Middlesboro School Board celebrates recent successes

Published 4:21 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2024

It’s been a very successful month of February for Middlesboro Independent Schools. The high school cheerleading team won the UCA National Championship in their division, and both the high school and middle school academic teams placed first in their regional Governor’s Cup competitions. Those accomplishments were acknowledged at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

“All I can say is ‘Wow.’ Between the middle school and high school academic teams we are just on it and I’m so impressed,” board member Teresa Brown said. “Then the cheerleaders winning the national competition. Because all these big wins were on such short notice, we’re going to try and do something special for all of them at next month’s meeting.”

Superintendent Waylon Allen echoed those sentiments and praised Richie Rogers who coaches the academic teams at both the middle and high schools.

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“Coach Rogers is as good as any football or basketball coach we’ve got in the district and we need to make sure we’re recognizing him like we need to. That’s a big accomplishment and I’m very proud of those teams and I’m very proud of the cheerleaders, too,” he said.

More good news could be on the way soon as Middlesboro Elementary will be hosting their regional Governor’s Cup competition on March 23.

Jim Kennedy updated the board on various facilities upgrades including renovating the science labs at the high school.

“We are making progress. . . We’ll have finished specifications by the end of the week and will advertise next week for bids on the case work,” he said.

Those bids are expected to be awarded by the board in March. Kennedy also said he is getting quotes on disconnecting and reconnecting the electric, HVAC and plumbing to the islands in those labs as well as asbestos tile removal and new flooring.

“There’s a lot that goes into those two rooms,” he said. “They should ship the case work in July and everything should be ready in early August. If not by the start of school, then a week or two into the school year.”

Kennedy has also been working with the architect on a project to canopy the walkways from the high school and middle school to the Central Arts building and one to restore the tennis courts at the high school. He said the Legislature will finalize the state budget by the end of March and the budget approved by the House includes a hefty increase in equalization funds.

“There’s been no indication that the Senate wants to reduce that. If it stays the same, we’ll have the bonding capacity to do those two projects,” Kennedy said.

The board also approved the 2024-25 school calendar at Tuesday’s meeting. Two options for the calendar had been presented to staff and the board went with the one that had 90-percent of their support.

Next year’s calendar is very similar to the current one. The first day of school will be Wednesday, August 7; Fall Break will be October 7-11; Thanksgiving Break will be November 25-29; Christmas Break will be December 23-January 3; Spring Break will be April 7-11, and the projected last day for students will be May 16.

DPP Dr. Jamie Johnson shared the attendance and enrollment report showing the district added 18 students from last month. Middlesboro currently has 1174 total students compared to 1093 last May.

Average daily attendance in the district is up one percent from last year and currently sits at 89%.

Michelle Schneider gave the board an update on the December 1 count of special education percentages. She also shared that the new playground will be installed at the elementary school during spring break. The new playground is inclusive to accommodate all of the children, including those with special needs.

“You’ll be able to roll a wheelchair out onto the surface, it won’t be mulch it will be a hard rubber type of surface,” Allen said.

Schneider added that the new playground will have a merry-go-round that is level with the ground to make it easier to get on and off and other features that make it easier for special needs students to use. It was stressed that the new playground will be for all students at the elementary to use.

Allen said he was looking into possibly leasing a small modular unit to use for office space at the elementary school to free up classroom space inside. He asked and received the board’s permission to lease the building if it is deemed necessary and said it would cost $800 to $1000 per month on a 12-month lease.

In other business, the board:

  • approved the BG-5 for the re-roofing project at the middle school and central office. This closes out that project.
  • approved the BG-5 for district-wide replumbing, the gym floor and safety upgrades. This closes out that project.
  • tabled a vote on the audit report until next month’s meeting.
  • approved FRYSC Assurance Certification for 2024-2026.
  • declared the old playground equipment at the elementary school as surplus property.

The next Middlesboro School Board meeting will be held on Tuesday, March 19 at 5 p.m.