School Board honors MHS, MMS academic teams

Published 4:53 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

By Jay Compton


The Middlesboro Board of Education recognized the high school and middle school academic teams at Tuesday’s meeting. Both teams won district and regional Governor’s Cup titles this year with the middle school team going on to place 10th at their state competition.

“I’m sitting up here proud tonight just looking at the rows of trophies. I think it’s wonderful and I’m proud of this bunch from the middle school and the high school. All of the coaches and all of the kids, it’s been a team effort and they’ve all done a good job,” Superintendent Waylon Allen said.

Middlesboro Middle School had an undefeated regional regular season, they were the Bell County Academic League champions, District champions, Regional champions, placed 5th in the state in Quick Recall and 10th overall at the State Governor’s Cup competition.

Middlesboro High School also had an undefeated regular season, they were the South East Kentucky Academic League champions, District champions and Regional champions.

“I just want to say how proud we are of all of you,” Board Chair Teresa Brown said. “You all have done so great this year.”

This was coach Richie Rogers’ first year back as the academic team coach at MHS. He said this year was about setting goals for the team to achieve.

“You need to be able to focus on what you want to accomplish in order to accomplish great things,” he said.

Those goals included winning their district for the first time in several years

“We were a young team with only one senior and one junior. We set that as our goal and began working toward that when we started practicing in early September. I’m really proud of our students. They really bought in. They wanted to win, they wanted to work, they did everything that we as coaches asked them to do,” Rogers said.

After the young team completed an undefeated regular season and won the district, they were underdogs at the Regional Governor’s Cup against a lot of junior and senior dominated teams.

“We had a tough loss in the first round and fought our way through the losers bracket and beat South Laurel, who had beaten us earlier, and wound up winning the whole regional championship,” Rogers said. “We were at least a year early so I was very proud of them to win that one.”

At the state competition, the coach said he just expected the team to compete and win a game or two.

“That’s exactly what we did. We won a couple of Quick Recall matches, which is an achievement in an of itself. We finished 2-3 in that and got some valuable experience for the next few years down the road.”

This was Rogers’ second year coaching the Middle School team so they had higher expectations. They won their district last year and were region runner-up to eventual state champion South Laurel.

“We got put into a different region this year with all the schools from Bell, Harlan and Knox counties and won our first region championship since, I believe 2012,” he said. “We went to state up at the Galt House and they showed Louisville who Middlesboro was.”

The MMS Quick Recall team opened with a win over Meyzeek Magnet Middle School from Louisville and went 5-0 in pool play to advance to the “Smart 16.” In their first game there, they defeated West Jessamine and were tied at halftime against Louisville’s Noe Magnet Middle School in the final eight before getting edged out to finish fifth in the state. Noe went on to win the Quick Recall competition.

“It was a tremendous effort by our kids. The competitiveness and the fight they showed the entire time to make it that far, as a coach I couldn’t be more proud of their effort and determination,” Rogers said. “They represented Middlesboro and our little town very well.”

Rhilynn Rogers also placed in Arts & Humanities, Individual Quick Recall and General Knowledge and those points allowed the team to finish 10th overall in the state.

Coach Rogers added that his teams couldn’t have had the success they did this year with the support of the administrations at both schools.

“Mr Jones and Mr. Allen, anything I asked for they never told me no,” he said. “Extra competition materials, team uniforms, overnight travel, they figured out how to get it taken care of. This is not just one person, from the administration to the assistant coaches to the kids — all this is possible because everybody did their part, including the parents for allowing their kids to participate.”

“I appreciate you all,” Superintendent Waylon Allen said to the kids. “This is something for us to really be proud of. We’re as proud of this as we are of winning the district in football or basketball, I promise you that.”

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, the board set graduation at MHS for Saturday, May 18, at 6 p.m. at Fusion Brothers Gym.

They also approved the 2022-23 financial audit report as presented by Matt Shackleford.

“This is for the year ending on June 30, 2023 and as you can see this is a clean, unqualified opinion which is the best you can have,” Shackleford said.

He said the district also received a clean opinion of the internal controls and compliance for using state funds and a clean, unqualified opinion with no findings in the compliance check for the use of federal funds.

“There are no findings for the district and no comments as it relates to activity funds again this year,” Shackleford added. “You are always one of our better districts.”

Allen and Brown both thanked Finance Director Ava Wilder for a job well done.

The board also approved a stipend for the middle school boys soccer head coach and assistant coach. MMS Principal Bill Jones had addressed the board asking for the extra service pay for the coaches.

“I think they deserve a stipend just like the girls coaches get and I hope you all see it the same way,” Jones said. “(The kids) are really excited. We bought them uniforms before their first game and you should have seen them out there strutting their stuff.”

Jim Kennedy updated the board on construction projects in the district. “There’s not a lot of progress, but we’re getting close,” he said. “Over Spring Break we are scheduled to put the new primary playground in.”

Later in the meeting the board awarded the bid for the science casework for two labs at the high school to Atlas Companies in the amount of $209,300.00. It was the only bid received and in the bid they agreed to have the cabinets finished by October 1, though Kennedy said he believes they will have them finished in September.

“That bid is just for the cabinetry. We’ll also have to have a purchase order to have the asbestos tile removed, a purchase order for the new tile, and a purchase order  for plumbing and an electrician to undo what’s there and put in the new,” Kennedy said. “When we’re through this whole project is going to cost around $340,000.”

He said the other parts of the project fall under the threshold where they would have to be bidded on.

MHS Principal Jesse Allen spoke to the board about the possibility of purchasing a new lawnmower for the district’s maintenance department. He said they currently have a 9-year-old mower, a 2-year-old mower and a 3-year-old mower. The older mower is used as a back-up but has been having some electrical problems that are expensive to repair. Allen said he had spoken to Bluegrass about trading in the old mower for a new Stihl mower and the difference would be $13,990.

“These guys are doing a great job taking care of our lawns and this would give them a spare so that they have a good one to use all of the time,” he said.

Board member Bill Johnson praised the work that has been done on the lawns at all of the schools.

“You drive around and look at other places and ours stand out far above everybody else’s,” he said. “We take a lot of pride in our schools. Our sidewalks are clean, our brush is kept down and our buildings are painted.”

Superintendent Allen said he would check the budget situation to see if the new mower could be purchased.

The board also accepted the FY-2024 KETS offer of assistance in the amount of $10,463 for technology from the School Facilities Construction Commission, approved the memorandum of understanding for a Jobs of America’s Graduates (JAG) teacher for a $40,000 grant for the 2024-25 school year and approved CA-4 emergency certificates for substitute teachers for the 2024-25 school year.

They also discussed raising the daily food reimbursement allowance on expense vouchers. There is currently a $45 per day allowance for meals and the board discussed raising it to up to $75 per day. No action was taken on Tuesday but that suggestion will be on the agenda for the next regular board meeting on April 16.