2015-09-30 / Front Page

Enrollment down by 83, could affect county staffs

By SALLY BARTO

The Letcher County School System has 83 fewer students than it did at this time last school year.

Kenny Cornett, district director of pupil personnel, told the Letcher County Board of Education at its September meeting Monday night that the decrease in enrollment is significant. If enrollment continues to drop it will affect staffing allocations, Cornett said.

In other business, for the second year in a row, the board has chosen the compensating tax rate instead of approving a four-percent increase.

The general fund tax levy is 62.9 cents on real estate property and tangible property, which includes .4 cents for exoneration. Last year’s compensating rate was 56.6 cents.

The compensating rate, which is intended to collect the same amount as the previous year, is expected to generate $5,143,781.

Whitesburg resident Wendell Taylor asked the board to vote against the new rate.

“Why don’t we ever hear of a tax cut or leave it where it is?” asked Taylor.

Superintendent Tony Sergent told Taylor that if the board couldn’t agree on the tax rate, the state would set it at the higher compensating rate.

Until last year, the board for 10 consecutive years had approved a four-percent increase, which required a 30-minute public hearing.

The net assessment growth for tangible property is down $77,150,688.

The board also approved a motor vehicle and watercraft property tax rate of 49.6 cents per $100 assessment and a three percent utility tax. These rates haven’t changed in three years.

The board approved a four-percent rate for the sheriff ’s office for the first month of tax collection and three percent for the remainder of the collection period.

In other business, the board voted to release its option to purchase the former Beckham Bates Elementary

School campus. Board Attorney Darrell Hall said the Leslie, Knott, Letcher, Perry Community Action Council (LKLP) is planning to sell the property and is in the process of clearing up the title.

“We’re just saying we don’t want it. You can sell it,” said Board Chairman Will Smith.

Assistant Superintendent Twyla Messer told the board that fixtures for light bulbs no longer being manufactured are located in several school gymnasiums. Maintenance workers replaced fixtures in the Fleming-Neon gym and will use bulbs and fixtures from Neon in other gyms until new fixtures are installed.

The board also learned that Arlie Boggs Elementary School and Letcher Middle School had perfect attendance on September 24, which was the high attendance day so far this school year. West Whitesburg Elementary School had 97 percent attendance.

“If we can get 97 percent on one day, we can get that more often than not,” said Cornett.

The district’s attendance rate is 95.22 percent for the first month of the 2014-2015 school year.

The board also:

• voted to allow Whitesburg Middle School’s eighth grade to take its class trip to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., on April 21–22.

• declared a 1999 Chevy Astro van and a 1996 Jeep Cherokee as surplus property.

• learned of the following certified resignations: substitute teacher Pamela Banks; teacher Jeffrey Bryan Dean, and substitute teacher Susan Wright.

• learned of the certified employment of Joshua Yonts, former principal of Martha Jane Potter Elementary School, as district director of federal and state resources.

• learned of the hiring of Jonathan Adams as the head LCCHS baseball coach.

• learned of the following classified resignations: Jeffrey Bryan Dean, a substitute bus driver; Christopher Fields, bus driver for MJP; Joshua Harrison, a bus driver at MJP; Beckham Jent, bus driver at Letcher Elementary School; and James McAuley, a bus driver at Fleming-Neon Middle School.

• learned of the classified employment of Jennifer Adams and Krista Akers, both instructional assistants I at MJP.

The board went into closed session at 7:32 p.m. to discuss litigation involving Michelle Murphy, Roger Hall and Peggy R. Cook.

The next board meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 26 at the Letcher County School Bus Garage.

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