The 2020-2021 school year ended with the East Bernstadt School District having a nearly $2 million balance and increased funds for the preschool program for next year.
District Financial Officer Amy Brown reported that funds per child in the preschool program had seen a significant increase for the coming year, raising from $3,625 per child to $5,064 for at-risk and/or poverty level. Those with special needs such as autism or speech or developmental challenges are allotted $6,622 per child, up from the prior rate of just over $6,000.
Brown also reported that the school's Food Service program had retained too much money from the past year, adding that the additional money could be spent for needed supplies for the cafeteria. Brown said school officials decided to purchase a new dish washing machine to replace the one bought in 2011-2012 academic year. She added that maintenance personnel had suggested repairing the "grease trap" in the kitchen area, with school officials choosing to replace it with a new one with the extra funds. Other purchases included additional lunchroom tables.
Free lunches for students will also continue, as the board members approved CEP participation. CEP, known as Community Eligibility Program, operates on the number of students qualifying for free or reduced meal rates based on family income - which Superintendent Vicki Jones said East Bernstadt district qualified for. The indirect cost of preparing meals also was approved, with Jones stating that the district still had costs from the food service with water, electric and other utilities.
Bids for some food service vendors were also accepted by board members. Jones said that Pepsi had the lowest bid for water, at 9 cents per bottle. Little Casears was the lowest bid for pizza, at 18 cents per slice.
Some change orders in the construction of the new administration building also assisted with financial expenditures of the school district.
"Add $15,490 to blacktop and stripe the parking lots by the gym and the cafeteria," she said. "Then decrease $4,886 for unused construction money, deduct a 2 cent credit on construction and a $10,750 credit from Philpot. That money we're getting back will cover the cost of the blacktop and striping."
Principal Susan Elza told board members that the summer program has been quite successful this year and would end with a field trip for all students.
"The last day is June 17 and we're going on a field trip," she said. "The Kindergarten through P-3 (second grade) will be going to Hillview Stables and 3rd through middle school will go to Cumberland Falls. There's a hiking trail there that will be fun for them."
Elza added that Kindergarten Camp will be held in July to help transition incoming students to the regular school routine.
Changes recommended by the Kentucky Department of Education to existing handbooks were also approved. Those handbooks include those prepared for students and parents, and the teacher and substitute teacher handbooks. The Substitute Teacher handbook was also revised so that the Principal will contact substitute teachers when they are needed. The Board Policy handbook was also approved.
The clearance for children age 12 and older to receive the COVID vaccine will also instigate a vaccine clinic at the school next week. Jones said the Laurel County Health Department will set up a mobile vaccination unit at the school on Wednesday, June 16 to administer vaccines to those who have not yet received their vaccinations. Those vaccines, however, must be coordinated through the school's website. The vaccine will be available to children ages 12 and over, as well as adults. Registration must be completed through the school's website. Visit East Bernstadt Elementary School and click on the vaccine registration to register.
Other actions included:
• Approval of revised construction projects, with board members agreeing to move funds from the middle school construction project to the administrative building project.
• Create a para-educator position, with Jones explaining that the para-educator would provide assistance to students who have difficulties in class and need additional help.
• Approved agreement with the Laurel County Sheriff's Office for a School Resource Officer. Jones said the SRO provided a positive interaction with students who might otherwise have seen the police in bad situations.
• Approved agreement with University of the Cumberlands to accept college students who needed to complete coursework and/or student teaching.
• Approved agreement with Intrust Health Care for counselors at the school. Jones said other agencies had had "a lot of turnover" and that the agreement with Intrust had been more successful because those counselors working at the school had remained the same over the past several years.
• Approved hiring Tara Hall as school counselor. Hall recently retired from the Laurel County School District.
• Approved agreement to hire Stephanie Hammons as school psychologist at $60 per hour on an "as needed" basis.
• Hire Kristen Ayers as fourth grade teacher to replace a teacher who retired.
• Changed the date of the July board meeting from its usual second Thursday evening to Monday, July 26 due to several board members being on vacation during that time period.