The Miami Trace Local Schools Board of Education met on Monday evening and discussed updates on the new high school, growing safety concerns from students and upcoming testing.
The board meeting began at 5:30 p.m. with the “Winner’s Circle” presentation. This month, school resource and DARE officer, Fayette County Sheriff’s Office deputy Montana Coe, and MT Student Safety and Attendance Coordinator, Jack Anders, were recognized during the meeting. With the recent school shooting in Florida still fresh in everyone’s mind, the board wanted to honor the efforts of Coe and Anders to keep Miami Trace a safe place to learn.
“Monty Coe is our resource officer and is part of a contract we have had with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office for the last three or four years, where we have a deputy on campus all day, every day that school is in session,” Miami Trace Superintendent David Lewis said during the meeting. “Jack Anders helps our principals out a great deal with truancy, attendance, submits safety plans to the state, and he works really closely with Monty on safety issues and discipline issues within the district. We felt that with everything we have had going on this year with the bomb threats and a lot of the things we have done safety-wise, we just wanted to honor them at a board meeting. We are very, very lucky to have them.”
After the recognition and photo, the board moved onto the regular agenda and approved Gina Andrews as both a substitute central office secretary and as substitute educational support personnel. The board considered a petition for property through forfeiture as notified by the Fayette County Common Pleas Court, but decided they would not like the property and voted against keeping it.
Miami Trace Business Manager Bill Franke also addressed the board prior to administrative reports concerning change orders on the new high school project. The board authorized Franke prior to the project’s start to approve change orders under $50,000, but for change orders above $50,000 he must seek board approval.
“The first one, electrical revisions, as you know they had reconfigured the bus parking lot over there,” Franke said. “As part of the reconfiguration, the original design did not include bus heaters and lighting in that parking lot, something the designers simply missed, but we caught that later on and it was added via a change order. The second order, as they were finishing up the final designs and checking elevations for the orchestra pit in the new building, it was determined that the pit was actually lower than the top of ‘Panther Lake’ or whatever we want to call it out there. So to remove the water they need to pump it out as it can’t flow via gravity. We anticipated these costs.”
Franke said the new high school project continues to progress as expected. Over the next two weeks, steel erection in the gym, wood blocking and metal framing, roofing, window installation, painting and more are expected to occur. Franke also discussed the need for a “sign strategy” to replace speed limit signs, stop signs and other signage on and around the campus. Franke also thanked treasurer Debbie Black for going above and beyond to ensure the financial success and stability of the project. Black held several-hours-long meetings with contractors, engineers, school employees and the state to ensure the high school project money was accounted for and how much the project still has in its remaining fund.
The first administrative report to the board came from athletic director Aaron Hammond about the end of the winter sports season and the beginning of the spring sports season. He spoke on the various winter sports during his report, commenting on successful seasons, Frontier Athletic Conference (FAC) wins and places, and upcoming dates of importance.
Next was Ryan Davis, Miami Trace Elementary School principal, who spoke about the end of “Hello Week” as part of their anti-bullying campaign. Additionally, the school recently held “Donuts with Dad,” a “Daddy-Daughter Dance,” and PTO skating parties. The school will begin MAP Testing this month and will have state testing shortly thereafter.
A middle school representative shared her report with the board for principal Jason Binegar, who was unable to attend the meeting. The middle school administration recently held the “Signs of Suicide,” which was completed in conjunction with the guidance office. Eighth grade students participated in a presentation and completed a response card and depression screening, which helped to identify students who may need more assistance. The representative thanked the counseling departments within the school for helping administer the program and follow up with students.
Next to address the board was Rob Enochs, principal at the high school. Enochs also talked testing for students, explaining that all junior students would be taking the ACT this week. Several students participated in Saturday boot camps to prepare for this test, and overall it was a large, yet successful undertaking to get the many students registered for the test. Enochs also discussed the upcoming National Honor Society induction ceremony, six students out of 26 identified at the beginning of the year who are still at-risk of not graduating and other options to help them graduate, and a concern about how to let kids take part in upcoming “walk-outs” against school violence and showing solidarity with the victims of the Florida shooting.
Technology director, Katy Zink, addressed access points for the new and current buildings and pricing for these points. According to Zink, in the past the schools received as high as a 70 percent discount for these points and Zink said she is hoping for that discount again this year. She also discussed thousands of pieces of technology, which will need to be gathered and reset for the 2018-19 school year.
Assistant Superintendent Kim Pittser thanked the school administrators during the meeting for their efforts to prepare students for testing. She said every decision directly or indirectly impacts the school report card and through extra events such as literacy events at the elementary school and the ACT preparedness at the high school, progress can be made and will show increases in the report card.
Finally, Lewis addressed the board on a number of topics, but the longest time was spent discussing national walk-outs at schools, a letter circulated to parents about an upcoming safety forum scheduled for Thursday, and how several students wrote a letter to the high school and Lewis expressing a desire to join these movements. Lewis and Enochs both asked the board for their opinions on the best way to allow students to be involved. Most board members were in agreement to allow the kids to participate, but did not want it to be about gun control or the Second Amendment. The board wants the demonstrations to focus entirely on “anti-school violence,” and told Lewis and Enochs they will fully back any decision the two make about allowing students to participate. Overall, the board agreed that they just want the students to be safe and expressed these concerns with Anders and Coe.
Following board member reports, the board of education adjourned for the evening.
Stay with the Record-Herald for monthly updates from the Miami Trace Local Schools.
Reach Martin Graham at (740) 313-0351 or on Twitter @MartiTheNewsGuy