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McCracken board finalizes school facility changes

BY KATHLEEN FOXkfox@paducahsun.com

The county school board completed the final step of the lengthy process to amend the district facilities plan by approving changes that will affect the school structure in the Heath and Reidland areas after next school year.

The McCracken County School Board met Thursday night at the board office. Board members approved the amended district facilities plan by a vote of 3-1 with Michael Hatton voting against. He restated his opinion against putting fourth- and fifth-grade students in the same facility with middle schoolers.

The board approved the public hearing minutes for the plan during their March meeting. The minutes and the full amendment were then sent to the Kentucky Department of Education and the state school board for approval then returned to the local board for action.

The approved changes are on a graduated timeline for the next two school years. The only alteration applicable for the 2014-2015 school year is the movement of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students currently in the Reidland Middle School building to the newer side of the former high school complex.

For the 2015-2016 school year, the plan includes the closure of Farley Elementary School and reconfiguration of students. During the meeting, the board also declared Farley Elementary School as surplus property, effective the summer after next school year ends, according to Assistant Superintendent Heath Cartwright.

Fourth- and fifth-grade students would move along with sixth- through eighth-grade students currently in the middle school to the former high school building. The facility would then be called Reidland Intermediate School but would function as two distinct entities. The amendment also includes moving fifth-grade students currently in Heath and Concord elementary schools to Heath Middle School to ease overcrowding issues that same year, he said.

A new district local planning committee will meet in January and evaluate the needs of all district-owned properties.

Dan Pope, Lone Oak Elementary School principal, presented a report on the school and highlighted several obstacles the employees have faces despite the school's distinguished scores. He listed a lack of an assistant principal position in many of the district's elementary schools, and a lack of adequate staff members in gifted and talented education, response to intervention programming and in special areas where several schools share staff members. He asked for the board's help through an allocation of additional funds to those needs in McCracken County elementary schools.

In other meeting business, the board approved the receipt of funding for four Read to Achieve grants that provide money for local schools to offer services for struggling readers from kindergarten to third grade. These grants, which pay for partial salaries and program costs, allow the reading intervention programs to continue at Concord, Reidland, Lone Oak and Hendron-Lone Oak elementary schools. The grant funding will be $48,500 per year for two years at each of the four schools totaling $388,000, according to McCracken County Grant Writer Adam Shull.

Assistant Superintendent Johnna Lee DeJarnett presented the yearly community partnership report, which includes 39 partners with contracts ranging from one to 10 years and a total raised of about $637,000. Kathy Johnson, McCracken County special education coordinator, presented an overview report of the district RTI system to board members.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

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