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TCES to get another resource officer

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By Leslie Moore

Taylor County Elementary School will soon have another person on staff to help keep the school safe.

Taylor County School Board members approved the hire of another school resource officer for TCES at its regular meeting last Tuesday.

Taylor County Superintendent Roger Cook said since the shooting last month at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., he has spoken with local law enforcement officials about what measures can be taken to help ensure the safety of Taylor County students.

"It's been on my mind and everyone's minds," Cook said. "School safety should always be on our mind, but it comes to the forefront when you have the tragedies like we've had."

There are currently two school resource officers on staff at TCES, but Cook said one of the officers splits his time between the middle and high schools.

"Most of your need is at the middle and high school because of the nature of the age of the students," Cook said.

But with enrollment at TCES just less than 1,200 students, Cook said TCES needs another officer.

Cook said he recently spoke with Taylor County Sheriff Allen Newton about safety precautions, the schools' safety plans and possible candidates for the job.

"I think putting this resource officer in place down there is going to put all of our parents, me, and everybody else more at ease," Cook said. "It's an expense I just think we can't afford not to do, in my opinion."

With three grandchildren enrolled at TCES, Cook said he frequently assures concerned parents that the safety of TCES is, and always has been, a top priority for him.

"We're really excited about that resource officer," TCES Principal Donna Williams said. "We really appreciate that ... that's a person that people can see, plus I think it's another positive role model for our kids, and that's worth a lot."

Cook said he hopes to have the new officer in place as soon as this week.

Also at the Meeting:

• Tony Davis was elected board chairman and Deanna Hunt was elected vice chair.

• Board members approved the 2014 draft budget. Cook said the final budget, which must be completed in May, could be different from the draft as the district faces the possibility of more cuts in federal funding.

• The board approved shortened school day waivers for four students.

• The board approved a request by Taylor County High School Choral Director Lisa Gupton and Band Director Stephen Bishop for $567 to fund the Kentucky All-State Chorus and Band trip.

• Taylor County High School Principal Charles Higdon Jr. said the Coppock's appliance giveaway raised $27,000 for the school's iPad initiative.

• Dr. Bill Mattingly, principal of the Virtual Charter School, announced that construction of an Internet "courtyard" is complete and offers the use of 85 computers to high school students.

• Instructional supervisor Troy Benningfield said work on the comprehensive school improvement plans is going well and said he is confident everything will be ready for the Feb. 1 due date.

• Taylor County Middle School Principal Tony Jewell said his school's improvement grant plan has been submitted. The grant would provide educational resources to help academic achievement.

• Food Service Director Kathy Phelps presented updates to the 2012-2013 wellness and nutritional policy report. Phelps said a brochure detailing the policy report is available to the public.

Personnel Report

• New employees - James Hoskins, TCHS custodian; Jessica Burress, John Pierce, classified substitutes; Devan Reynolds, certified substitute.

• Resignations - Kristy Sullivan, TCES; Laura Hatcher, TCHS registrar.

• Retirement - Garland Skaggs, custodian.