County board sets calendar for final months of school

By Mark Bell - For the Enterprise

Families can relax. Spring break this year for students is going to remain as scheduled.

The Harlan County Board of Education has chosen a school calendar option that preserves the upcoming break and sets a final date for classes in the middle of May.

With the addition of non-traditional instruction (NTI) days as an option to the school calendar this year, the district needs only to make up for five missed days.

That, plus a lot fewer snow days over the winter, means students will be dismissed on May 13. Closing day for teachers will be May 16.

During Thursday’s regular monthly session, the board discussed three options and settled on a plan to remove one day from the original calendar of 175 days. The state requires a minimum of 1,062 hours of instruction with at least 170 six-hour days on the schedule to reach that total.

The graduation ceremony for Harlan County High School will be May 15.

The board also discussed options for the 2016-17 calendar, including a proposal from the district’s calendar committee that classes begin again on Aug. 3, include a two-day Fall break in early October, break for Christmas from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3, have Spring break the last week of March, and end classes on May 8.

Several members were concerned about starting school the first few days in August, and mentioned the issue was currently being discussed in the Kentucky Legislature.

Since the state does not require the district to settle on its new calendar until June, the board chose to consider the issue a little longer and discuss it again at their April meeting.

The board set a date of March 24, for a public hearing to discuss the school building plan developed by the local facility committee and approved by the state. The hearing will be held in the district’s office at 5:30 p.m. and the board appointed Eric Bowling as hearing officer for the meeting.

A special board of education meeting will follow the facility hearing.

For the past several years, the board has been focusing more attention on energy saving programs and projects across the school district.

During the board meeting, the board approved participation in a “demand reduction” program that would provide three facilities with real-time metering capability.

The special meters normally cost approximately $5,000 per unit, but the district will get them for free, along with the possibility of receiving a $3,700 “rebate” check should the facilities involved meet their targets for reducing electricity use.

In addition, the board approved an energy savings contract with Kentucky Utilities that would guarantee the district $20,000 just for participating. The amount could be higher but would first require an application process and be approved by the utility company.

In other action, the board:

• Approved a lease agreement with fiscal court for property at Cawood Elementary to be developed and used as a community park;

• Approved eight separate items involved in closing out the high school athletic complex building projects, including paying the architect their final fees and receiving credit for unused materials;

• Approved the superintendent’s employment report of one certified employment and one reprimand, with three classified employments and one transfer;

• Heard a report from the district’s information technology staff on recent upgrades to equipment vastly improving data management and wireless internet service across the local school network;

• Approved the payment of claims totaling $272,375.15;

• Approved a grant proposal for funding a greenhouse for the high school agriculture program;

• Approved Green Hills’ request to seek Steele-Reese Foundation grant money for academic enhancement initiatives;

• Approved participation in the Department of Labor’s Appalachian TechHire program in collaboration with Southeast KCTCS and Mountain Empire Community College;

• Approved Green Hills academic team trip to Johnson City;

• Approved Black Mountain trip to Pigeon Forge;

• Approved a change of date for Wallins eighth-grade trip to Pigeon Forge;

• Approved Wallins science trip to Bays Mountain on April 29;

• Approved Black Mountain kindergarten and first-grade class trip to Dollywood;

• Approved New Harlan Patriot baseball team trips to Big Stone Gap on May 11 and to Jonesville on April 2, 30 and May 9;

• Approved Green Hills kindergarten and first-grade trip to Creation Kingdom Zoo in Gate City;

• Approved Evarts trip request to Pigeon Forge;

• Approved a high school JRTOC request for a trip to Gatlinburg for a Raider Team event April 8-10;

• Approved a shortened school week for a special needs student at Black Mountain;

• Approved Black Mountain special needs trip to Johnson City;

• Announced the next regular meeting date of April 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the central office.

By Mark Bell

For the Enterprise

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