Board members issue insurance contract, new leader present at meeting...
By Catrina Vargo
Louisa, KY -- The Lawrence County Board of Education held a special meeting Thursday, June 12, and after the Pledge of Allegiance was said, the meeting was called to order by Board Chairman, Jim See.
The minutes from the last meetings were approved and the new agenda was addressed, beginning with consent of several items, one of which was the HMC Building Services Agreement Addendum for Louisa East Elementary in the annual sum of $776 and LCHS in the annual amount of $5,328.
Board Member, Heath Preston asked if these amounts were in the budget. Financial and Business Director, Edris Humphrey said it was not, explaining that it was part of preventative service maintenance.
"This needs to be looked at closely. We need to be sure we're getting adequate service for what we are paying" she said. The $5,328 is for HVAC services in the vocational wing of LCHS renovations. The $776 is service on the cooling tower at Louisa East Elementary. Preston made a motion to table this item until it can be further reviewed. There was no objection.
The 2013-14 school calendar was approved. Director of Pupil Personnel, Vernon Hall said the calendar reflects all missed days due to inclement weather, attendance days, early dismissals, emergency hours, and all other missed or make up days. "We finished the year in compliance with state requirements" Hall said.
Insurance Agent, Phillip Hunt was present to go over the District's property and workers compensation coverage. He explained that although premiums have increased, Lawrence County still pays a lot less than some other districts. He commended Vernon Hall, crediting him with the District's 12% savings due to Hall's good reporting. Hunt said that workers comp has gone down, but property coverage has gone up as a result of the market.
Hunt said that since 9-11, commercial insurance is required to offer terrorism coverage, but explained that it takes two federal authorities such as Homeland Security and the Attorney General, etc., to declare an act of terrorism before the insurance would pay.
"A shooting in a building or a kid with a bomb is a violent act, but is not terrorism" (as defined by federal guidelines) he said.
Hunt told the Board that this coverage is included in their premium, and if they opted to deduct it, it would save them $7,150. He went on to say that most districts have rejected it.
Insurance agent Phillip Hunt"The likelihood of a terrorist act here is small to none," said Hunt.
He said that the districts who do keep the terrorism coverage are located in urban areas such as Lexington.
"No one in eastern Kentucky carries it that I know of" said Hunt.
He also said that if an incident did occur, getting the federal government to declare it as an act of terrorism would be "nearly impossible." Hunt recommended that the terrorism coverage be dropped. The average increase for commercial insurance in the state increased about 7%. "If you chose not to keep the terrorism coverage, it would bring your increase to about 1%.
The total blanket premium for the Lawrence County School District for all property and workers comp is $109,248,780. The deductible raised from $1,000 to $5,000. "That is the only change in the policy. Everything else stayed the same," said Hunt. He told the Board that he fought the increase, but the marketplace dictates, and it is everywhere. The effective date for the new policy begins July 1, so Hunt said the Board did not have to decide tonight.
Chairman Jim See asked if they approved it tonight with the understanding that if a better rate becomes available before July 1, could they do that? Hunt said they could.
Insurance Agent, Debbie Handshaw was also present to discuss medical and accident policies, and explained a limit of $1,000 physical therapy sessions coverage at a premium of $27,828. New Superintendent, Dr. Robbie Fletcher, asked how many physical therapy visits would $1,000 cover.
Handshaw said she wasn't sure, it would depend on what type of therapy was involved.
See asked if this was in the budget. Humphrey said if they chose the $1,000 physical therapy coverage, the premium would be over the budget by $1,500. Board Member Heath Preston said he didn't think that the physical therapy plan is sufficient. The rest of the Board agreed. It was decided to drop the terrorism coverage insurance and keep the current $30,000 accident premium. Preston made a motion to accept, Member Madelyn Roberts seconded it.
Vernon Hall then explained the Evaluation Plan for certified employees. The PGES or Professional Growth and Effectiveness System committee is comprised evenly between administrators and teachers. Hall said the system is very thorough.
"They are doing things differently than in the past, including a lot of student growth goals" he said.
Hall said the system currently in place does not adequately evaluate pre- school teachers, and a document is in the works to be presented to the state. Hall explained that there are various observation and testing systems depending on different positions.
Fletcher reminded the Board that this has to be done by July 1, and asked what type of intervention was used for those who didn't pass. Hall responded by saying, "We have 100% so far although there are a couple more in progress." He said that Cassandra Webb, as acting evaluator, would take corrective action for those who didn't pass, and that help would be available to get them to where they need to be.
Preston made a motion to approve, Garnett Skaggs seconded it.
Certified Evaluation Plan Appeals Panel Members have been chosen for appointment. They are Teachers, Bill Hammond and Donna West, with Kim Shirkey as an alternate. Barbara Robinson made a motion to approve and Garnett Skaggs seconded it.
Edris Humphrey then shared with Board the idea from a recent District Conference, of paying school bills with a business credit card. The idea is to earn cash back rewards by paying bills with a credit card, thereby saving money or generating revenue in the budget.
"I have some concerns about it, but I wanted to present it to you" said Humphrey. Preston asked what her concerns were, and she said that "not all vendors will accept payment with a credit card, so I don't know how much we would really save."
She said the savings within the districts who are utilizing this program ranged from $8,000-$27,000, with the larger amounts being from much larger school districts.
Chairman Jim See asked what is the potential for fraud, and Humphrey explained that only the Accounts Payable Clerk would have access to the card to pay bills online, just as it is with writing checks.
"I can see the pros and cons of it," said See. Humphrey said, "I am open to trying it if you decide to approve it."
Garnett Skaggs asked if just certain bills such as electric could be paid online with a card. Humphrey said yes, that some districts used the system for just certain vendors. Preston said he saw the potential for savings and See said they would keep it on mind.
Other items on the agenda included the approval for maternity leave for Amanda Adams, approval of creation of positions for assistance with special needs students, updates to the 2014-15 salary schedule, and personnel action update which includes open teacher positions for social studies and math.
Superintendent Fletcher asked if the positions had been posted. Vernon Hall said they had.
The new boys basketball coach was not on the new Supt.'s personnel list but a board member told The Lazer that it is Travis York, who is originally from Lawrence County. York is now coaching at the small college level in Ohio. He is currently on vacation with his family and can not be reached.
The meeting was then adjourned. The regular June meeting has been rescheduled from June 16 to Monday, June 23, at 6pm at the LCHS Library.