BOE moves sixth grade back to elementary schools

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SALYERSVILLE – After Tuesday night’s school board meeting, sixth-grade classes will be moving back to the elementary schools in the county.

The Magoffin County School Board met in regular session on June 19, discussing moving the sixth grade out of the middle school, as well insurance policy bids.

During the meeting, the board recognized GED recipients, David D.J. Fitch, Wade Bailey and Mary Auxier. 

Vickie Jo Howard, with the Magoffin County Learning Center, also announced that they will be starting a welding program, which will work in conjunction with the Big Sandy Community and Technical College and Logan Corporation to provide the required training and certifications to work in that field. She said they are looking for dislocated workers and GED-seeking participants that could benefit from the program, which will begin on Friday.

Magoffin County Schools Superintendent Scott Helton explained in the meeting that this time of year is very hectic, getting ready for the new school year. He said that they’ve had some retirements take place and few more are pending. He noted that with the retirements they have been able to avoid any layoffs by not filling some of the positions and he said he won’t request for any additional positions. 

Helton said they ended the school year with roughly the same number of students they started with, so he hopes it is leveling out now. 

Among other procedural action agenda items, the board agreed to award the soft drink bid for the 2018 – 2019 school year to Coca-Cola. 

One bid discussion got a bit heated, as two insurance providers explained their bids for property, casualty, liability, fleet insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance. 

The Board received bids from Maverick Insurance Group and HIG. The school district has been using HIG for several years, including during the aftermath of the tornado. 

Prior to bidding out the insurance policies, HIG priced the same coverage at roughly $560,000, $20,000 less than the previous year. After the board bid it out earlier this month, Maverick bid $429,231.93 and HIG bid $483,863.74.

Representatives from each company scrutinized the other company’s validity during the bid process, but ultimately Board Attorney Don McFarland reviewed the proposals and determined both were valid bids that met or exceeded all legal requirements, so the board agreed to award the bid to Maverick. 

Helton said that after talking to representatives in Frankfort, he wants to move the sixth-grade classes back to the grade schools. He said they are required to be at 85 percent capacity at each school, and they’ll be closer to that number if they move those kids back to the elementary schools. They will have to develop a new district facilities plan by next June. 

With moving the sixth grade out of the Herald Whitaker Middle School, that will free up a wing, which he said they will use for district personnel that correlates with students. He said the wing will be accessible via an access key card. 

“This doesn’t impact any children at the schools,” Helton explained. “Nothing against the middle school, they’ve done a great job, but as a small community, it allows us to keep a relationship in these communities a little longer. They get to keep that innocence one more year.”

He said the Kentucky Department of Education looks at how they use their funding on facilities and he feels this better utilizes the buildings they have. 

After relocating offices to the middle school, they will also be able to close some of the older buildings, as well, saving money on utilities and upkeep.

Board Chair Rodney Ward said he thinks it’s a good idea, with less stress on the students and allowing them to connect to their communities with the elementary schools. The board approved placing all sixth-grade students back at the elementary schools in the district for the 2018-2019 school year. 

As far as how that could affect sports, Helton said that if an elementary school provides a sport, sixth graders can only participate at the elementary level. If an elementary school does offer a sport (such as football), sixth-grade students can participate at the middle school level.

Representatives from Half Mountain United Baptist Church also approached the board about wanting to buy a portion of the property owned by the district near South Magoffin Elementary, in hopes of building a new church there in the future. Helton said they would have to check with the Kentucky Department of Education about the legality of selling it since that portion is in the floodplain, but they would discuss it after they know their options. 

The next Magoffin County School Board meeting will be held on June 28 at 5 p.m., when the board will wrap up all business for the current fiscal year.