By Magen McCrarey
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
The first week of school for Laurel County's 9,300 students was "smooth and successful," said District Superintendent Doug Bennett during the Monday night's school board meeting.
"I'd like to commend principals, teachers, transportation, food service, custodial maintenance, all district staff and board members for doing a great job in planning and all the extra efforts to ensure that we had a great start for our students," Bennett said.
In addition, the district's ACT composite score was announced as 19.4, a score that exceeds the state average. The district also scored above state average on all benchmarks in English, math, reading and science.
The Laurel County Board of Education agreed to lift the hiring freeze, allowing positions to be opened for a North Laurel Middle custodian, Hazel Green Title 1 instructional assistant and lead maintenance worker, and 20 possible emergency certified substitute teachers for the 2012-13 school year.
Deputy Superintendent Denise Griebel announced the Elgin Foundation's third year in the school system. The Foundation committed more than $1.6 million to the schools over a six year period. The Foundation supplied K-3 reading curriculum for teachers and parent educators as well as training. A student's success in reaching reading goals is assessed by the MAP test, which will take place on Monday, Aug. 27.
Data from 2011-12 has already shown increases in MAP scores with kindergarteners achieving the highest increase in 2012 for math at 20 points and second grade at a 20 point increase in reading.
Laurel County is one of six districts in Kentucky that is eligible for the Elgin grant. To continue student success and maintain Elgin's advanced academic influence, Griebel stated the district will no longer call the program "Elgin."
"This is our reading program... and we're starting with the premise that we're not going to call this the Elgin Grant anymore. This is Laurel County's reading program," Griebel said.
Another program rooted in the district is Berea College's Gear Up six-year agreement that began in 2011. The board approved four academic specialists to continue to work with North and South Laurel Middle School students who will later become the graduating classes of 2017-18. The specialists will follow the students through middle and high school to ensure and allow opportunities for them to attend college. Berea College has donated nearly $1 million for Gear Up programs every year.
The board also approved:
• The solicitation of Laurel County Judge Executive for a Laurel County Public Educational and Government Access (PEG) channel from Time Warner Cable.
• The hire of S&ME, an engineering company, to construct turning lanes onto Cheralyn Lane, which is the first step forward for the vocational and technical school. The project is estimated at $300,000 for the district's portion; the remainder will be paid through state funding.