Students in Harlan County will be returning to school a little bit later in the fall for the 2016-17 year.
During Thursday’s monthly meeting, the board of education approved an option setting the calendar for students to begin attending classes on Aug. 11. At this time, school is slated to end next year on May 15, 2017.
Although board member Wallace Napier said he would like to see school start a week later on Aug. 18, he thought it best to make the change gradually and see if winter weather again allows them to dismiss school at a reasonable time for summer. The other members of the board agreed.
The proposal includes a two-day fall break in early October, the typical break for Christmas from Dec. 20 to Jan. 3, and spring break during the last week of March.
In addition to a relatively mild winter this year, the use of non-traditional instruction (NTI) days in the district’s schedule also provided the school system with some flexibility to effectively extend the students’ summer break by an additional week.
Other than clearing up the final paperwork for construction work on the high school athletic complex for baseball, softball and tennis so that final payments could be made, the board had very little business on its agenda for April.
They did approve spending $16,000 in order to receive a matching amount from Kentucky Utilities as part of a grant to reduce energy use by replacing lighting at several gymnasium facilities.
According to Superintendent Mike Howard, the district’s energy manager, Sherry Sexton, has determined the most cost-effective changes can be made using this amount at the high school, Black Mountain, Cumberland and James A. Cawood Elementary schools.
Napier, who has been the board’s chief advocate for the energy management program, noted the money the district will spend as their share of this grant will be coming from energy costs that have already been saved by school facilities from their budgeted utility expenses.
In other action, the board:
• Approved an employment report from the superintendent of one certified retirement, one classified retirement and one classified employment;
• Awarded a special recognition plaque to Judy Gurnee, a catering and food service specialist from Mount Sterling, for services provided to the district’s food service program;
• Announced the first culinary arts competition at the high school set for May 5 and involving four school cooking teams;
• Approved the payment of claims totaling $597,245.42;
• Approved the monthly financial report;
• Revised the 2016-2017 staffing plan for full-time guidance counselors at each elementary school;
• Declared bleachers at JACES as surplus with no monetary value;
• Approved Black Mountain third grade trip to Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium in Kingsport on May 13;
• Approved JACES fourth grade trip to Creation Kingdom in Gate City on May 9;
• Approved Cumberland trip to Pigeon Forge for academic teams;
• Approved Evarts trip to Sandusky, Ohio for middle school academic team members;
• Approved Green Hills STARS incentive trip to Pigeon Forge;
• Approved high school choir trip to attend “Music in the Parks” competition in Atlanta;
• Approved Cawood academic team trip to Pigeon Forge on May 18;
• Approved Evarts fourth- through eighth- grades CATS assessment rewards trip to Pigeon Forge on May 16;
• Approved Wallins special needs class trip to Gatlinburg on May 10;
• Approved Cawood trip to Leeman Field in Pennington Gap for sixth- through eighth-graders on May 10;
• Approved Cawood trip to Leeman Field in Pennington Gap for third- through fifth-grades on May 5;
• Approved Rosspoint kindergarten and first grade trip to Knoxville Zoo on May 9;
• Granted permission to obtain quotes to purchase three trucks for the maintenance department;
• Approved a lease agreement with SKCTC for use of the baseball field;
• Approved a lease agreement with the college for use of the softball field;
• Approved the Carol M. White Physical Education grant;
• Approved an Innovative Approaches to Literacy grant;
• Approved an audit engagement agreement and an audit Contract with White and Associates;
• Declared old gates and fencing as surplus from Cumberland and Black Mountain;
• Approved food service contract for the summer feeding program; and
• Approved the 2016-17 NTI program.