Parent shares story of bullying at school board | New
On Thursday, a parent made a moving appeal to Madison County school board members to take action against bullying at a local high school.
The parent, who identified himself as Adriana and said she has two daughters in the school system, spoke to the school board during public comments at the regular board meeting. During her comments, she told council members about the bullying suffered by her daughter and other students at Madison Central High School and Madison Middle School.
“I don’t think you’re focusing on what you really should be,” the relative told the council. “…Nobody really cares about the mental health issues you have at this school…I think you’re not doing enough; just to be honest.
She told the school board that her daughter had been physically bullied and called racial slurs by another student. She also noted that she had made several attempts to contact Superintendent David Gilliam and that issues arose on several occasions, so she approached the council in person, asking what they were going to do about the bullying. .
“I think it’s a conversation we’re having and we’re still trying to figure out what the answers are. Because no one knows what the answers are to mental health. Obviously we’ll be following what’s going on with your daughter. As a board, we always have conversations about mental health and what we can do. We know it’s a problem, we know it’s a problem,” said the board chairman, Brandon Rutherford.
In response to this, the parent said bullying at school was all over social media and she feared the crisis could lead to a school shooting.
She said the council was “turning a blind eye” to the situation.
Rutherford responded that the council is looking for mental health counselors to deal with situations like bullying and that it is a difficult process because such counselors are hard to find.
Gilliam also noted that he also wanted to follow up with the woman and appreciated the relative for sharing his story.
In other business, Tony Thomas of Clotfelter-Samokar Construction gave his monthly update on the various school system construction projects in the county.
Renovations at Clark Moores Middle School are still ongoing, with work underway throughout the facility. According to Thomas, the work has included everything from ceiling panels to freezers and renovations to the gymnasium. With the exception of work at the library, Thomas estimates that the renovations will be completed in time for the start of the school year on August 17.
The dugouts at Madison Central High School and Madison Southern High School are progressing. After a break during prom season, the concrete has been poured to the dugouts, with the next and final step to be completed is the construction of the roofs.
North Madison Central’s Ignite Academy will open to students on August 17, while Madison Southern’s South Ignite Academy construction is on hold.
According to Thomas, the main setback comes from a lack of air conditioning in the building. As of now, it is estimated that the air will be brought to the building on August 15, which has slowed down work on the building.
Superintendent Gilliam said the delay at the Ignite South location will have an effect on teachers at Madison Southern.
“At Ignite South, these teachers, we have about four or five that are currently at Madison Southern, they will just stay there in the classrooms that they used to have,” Superintendent Gilliam said. “The administration had already planned to revamp some rooms and do a few things with some of these areas – we’ll just have to delay those plans until later in the year. We added three programs to that. So we’re just gonna find a place for Madison Southern to double for the first few weeks of school. It’s nothing we haven’t done before.
Gilliam is optimistic. Ignite South will be complete and ready for students within weeks of installing air conditioning in the building. The board and Thomas expressed their frustration with the contractors working on the installation.
During Madison County Schools Chief Financial Officer Mark Wood’s monthly financial report, the chief financial officer said the school ended June with a reconciled bank balance of $57,343,123.18. The number is down from the same time last year, Woods said, due to various construction projects being undertaken in the district.
The board approved a spending plan for the ESSER funds. The funds will be divided between three axes. 22% will go to operational continuity and other uses, 11% will go to the physical health and safety of staff and students, and the remaining funds will go to meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of students, according to Elements ESSER funds can be spent by the federal government. The funds are focused on students and helping them overcome the obstacles of the pandemic.
Since ESSER funds are reimbursement funds, the money must be spent before it is reimbursed by the school.
“We have a plan to continue to spend the funds and ensure we meet the needs of our students,” Woods said. “We have to spend the money first. We have to float the money. By the time we pass it, you’re about two weeks into the next month. We send that to the state, and if we’re lucky, we get refunds. So you’re two months out, you go about two months short of having a month, so you’re in the third month of spending before you get the first month’s money back.
The next item on the agenda was the approval of tuition fees.
“These are the fees that every school asks and asks for. It is our board policy that they remain in place until removed or amended. The only proposed change is actually this – I sent it out to all the schools, got them to respond, all the principals went through it. The only change we requested was from Silver Creek Elementary,” Woods said.
Silver Creek Elementary hoped to change the fiddle club to the guitar club in their fee change. Fees are waived for students with free and discounted lunch.
The second reading of the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) School System Policy Updates has been approved.
The first reading of revised policies 03.11, 03.21 and 09.121. These changes come outside of KSBA’s policy changes. 03.11 and 03.21 are changes to hiring, with physical job postings set up at the school system’s central office in Richmond and the rest online. 09.121 sees entrance age policies adjusted for kindergarten students. He has set a date for those requesting early entry into kindergarten.
District funding assurances have been approved by the Board of Directors. Superintendent Gilliam described this as a routine motion.
“The Kentucky Department of Education basically sends us a list of things that basically have all of the federal laws, all of the regulations, all of the requirements,” Gilliam said. “These are just all the things we are required to do to receive state and/or federal funding. We just acknowledge that these things exist and we are going to obey the law,” he said.
A furniture purchase has been approved for Clark Moores Middle School. It was a three phase process, this was the third and final purchase – at $47,619.
Council approved the purchase of a skid steer loader for $68,300, which will eliminate the need to frequently rent the same piece of equipment.
The purchase of the second of three loads of paper for the school year has been approved for $36,372. Normally three truckloads are purchased at a time, but there have been unforeseen problems at the paper mill the school sources from.
The board approved the purchase of training aids for the school’s industrial maintenance program from Amatrol PO’s Ignite Academies at $177,734.
As for the action program for the night, the council closed things out with offers on the installation of the new cooling tower at Madison Kindergarten Academy. The same action also saw the bid approved on roof repairs following the removal of the current cooling tower in place at the school. The offer was awarded to TP Mechanical for $219,365. Construction will begin in October, with the construction company contracted to complete the project in 40 days.
Superintendent Gilliam was also named school board secretary at the meeting.