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CCHS welcomes the littlest Lakers

By Jessica Paine | Sept. 25, 2023

MURRAY – Calloway County School District administrators had plenty of good news to report at last week’s Calloway County Board of Education meeting, but the highlight of the evening was the discussion of an overwhelmingly positive collaboration between the district’s oldest and youngest Lakers.

Calloway County High School Principal Steve Smith invited a classroom of preschoolers to the school to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. After the pledge, CCHS students lined the hallways, cheering and giving the little Lakers high fives as they walked back to the preschool. It was a simple idea, but its simplicity should not discount the surprisingly profound impact the experience had on all involved.

It was not hard to imagine the positive energy flowing freely through the school that morning as Smith and Calloway County Preschool Principal Leisha Barlow’s excitement was infectious when they talked about the uplifting experience.

“I had so many people say, ‘Did you see the look on our high school kids faces when they were leaving?’” Smith said. “It was just a breath of fresh air in our building, and it was a good start to our day; so, we’re going to try to keep doing that.”

“It was just the coolest experience to be part of,” said Calloway County Preschool Principal Leisha Barlow. “They were very proud of themselves. Their little eyes were big because they weren’t really sure exactly what was going on, but they were proud; they were walking tall, and they were that way for several hours after.”

News of the success of the venture even made its way to Superintendent Tres Settle, who said, “The high school kids loved it. I have heard about it. Kudos to you all for organizing that because it was awesome.”

During administrative reports, Finance Director April Lax advised the district’s beginning balance for the month of August was $16,901,859; revenue for the month was $2,287,249; expenditures totaled $3,333,292, bringing the closing balance for August to $15,855,816.

As part of the consent agenda, the board approved the working budget report and summary for fiscal year 2024. Settle praised Lax for doing “an outstanding job” preparing the budget and working with auditors for the annual audit. “She does a lot of work behind the scenes, and she does an outstanding job for us,” he said to the board before telling Lax, “Thank you.”

Supply chain issues are, once again, a concern for Food Service Director Megan Adams, she noted in her food service report. Although she has been assured product availability will improve in the next three to four weeks, she said dealing with it is very time-consuming at the moment. She also advised having two open positions – one at North Elementary and the other at Southwest Elementary.

Last month, Transportation Director Matt Turner reported he was in the process of making adjustments to the newly consolidated routes to balance out the number of students on each bus. This month, he reported having 27 regular routes, including five preschool routes and two special needs routes. He also noted that all the routes are staffed with full-time drivers, all bus monitor positions are filled and there are three standby sub positions staffed. Regarding the current staffing situation, Turner said, “We’re doing very well right now.”

“I’ve been on the board eight years, and I’ve never heard that,” interjected board member Van Pitman. Board Chair Jay Housden called it “great news.” But Turner reminded the board the situation is always subject to change.

As part of the consent agenda, the board approved Turner’s request for three new 2024 model buses, which will be purchased with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds. During his report, Turner specified the request is for one preschool bus; one 72-passenger, full-size front-engine bus; and one 84-passenger rear-engine, also known as a “pusher,” bus.

“The reason I’m trying to get a pusher this year is because I’d like to have a ‘trip’ vehicle for big trips,” Turner said. “Also, when we combined routes this year, we saw the need for an 84-passenger bus. We’re doing good right now, but I would like to have that option in the future.”

As of last week, the district’s strategic planning process is officially underway. In the superintendent’s report, Settle advised that a representative from Huron Studer Education, the company contracted to guide the district through the process, had already met with several stakeholder groups, including classified staff, teachers, parents, high school students and community business leaders.

“This morning, we started with students from the high school; that was a phenomenal meeting,” Settle said. “Matter of fact, I told that group I want to have them back again; they brought up some things that I think we really need to look at that were off my radar completely. So, we’re going to be talking to them some more.”

“I’m just excited about this process,” he added, “and once you all have the opportunity to contribute your thoughts, what will happen is we will begin compiling and looking for trends in data, so to speak, and start looking at ways we can narrow it down to four or five main focal points for our strategic plan moving forward.”

In an update on the project to build a new entrance to Calloway County Middle School off of KY 121, Settle said that surveying would begin soon, starting behind the soccer field on the main campus, moving toward the middle school. They are looking at having to widen the existing road, currently for bus traffic only, to be able to handle the increased traffic.

“I’ve heard several different theories and rumors on how far the added lanes will go,” Settle said of the turn lanes to be built on KY 121. “I talked with Bobby (Deitz with Bacon Farmer Workman Engineering & Testing), he felt like it needed to go all the way down to Bailey Road and probably back towards the (National Guard Armory) going the other way; but that’s not concrete yet. There’s some surveying that has to be done there as well to see if it’s doable and if access can be granted from the private property owners.”

Settle also advised the board that he and Maintenance Director Kenny Duncan are looking into purchasing a GPS-directed field-painting robot because, during mowing season, employees spend a considerable amount of time striping athletic fields. The two recently visited a school in Graves County to see the robot in action.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “Basically, you fill it full of paint, plug it in and, once your field is mapped, this thing will run the whole field, paint it for you; it will even paint logos if you want it to. We’re interested; we’re getting different quotes and bids right now, which is a process. I think it’s something our kids can even get involved with – robotics and understanding how that works.”

In other business, the board approved a revised BG-1, which is an application districts must file with the Kentucky Department of Education before beginning any building project, for HVAC upgrades at the Calloway County Day Treatment Center. Settle said the revised plan came in under the original amount approved. Also related to the project, the board approved the contract between the district and Trane on the project along with a direct purchase order for the HVAC equipment.

The next regular board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at the board office.

Sentinel Staff

Jessica Paine
I’m Jessica Paine, founder of The Murray Sentinel. You may know me from my time as a citizen journalist, running the Calloway Covid-19 Count page on Facebook, or you may be familiar with my more recent work for another local news outlet. Being that I’m “from here,” you may have known me since I was “knee-high to a grasshopper,” although you knew me as Jessica Jones. But whether you know me or not, I’m glad you found your way here.

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