Cook's contract narrowly passes

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By Leslie Moore


The Taylor County Board of Education passed a four-year contract extension for Superintendent Roger Cook in a 3-2 vote at its regular meeting last Tuesday.

Before voting, the board met in closed session to discuss the contract for about 35 minutes.

“After addressing some concerns, hopefully we will have a contact with this man for the next four years,” Chairman Tony Davis said. Vice Chair Deanna Hunt and board member David Hall voted against the contract.

“I want to make it clear that it was not a vote of no confidence. This wasn’t a vote against you on anything,” Hall said. “This was a vote on this contract, with these terms, in these times.”

Hunt said she wants to publicly acknowledge that she “totally” supports Cook and has since she became a member of the board in January 2011.

“I love everything the school is doing. I like where he’s going. I like how he pushes. I like that my kids are in this school. I wouldn’t have it any other way than the way it is right now,” Hunt said. “I hope he renews his contract. Just because of a technicality sometimes, you don’t get to do what you want to, but I’m all for him, 100 percent there.”

Cook did not comment on the vote during the meeting, but did respond via email to a request for comment.

“I appreciate the vote of confidence from three, and three is all I need,” Cook wrote. “However, I don’t like working where I am not fully supported and, quite frankly, my retirement was made long ago.”

He wrote that he is considering retirement once again to explore his options.

“I can only say to continue working on my old contract is not an option, as I can make more retired,” Cook said. “I will let folks know of my decision when I make it.” Davis said Cook has until July 1 to sign the contract.

Also at the Meeting:
• The Board approved an application for a District of Innovation title, which will be awarded to 10 Kentucky school districts.

Districts of Innovation can ask for exemption from certain state regulations.

If chosen for the distinction, Cook said, the district could be funded based on performance-based education, not the standard average daily attendance.

Cook said he believes the district has a good chance of being selected and he hopes the distinction could lead to monetary support.

• The Board voted to solicit bids for property and liability insurance. Cook said this is done every three years to make sure the district is getting the best rate.

• Taylor County Elementary School Junior Beta Club performed “If I Only Had a Beta Heart,” to the tune of “If I Only Had a Brain” from “The Wizard of Oz.”

The club won the Songfest competition at the state Beta Convention last month. Junior Beta advisor Debbie Gumm said winning photographs taken by Raegan Mardis and Emma Sadler are now on display at the board office.

• The Board was shown a video of state Junior Beta Secretary Matti Blakeman, a student at Taylor County Middle School, giving her campaign speech and the campaign skit that followed.  

• The TCMS archery team was given $405 to attend the state competition in Louisville. The majority of the money will be used to pay the $15 entry fee for the 24 students on the team. Ten alternates will also attend.

• The board approved a request from Taylor County FFA to attend the National Land Judging Competition in Oklahoma City on April 29 through May 4.

• The Board had first reading of a district technology plan for the 2013-2014 school year.

Administrative Reports
• TCES Principal Donna Williams said the manager of Joanne’s Fabrics recently donated $2,000 to the school for its art program. Williams said some of the money will be used to purchase clay.

Williams said family literacy night was a success, with several members of the community volunteering to read to students. Books were also given away to students.

Williams said students participated in the Read to Feed Program, which gives families living in poverty-stricken countries gifts of livestock. The students logged more than 600,000 minutes.

TCES students recently helped recruit donors for a blood drive. Williams said the goal was set at 45 pints of blood, but they collected 56.

• TCMS Principal Tony Jewell announced that March 25 is Student Spotlight Night and the TCMS band and chorus will perform.

• Taylor County High School Principal Charles Higdon Jr. said juniors recently took the ACT at Campbellsville University and ate lunch together afterward. Higdon said a goal was set for the class to score an average of 20. Last year, the average was 19.7.

Higdon said 600 students have completed their schedules for the 2013-2014 school year. They will meet with current eight graders soon to make their schedules.

• Dr. Bill Mattingly, principal of the Virtual Charter School, said the school is adding students on a daily basis.

There are 199 middle and high school students taking APEX courses, with 44 completions so far.

There are 32 students enrolled in the JCPS e-school, with 13 course completions. Mattingly said there are 12 students enrolled in the College Now program and seven courses have been completed.

There are 219 students enrolled in Novel Stars, with 329 courses completed. Mattingly said pre-med students are now able to take Latin through KET.

• Instructional Supervisor Troy Benningfield said Kentucky Leads the Nation roundtable discussion is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Friday, March 22, at the Virtual Charter School. A group of state legislators, mayors and superintendents from the largest districts in the state have been invited.

Benningfield said most teachers have already fulfilled the professional development hour requirements for the school year. They must be complete by May 1.

Personnel Report
• Resignations - Mark Speer, TCMS girls’ head softball coach; Ian Hoskins, TCHS head wrestling coach; and Andy Close, TCHS assistant football and weight lifting coach.

• New Hire - Sheri Botkin, TCMS girls’ head softball coach.