Laurel County students will be prohibited from using vaping devices on school grounds and classified employees paid on an hourly rate will see a small increase in their pay in the coming school year.

During Monday's bi-monthly meeting of the Laurel County School Board, it was unanimously approved to add violations for terroristic threatening and the use of vaping devices on or in school property to the student handbook.

Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett addressed the two new rules included in the 2019-2020 student handbook, which is issued to all students during the first week of school. Bennett explained the new handbook included a charge of second-degree terroristic threatening for anyone making threats against any school or school property. Anyone convicted of second-degree terroristic threatening can serve from one to five years in prison as a felony offense under Kentucky law (Kentucky Revised Statutes 508.080).

Under that statute, terroristic threatening in the second degree occurs when "If, with the purpose of terrorizing another person by physical injury or property damage to another person." In an article written by Brian Scott West, Assistant Public Defender, KRS 508.080 outlines that offense in two levels - threats to a specific person or his property and threats to cause public evacuations of buildings or other structures. It also includes threats to commit a crime which results in death or serious physical injury or substantial property damage. Bomb threats or school shooting threats are prime examples of such a threat.

The second new violation refers to the use of vaping devices which has become popular among teens.

"We've had the policy on no tobacco or tobacco products and we've added the vaping into that this year," Bennett told board members.

That change will now not only banish tobacco and tobacco products from use on school grounds - even at after-school events such as sporting and academic events, but it will also prohibit the use of any type of vaping device as well.

Board members also approved a pay increase for classified employees who have worked in the school system for 25 years or more and who are paid on an hourly basis. Bennett explained although some classified employees are paid on a salaried basis, others remain on an hourly basis. The Salary Schedule reflects an additional experience/pay level of “25+ years experience” for classified, hourly employees with corresponding pay increases aligned with current rates.

Monday night also brought the election of new chairperson and vice chair for the school board members. Charles "Bud" Stuber opened the meeting for nominations. Jeff Lewis was chosen unanimously as the chair with John Begley serving as vice chair.

The schedule for the upcoming year's school board meetings was also approved on the same schedule as in the past - board members will meet the second and fourth Mondays of each month at 5 p.m. in the Central Office.

Board members also approved the re-creation for a position of Director of Pupil Personnel (DPP). That position had been filled by Jamie Gilliam, who was killed in a car crash on July 1 - her first day in that position. Bennett said after Gilliam's untimely death the position was eliminated and had to be re-created in order to advertise and hire for the vacancy.

The impact of Gilliam's death weighed heavily on school personnel and board members, with board member Begley mentioning the importance of cherishing every day of life during a prayer prior to the opening of the board meeting.

One item on the agenda was revised and tabled until the next board meeting on July 22 - the evaluation of Bennett. That was tabled due to the absence of board attorney, Larry Bryson.

Other actions included:

• Approval of the KSBA Board Policy/Procedure Updates and the Employee Handbook

• Approval of Bluegrass Orthopaedics Athletic Training agreement, which Bennett explained would allow an athletic trainer in the school system at a reduced cost to the school district

• Approved the architect contract for re-roofing project at Bush Elementary

• Approved re-creating one MSD teacher at North Laurel Middle School and creating a Transportation Coordinator position for the school district. Bennett said the Transportation Coordinator position was to combine several outdated positions.

• Approved agreement with Kentucky Transportation Cabinet's Division of Driver Licensing for use of school facilities to conduct adult driver's training classes.

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