Recently-hired superintendent Dr. Steve Miracle took part in his first Marshall County Board of Education meeting Thursday. Miracle was introduced as the new head of the district in June, replacing Trent Lovett who retired at the end of last month.
Several staff reports provided updates in preparing for the upcoming school year, which starts August 5. Director of Transportation and Facilities Jeff Stokes reported the district will be applying for a grant for the tech center.
“We still have a lot of need and we’re limited by our budget, so we feel like we can go ahead and complete some of the major renovations to that building if we were able to get that grant,” he said.
Stokes said the restrooms and air handler in the tech center would be in place by the time school starts, and flooring may be obtained through another distributor for at least one classroom. He reiterated shipping issues have impacted completion of the high school FMD room, but added after meeting with the contractor and architect that two regular classrooms would be done by school’s start.
The roofing projects at Benton Elementary have been completed and workers are moving to Central Elementary, where he anticipates having the roof on that gym by the end of the week, then address the administration area, library and cafeteria.
Board chair Randy Travis asked Stokes if the facilities department could look at updating the MCHS soccer press box and changing room for the Lady Marshals’ team. Stokes said there is a BG-1 for the changing room that was sidelined due to COVID-19, but would speak with Dr. Miracle and Chief Finance Officer Jill Monroe about funding options.
District Director of Pupil Personnel Patricia Greer told the board first responders had met with school officials to discuss their emergency plans and examined North Marshall Middle School, which has one-way film over their classroom doors. She said eventually every school will have that film on their classroom doors to make them compliant with SB 1.
Greer also noted that while the schools will re-open without masks, students riding buses must wear masks per a state mandate.
Instructional Supervisor Abby Griffy said summer instruction for the past 6-8 weeks has covered cognitive coaching for administrators, math training, intervention to address learning loss during the pandemic, project-based learning, Otus training, and essential standards training.
Later in the meeting related to renewing Otus for the 2021-22 school year, board member Amy Waggoner asked about evaluating the educational system that is used for teaching, data and assessment management in grades K-12.
“Many teachers like the program,” Waggoner said, adding others may not be as familiar with it. But she said staff should ask if it is meeting their needs and if it’s best for the students.
“I think we should use it,” she said. “If we haven’t evaluated it, we can’t evaluate it until everyone uses it. I think all of the teachers, all the schools come back in March and say whether to use it or not.”
Griffy said this year would be the first year teachers could evaluate it.
“Take this year to evaluate it and if everyone uses it with fidelity,” Miracle said, “we can get real, true valid input on the positives and negatives and gives us the opportunity to resolve any of that if we can.”
The board did recommend renewing the agreement with Otus for the new school year.
Monroe told the board about a plan related to ESSER III (also known as the American Rescue Plan) is due to the Kentucky Department of Education by July 31. With that, she said the board would be presented a detailed spending plan at its August meeting for their approval. Monroe said the ESSER III allocation is in excess of $7.4 million with a requirement that 20% be used on learning loss.
In other business, the board:
- Heard the annual security breach notification update.
- Elected Miracle as the board’s secretary.
- Approved the treasurer’s report.
- Accepted the internal controls document for segregation of duties in Fiscal Year 2021-22.
- Approved the School Resource Officer Agreement.
- Approved non-resident contracts for 2022-23 initiated by Marshall County Schools with Calloway, Graves, Livingston, Lyon, McCracken and Trigg county districts, as well as Mayfield, Murray and Paducah Independent schools.
- Approved the non-resident contract initiated by Paducah Independent Schools.
- Approved early enrollment for kindergarten for four students who met testing requirements.
- Approved invoice No. 5 to CMS Architects for $2,614 for Marshall County Tech Center renovation.
- Approved pay application No. 1 to MP Lawson Construction LLC for $169,690.74 for tech center renovation.
- Approved pay application No. 1 — direct purchase orders for $4,635.61 for tech center renovation.
- Approved pay application No. 1 to Minter Roofing Company LLC for $19,123.50 for Benton Elementary roof project.
- Approved pay application No. 1 — direct purchase order for $28,743 for the Benton Elementary roof project.
- Approved pay application No. 1 to Minter Roofing Company LLC for $1,181.18 for the Central Elementary roof project.
- Approved pay application No. 1 — direct purchase order for $10,193.24 for Central Elementary roof project.
Following the passage of consent agenda items, Robert Johnson addressed the board during the public comments portion regarding Critical Race Theory (CRT), which is a controversial academic idea that racism is a systemic issue rather than simply individual prejudice or bias. He asked if CRT would be taught in schools, to which Miracle said it had not been an issue for discussion and with school starting in a few weeks that it would not be something to occur this year.
Johnson also used his comment time to read a letter he penned for Gov. Andy Beshear.
The board entered into executive session to discuss the potential purchase of property. They later resumed the meeting to authorize Miracle to pursue the purchase of property located on U.S. 641 North.