HAZARD — Sitting at a three-foot-high table surrounded by colorful posters touting messages such as “Reading Takes You Places” is not the usual setting for the Hazard Independent School Board meetings, though this was exactly how the meeting was conducted in Roy G. Eversole Elementary’s soon-to-be old library last week.
Board members met at the elementary school, which is set to be completely renovated in the coming weeks, Thursday evening to see firsthand how the renovations have improved the nearly 50-year-old building.
Joseph Clark, an architect with the firm Clotfelter-Samokar, presented the board with a brief update on construction and pay application requests for the elementary school and Hazard Middle School to McKinght and Associates, which the board approved.
“They hope to be finished up with construction around here (Roy G.) by the 1st of July, and Walkertown (Hazard Middle School) should be finished up by the end of the month,” Clark said. “So, by the next board meeting we all kind of hope and feel that the last pay application will be done then.”
Clark said the only thing standing in the way of construction completion is the weather since the only work left to do, besides any touchups before school starts, is the outside of the school. Construction crews are laying concrete and putting up columns for the front entrance this week.
Superintendent Sandra Johnson said the improvements to the building may not sound like a lot to those who are not familiar with the school, but new windows, heating and cooling systems, and classroom doors which lock from the inside will make a big difference to those who will be using the facility in the coming school year.
“These (air conditioning units) were installed when I was teaching, so it’s definitely time for an upgrade,” Johnson said during a tour of the school after the regular board meeting.
Eddie Whitaker, principal of Roy G. Eversole Elementary, led the tour, pointing out repairs that will make major improvements to the quality of life for students and faculty in the coming school year.
“These windows are double-paned and really keep out the noise and weather outside,” Whitaker said as he led the tour down Roy G.’s window-filled hallway. “You’ll definitely be able to tell a difference in the winter here.”
Whitaker had also presented the board, during the board meeting, with an update on the elementary school’s Comprehensive School Improvement Plan Implementation and Impact (CSIP I&I) checklist. The CSIP I&I checklist is a means for the state to determine how schools and school districts plan to ensure that all students are college and career ready.
Whitaker said the school had adopted a plan involving trying out different strategies and activities with how subjects are taught in the classroom, and the teachers and students have been taking well to the changes in teaching styles.
In other business, the board approved a 10 cent increase on school lunches for the coming year. Johnson said the increase was planned last summer to be implemented this year to make up for funds owed to the National School Lunch Program.
“The National School Lunch Program requires that locally you collect a certain percentage of the lunch. We were not up to what we were required to collect,” Johnson said.
Johnson also said the outstanding lunch bills for the district are still mostly unpaid, with only around 30 percent of the bills having been paid. The board discussed solutions to this issue that has been ongoing for years.
“The state recommends using small claims court. We can only file a maximum of 25 small claims cases annually. So, I mean, how do you pick 25,” Johnson said. “Most of them end up carrying these charges until it’s time to graduate. You either pay it or you get that blank diploma. That’s when they pay it and that’s how it’s been for several years.”
Johnson said she has looked at other school districts’ policies regarding this issue.
“Some schools are giving them a cheese sandwich and a milk,” she said. “I’m not going to do that. I cannot recommend doing that. It’s not the child’s fault. I will pay for their lunch before I do that.”