NLHS artificial turf bid awarded, staff praised for efforts during COVID-19 pandemic

Photo by Nita Johnson

Members of the Laurel County School Board practiced social distancing during their meeting on Monday evening, arranging seating for school officials to be six feet apart, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Gov. Andy Beshear. Seating in the audience was also arranged for that same distance. Pictured here are: Larry Bryson, school board attorney, Bud Stuber, Ed Jones, Jeff Lewis, Phillip Bundy and John Begley. Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett and Deputy Superintendent Denise Griebel are seated at a table in the foreground.

Superintendent Dr. Doug Bennett commended the staff for their cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic during Monday's meeting.

"I want to recognize amazing work of this school district, from the classified employees to bus drivers to the staff everywhere," Bennett told board members. "It is truly special to see such a team, so unified and dedicated to the students."

While students are currently dismissed from school as the state takes action to prevent the further spread of the Coronavirus, Bennett said the teachers had done an outstanding job in making educational resources available to students during this unplanned absence from school.

"The teachers have sent home educational packets and are posting online. Our students will be in good shape due to their hard work," he said.

While no mention of the request by Gov. Andy Beshear for schools to not return until at least April 20 was made during the meeting, the district has posted on its website that it won't return to school until that date.

Bennett also updated board members on the breakfast and lunch programs which began on Monday.

"We served 1,500 meals on Monday, but this was the first day," Bennett said.

But with nearly 9,000 students across the district, some board members were concerned about getting head counts and ensuring that large quantities of food were not going to waste. Bennett responded that meals are prepared daily and while the first day of the service just served as a head count for the future and assured the five board members that plans are in place to ensure that does not take place.

"The meals are prepared and we'll see how it goes on a day-to-day basis," Bennett said. "We have plenty of bologna, ham, and turkey. Today was important to get the numbers since it was the first day. Should we have meals that are not distributed, we have a plan for that."

Board members also demonstrated social distancing by arranging chairs and seating to the recommended guidelines of six feet apart during Monday's meeting.

The bid from ITS Sprint Turf for the artificial surface on North Laurel High's football field was also approved during Monday's meeting. Bennett said ITS was the lowest bid and included a higher quality turf.

"The bid from ITS is for alternating green and dark surface with 48-pile turf," Bennett said. "The bid was for $831,270."

Adam Hooker, finance officer for the school district, said the bid called for 42-pile turf but that ITS offered a higher grade. He also answered questions from board members about ITS, with Hooker responding that the company has done numerous projects in Kentucky as well as other states and was considered quite a reputable company. He added that the dismissal of school might advance the project, which was slated to begin March 30.

"Given that there are no sports, they could start as soon as possible," Hooker said. "But even before the virus started, we had this worked out so South Laurel would host some of the North Laurel events."

Board members approved that bid, with the sole "nay" vote coming from Ed Jones, who has consistently voted no to the project since it was first presented to the board members. Those approving the project were Bud Stuber, Phillip Bundy, Jeff Lewis and John Begley.

Other actions approved included:

• Agreement for non-resident students to/from Jackson County schools;

• Agreement to provide Commercial Driver's License contract with Pulaski County school district for examinations and instruction with the Laurel County program;

• Agreed to make a contribution to the D.A.R.E. program; and

• Approved applications for Family Resource/Youth Service Center grants for Johnson and Camp Ground Elementary.

njohnson@sentinel-echo.com

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