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County teachers attend rally

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More than 60 teachers head to Frankfort for rally; no school buses were used to transport them

By Zac Oakes

 

More than 60 teachers from the Taylor County School District traveled to Frankfort last Friday to take part in a rally involving educators from across the state. 

The number of teachers attending the rally led to school being cancelled in the district on Friday, as Taylor County joined with around 40 other school districts in the state cancelling school for the day. 

At Thursday night’s meeting of the Taylor County Board of Education, Superintendent Roger Cook said the decision to call school off simply came down to the numbers. 

“We didn’t have enough substitutes to cover the number of classrooms,” Cook said. “Kids weren’t going to be able to receive proper instruction and it was a matter of supervision as well… My hands were kind of tied.” 

More than 60 teachers had already informed the district of their plans for Friday’s rally, and Cook expected maybe even more than that to go. With only 30 or so substitutes that the district can call upon, it was going to be impossible to have school, Cook said. 

Students will not have to make up the day, according to Cook, as they have enough time banked to be able to miss the day, but teachers will have to make the day up. That will likely be done on Election Day, which is Tuesday, May 22. 

None of the Taylor County School buildings will be used as a polling place this year. 

Cook confirmed that no district buses or other forms of transportation were used to transport teachers to Frankfort. 

“We aren’t going to use taxpayer money for that,” Cook said. “Every person who wants to go will have to find their own transportation.” 

At Thursday’s meeting, Cook expressed his support for the district’s teachers and those around the state. 

“What a lot of people don’t know is that it is about more than pensions now,” Cook said. “It’s a lack of funding for textbooks, a lack of funding for professional development, it is about cutting money for transportation and cutting money for all kinds of funds. It’s not so much about pensions now as it is about our teachers rallying and supporting our students and public education.” 

Cook told those in the audience that around 80 percent of the district’s budget goes to salaries, and he said cuts to public education could mean lost jobs for schools around the state. 

“I keep saying it this way, they keep wanting us to make brick without straw,” Cook said. “… I want to make it public that I support our teachers and I support public education. I wish there was another way to do it, but I support them completely. I’m sorry it has to come to closing school and I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but I can promise that the faculty and staff will make that time up.” 

 

In other news from Thursday’s meeting: 

• Taylor County Primary Center broke records for early Kindergarten enrollment, according to Principal Melissa Long. Long said the school is excited to see so many enrolling early for Kindergarten. 

• Brooke Downey, a first grade teacher at Taylor County Primary Center, and Erin Whitlock, a speech therapist at TCPC, applied for and received a grant for $6,000 to be used for inclusive handicap playground equipment. 

• Cook provided an update on the career center project, saying the district basically has its BG-1 form in place to begin working on the project soon. Cook said he is looking for anyone who can lay brick and block, which has been stalling progress on the project. 

• After the meeting, Cook spoke about legislation in Frankfort that would allow school districts and local government entities to phase in pension contributions. The legislation, HB 362, was initially vetoed by Gov. Matt Bevin, who said he agreed with the phase-in aspect of the bill, but disagreed with allowing smaller public entities to buy out of the state’s retirement system. The House and Senate overrode the veto overwhelmingly, 94-2 in the House and 34-4 in the Senate. Rep. Bam Carney and Sen. Max Wise both voted in favor of overriding the governor’s veto. Cook said on Thursday night that without being able to phase those contributions in, the district could have faced a loss of 8-12 jobs. 

• The board approved a contract for Wise, Buckner, Sprowles, and Associates to perform the district’s annual fiscal year audit. 

 

Personnel Report

Retired- Randy Durham, Kathy Newcome

Resigned- Kristin Sexton

New Hires-Substitutes- William Edwards, Merica Koch, Lula Smith