In a 4-1 vote, agriculture and home economics were included in a list of over $300,000 worth of items restored to the county's curriculum. Board member Arlene Brown, who was the only dissenting voter, said she couldn't vote for two teaching positions to be restored at Cawood.
A math instructing position was reinstated at Evarts High School as was an English instructing position at Cumberland High School. Brown said she couldn't vote for two positions being reinstated at one high school and only one position at each of the other high schools.
Based on the school's enrollment, board member Brenda Henson defended Cawood's allotment.
"It's hard to put home economics and agriculture over Spanish, but as I understand it, these are two programs that are really wanted back," Henson said. Spanish and art are the other two programs which were dropped this year from Cawood's curriculum.
"Because of the school's numbers, I think it's a fair thing to do. Home economics helped me a lot, and I thought it was a bad move when it was dropped at Evarts," Henson said.
Upon Harlan County Schools Superintendent Tim Saylor's recommendation, $50,000 was appropriated for a reading consultant position. Saylor explained to board members that the position was needed to head up a Reading First Grant which will be implemented to improve reading instruction in the primary grades.
Mitch Bailey, an instructional advisor based at the central office, suggested more state dollars (Section Seven money) should be used in the Reading First initiative by suggesting more reading resource aids and materials. Some educators seated in the audience spoke up in favor of more math positions.
"I enjoyed home economics as a student, but I wished someone would have taught me math," said one person in the crowd.
Former Cawood principal Bill Lee spoke up in favor of the agriculture and home economics programs.
"You have cut so many programs in the past, and now are we going to lose agriculture and home economics?" he asked. "I understand the importance of math, but we've got enough math teachers, and we need to make sure they're teaching. You got to do something to keep students interested in coming to school, and these programs help. It bothers me that we're talking about losing more programs when they help with attendance and instill leadership in these kids. Kids need something that will help them feel good about themselves."
Also included in the Section Seven allotment is an estimated $50,000 for six aids at Black Mountain, Cumberland, Evarts and Green Hills elementary schools; $35,000 for an assistant principal at Rosspoint Elementary School; $30,000 for a reading instruction position at Hall Elementary School; $30,000 for a writing instruction position at Wallins Elementary School, $8,000 in supplies for Evarts Elementary School and $30,000 for a reading resource teacher at Cawood Elementary School.
Saylor mentioned his concern about the district's curriculum following a series of site-based council reports delivered earlier in the meeting.
"I have some concerns in regards to our performance level," he said. "Some schools are doing great, but there's some that are struggling. We need to come together as a district to address our problems. We can't sweep them under the rug."
Saylor also talked about the district's low college entrance exam scores. He blamed the district's curriculum.
"We're not giving a vigorous curriculum and that's affecting our ACT scores," he said.
In other business:
approval was given for the 2003-04 nonresidential contract with the Harlan Independent District. The only change to the contract was the addition of "full time" employees to the conditions;
approval was given for the second reading of the personal leave days policy;
approval was given for the second reading of the students records policy pdate;
approval was given for the 2003-04 salary schedules;
approval was given for the 2003-04 students accident insurance bids;
approval was given for the 2003-04 tentative budget;
approval was given for the purchase of computers and software for the district's food service department;
approval was given for an Early Start Literacy Grant;
an attendance award was presented to Rosspoint Elementary School.