Friday, November 13, 2015

November Fort Thomas School Board Round-Up

By Amanda Dibiaso

Rick Rafferty. FTM file. 

The Fort Thomas School Board held their monthly meeting Monday, November 9. Board member John Weyer was absent. Here’s your round-up:

Recognition of Rick Rafferty:
The board recognized Highlands Middle School Modern World Cultures teacher Rick Rafferty, who was selected as one of the top three middle school teachers in Kentucky by the Kentucky Department of Education and Ashland Inc.

During the meeting, Senator Wil Schroder read a citation celebrating Rafferty’s achievement.

Rafferty receives recognition by Sen. Wil Schroder. FTM file. 
Rafferty, who has been teaching in the district for 18 years, said he never expected to be chosen for the honor.

“I was absolutely blown away,” said Rafferty, pointing out that teaching is a team effort. “I happen to be the guy that got chosen, but this is about all of us.”

Student Showcase:

Highlands Middle School seventh graders Ada Donelan, Audrey Durr, Hannah Ford and Claire Sebree gave a presentation about the school’s Science, Math, Engineering & Technology (STEM) classes.

The classes include six different modules throughout the school year, covering topics including flight technology, electricity, robotics, home improvement and more.

Board Chair Karen Allen said knowing the kind of practical skills STEM teaches is important for students, and she loves the exposure they’re getting in the classes.

Highlands High School Renovation updates:
Director of Operations Jerry Wissman updated the board on the progress of the renovations at Highlands High Schools. Wissman said the only major item left to complete at the field house is the new asphalt, which contractors are waiting until spring break to complete.

Works continues on the new gymnasium. Wissman said he expects Cincinnati Floor to start installed the new gymnasium floor on Nov. 23. The current floor was damaged in September when rain leaked into the building in September. The leaks happened in 6 places of the roof where Century Construction has been working to renovate the building.

The board passed an emergency measure on Oct. 7 to replace the gym floor - a $211,200 project that will be paid for by Century Construction’s insurance.

While crews are working to fix the parts of the roof that leaked, board member Brad Fennell said the fact that it leaked shows that there was a design flaw in the gymnasium renovation project plans and expressed his concern that the roof may leak again in the future.

Moyer Elementary School Renovation update:
Wissman announced that the Moyer Elementary School project is underway and joined board members in asking that everyone please be patient throughout the process.

Because of the small size of the property and its close proximity to neighbors, the project poses challenges that will affect students, parents, and the community.

Wissman said the district is working with the city and Fort Thomas Swim Club to make the project run as smoothly as possible.

Approval of revised tuition policy:
The board approved the revised tuition policy that was presented by Assistant Superintendent Jon Stratton at last month’s meeting.

The revision consisted of adding the student’s overall educational record to the criteria used when determining whether or not to admit a nonresident student.

Brigance Kindergarten Screening:
Stratton presented the results of this year’s Brigance Kindergarten Screening. The district began screening all incoming kindergarteners last year. The screening includes five areas:

- Cognitive/general knowledge
- Language/communication
- Physical well-being
- Self-help
- Social-emotional

This year a total of 201 students were screened. Of those, 39 were ready with enrichments, 105 were ready and 59 were not ready.

Stratton said identifying students who are not ready can be important for several reasons. If a student isn’t ready, parents may wait a year to put them in kindergarten depending on their age. The screening can also help the district know the students’ needs ahead of time so teachers can be prepared to provide additional support when necessary.

Superintendent Gene Kirchner said the screening results are a reflection on the kind of experiences children have had so far in their lives and it’s up to educators, parents and the community to work together to intervene early on so those who are behind can catch up, and make the changes necessary to help children in the future be better prepared.

Audit Report:
Stephanie Allgeyer from VonLehman CPA presented on overview of the 2014-15 Audit Report for the fiscal year that ended in June.

She said it was a clean report, with everything reported fairly.

The report did include a new line item - the district’s portion of the net pension liability for current and past classified employees, totaling $4,288,514.

While the district has paid the correct amount into the pension system every year, the additional liability, which has been added to the budgets of all government entities including cities and schools, is what each would have to pay if the overall underfunding of the state’s pension system isn’t addressed by state legislature.

Kentucky’s unfunded pension liabilities are currently in excess of $20 billion, with the district’s proportion of the net pension liability being .13%.

Check back for a full story on this.

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