Tribune-Courier News Editor
DRAFFENVILLE — The Marshall County Board of Education is angling to be one of the first districts in Kentucky to raise its high school dropout age to 18.
At a meeting last Tuesday night, the Board heard the first reading of a new policy that would raise the dropout age. Superintendent Trent Lovett said the Board could not have a second reading until June 25.
“There is a slight incentive for the board to adopt this quickly,” Lovett said. “The first 57 districts who adopt the new dropout age get $10,000.”
The incentive was enough for the Board to move to the front of the line. Members moved to hold a specially-called meeting at 12:01 a.m. on June 25.
Ledonia Williamson, director of pupil personnel, said the new law leaves the dropout age to the discretion of school boards at first. When 55 percent of districts adopt the age of 18 as a minimum for dropouts, all districts must comply within four years.
“There are some additional programs required for at-risk students, but I do not think this will be required for us,” Williamson said. “In the last two years, we’ve only had 13 dropouts under age 18. We’re here for kids and will see that they get the education they need.”
The new dropout age would go into effect in the 2015-2016 school year.
At the meeting, Ricky Jones, director of facilities and transportation, presented a comprehensive report on the actual project cost of a new Marshall County High School press box and concession stand. With architectural fees, overtime hours and materials, the new facility cost the district $43,913.
“When we bid the facility to contractors, the low bid, plus HVAC, the PA system, road and sign came to $114.009,” Jones said.
“We decided we could save money and build in-house. I want to thank the Board for trusting the maintenance department. Every school had a hand in it. We asked every school to take care of little things while the maintenance department was committed to this project.”
Jones said the community supported the project as well. Several materials dealers provided supplies at a discount. One plant manager from Calvert City offered stairs he had donated at his plant.
Jill Morris, school finance officer, introduced the district’s operational budget for the next fiscal year. The budget offered a new salary schedule where all district employees will enjoy a two percent pay increase. She added this would be the first wage increase in three years.
Morris said the budget saw an increase of $19,000 for workers compensation insurance. The district saw an unusual number of claims in the 2012-2013 school year.
“We still don’t have a complete view on what sequestration will do to our budget,” Morris said. “It’s my understanding this is not a one-time deal, but could reduce the budget every year.”
The Board honored MCHS sophomore Bryce Thweatt for being one of 227 students to attend the Governor’s School of art, a three-week program this summer. It was also announced he will be accepted to the United World College of New Mexico for his junior and senior years.
“I have a very good understanding of the challenges he will face in these programs,” Board Chairman Rocky Hudson said. “The scholarship opportunities he will be offered will be unbelievable.”