HAZARD — The Hazard Independent Board of Education held its first regular meeting of 2013 Thursday night at the central office to elect board officials as well as discuss how renovation projects are going in the school system.
Before the meeting started, Lisa Townes, Ralph Asher, and Grady Varney were sworn in as board members; Varney was re-elected as board chairman after the meeting was called to order.
Joseph Clark, an architect with the firm Clotfelter-Samokar, presented the board with a progress report. The board unanimously approved two pay application requests and a change order request to the contractor McKnight and Associates for renovations to Walkertown Middle and Roy G. Eversole Elementary schools.
Clark said that while the renovations are slightly behind schedule at the moment, plans are still for the schools to be finished in the spring.
“As we get further along we can start tightening up those dates and start pinning down a date for completion,” Clark said.
The board voted in 2011 to switch the district’s primary and middle school locations, bringing a need for renovations and construction that has been ongoing through the current school year. Plans for renovations for the high school are still in the works.
Clark said there are a few milestones the construction crew will be reaching in the coming weeks, including finishing with plumbing work and window installation in both buildings.
Superintendent Sandra Johnson said she has noticed the positive changes the construction has brought to the schools already.
“There’s a huge difference in the elementary school. The long hallway where everybody was complaining about it being so cold, I walked through there today. [It was] comfortable,” Johnson said.
The board also took note of other concerns and possible issues coming from the construction, including a dust problem at Roy G. Eversole, as well as some safety concerns that the construction is addressing.
Johnson said with the new renovations come solutions to safety issues the schools have had in the past, including door locks and increased public access to the building. She said she hopes to address safety and security concerns with the high school when the district is able to start renovations there.
In closing remarks, Varney said he and his staff understand that things are different in the world compared to when he was in school.
“There’s plenty of times I’ll get comments, you know, ‘Well, what are you all doing at your schools to make things safe?’ It’d be the last thing that we would want to see any of our children hurt,” Varney said. “It takes a community, and I know our employees have done an excellent job.”
The board also adopted a technology plan for 2013. John Quillen, the district technology coordinator, said the plan is virtually the same as years past, but with more emphasis on SMART Boards.
“The big push for us, right now, is we’ve got SMART Boards right now in almost every classroom in the middle school and the primary school and that’s a real effective teaching tool,” Quillen said.
Quillen said the district has already installed 12 new SMART Boards this past year and has written a grant for 90 new iMac computers. The board also plans to have more training available to teachers in the coming months for the SMART Boards so they will be able to use them more effectively in the classroom.
Regina Cornett, the district’s financial officer, presented the district’s draft budget for the 2012-2013 fiscal year, which Cornett said will essentially just roll over as the budget from last year. The board unanimously approved the budget.
Revenue for the month of December was $546,922 for the Hazard Independent School District, and $168,526 of that was property tax collection from the sheriff’s department. The ending balance for December was just over $1.34 million, which was higher than the previous month. The district is estimated to spend $7.15 million this fiscal year in salary and other expenses, including construction costs.
Cornett said expenses were down from what was projected, and that most of the expenses for the last month were from construction costs.
The school board will meet again on Thursday, Feb. 2.