School board members held a 30-minute conversation about the good and bad of Alan Reed’s administration as superintendent before voting against renewing his contract for four years.
During the regular monthly meeting Thursday night board chairman Floyd Burton said he felt it would be fair to everyone to address Reed’s contract now even though his current contract does not end until June 30, 2016.
Burton proposed a four-year contract with the current pay scale and salary agreement, which states that Reed would not get a raise unless other certified personnel get an equal percentage increase.
Burton and Mike Harris voted for the new contract while Terry Harvey, Lisa Burton and Quinn Lasley voted no.
Harris talked about numerous improvements made in the school district since Reed became superintendent in July 2012.
“I’ve seen more done in the last three years than the previous nine years I sat on the board,” Harris said. “The computer situation, all the other years on the board we could never match all the technology funds; we were always three years behind. We are caught up in that. We didn’t have any funds and now we have over $2 million in contingency.”
Harris offered a list of academic achievements as well as cost-cutting measures initiated under Reed’s watch.
“All these savings have been accomplished from his leadership,” Harris said.
Other board members brought up areas they want to see addressed.
“I do think he has done a good job for the district. I think he has cleaned up the grounds cosmetically. My concern is putting something on the inside,” Lasley said. “You just mentioned the school supplies list. I see teachers come in the store and buying supplies from their own pocket. That should not happen. I don’t like that. I don’t like to see a parent with three or four children come in and try to buy these supplies.”
Lasley said she believes the board needs to rectify that problem and said, “I am willing to give you another chance to make that happen.”
Harris said that is something the board can do next year now that they have the revenue. He noted that the district is now paying fuel costs for athletic trips.
“Quite honestly I hadn’t thought about this (buying supplies) until I saw some complaints about it and thought, ‘You know what, we can get in the position to make that happen, because we have the money to do that now.”
Lisa Burton said she also recognizes that ” a lot of good things have been done,” but she is hearing a lot of complaints from the public and particularly teachers.
“I understand why anyone would not come in here because everybody fears for their jobs. The morale of the teachers is fairly low,” she said. “There are different issues in each school I am sure and a lot of it is struggling with supplies and things like that.”
Lisa Burton said she also believes there is a problem with “knowing what is going on. ”
“A lot of times we get these packets, it’s a surprise for us,” she said. “The community needs to know what is going on, they need to know ahead of time that if they have an issue they can come in. I hope eventually they won’t be scared to sign their name–teachers and the public–and say some things here.”
Lasley responded to Burton’s comments.
“It is a sad indictment if you cannot go to your boss or anyone else with an open door policy and express how you feel about your job without repercussion. That should not happen,” Lasley said.
Harris said people choose whether or not to sign in and speak during public meetings.
“That’s up to them,” Harris said, adding that in the past people were required to ask to be on the agenda at least 10 days prior to a meeting or they were not allowed to speak.
Harris said he and former board member Marsha Walker changed that policy so anyone can speak when they attend a meeting.
Reed responded to comments about teacher morale saying a lot of the morale issues stem from unreasonable state mandates. He also responded to the open door policy.
“The day people can’t come to my office–its always open–and talk to me, I will leave. That is not the way I operate,” Reed said.
As for some of the beautification projects being completed that board members complained about not being aware of, Floyd Burton said they were all part of a master plan the board approved three ago.
Harvey said Reed cut several career pathways when he first became superintendent and Reed said he never cut any career pathways.
“You did on the ag,” said Harvey, who was an agriculture teacher and retired when Reed became administrator. The agriculture teacher position, which was one of three at the high school, was eliminated after Harvey’s retirement.
Reed said he emphatically denied eliminating the position and said Kentucky law makes it clear that those decisions are made at the school level.
“We have been bombarded with phone calls,” Harvey said. “People out here in the community are very unhappy, that’s what I hear.”
Harris said when the new school was already being constructed the state changed some policy about primary attendance that affected the reconfiguration.
“In two weeks time–they told him in Frankfort it couldn’t be done–(Reed) got the committee together, he got it reconfigured and changed the configuration of those schools so that allowed us to tear down Col. Wm. Casey and John Adair, which according to the state were the number one and number eight worst facilities in the state,” Harris said.
We were able to tear down both schools–that is what is saving us at least $800,000 a year in our budget. That is why we have $2 million plus in our contingency fund. That is why we were able to improve our campus like it has never been done in the last 20 years. So I have no apologies for what he has done, and I applaud him because if we had had someone else in that position…anybody else would say, ‘We are already building the school, we can’t change this.'”
Harris said academic scores at the high school have gone from the 20 percentile to over 60 percentile.
“When I see a report where our computers have doubled for our students in the last couple of years, I applaud him. When I see the number of Chrome Books, I applaud him. When I see them improving our technology infrastructure, I applaud him,” Harris said.
He also noted that for years people complained they were embarrassed for people from other counties to compare their sports facilities to the local district.
“Look at our football field and how nice it is,” he said. “Look at all our sports facilities. They have been improved…For all the years I heard parents complain about being embarrassed about having people come to our school district, for the shape it is in, I have no apologies for it and I’m really thrilled that the campus is being improved, it’s being landscaped, it’s being lit for safety.”
Harris made the motion to renew Reed’s contract and Floyd Burton seconded the motion. Lisa Burton, Harvey and Lasely voted no.
With no further discussion, the board voted to adjourn.