Expected fireworks of controversy fizzled before the Harlan County Board of Education at Thursday evening’s regular monthly meeting.
Recent restrictions to the budget and a reduced staffing plan for the 2012-13 school year brought a crowd of concerned staff and family members before the board.
Because the majority of the positions reduced for next year will include elementary counselors and library/media specialists, each group was allowed a spokesperson and three minutes to state their case before board members.
Terri Kelly, representing counselors, said budget cuts had already had “devastating effects” on the ability of school employees to meet their legal and regulatory requirements. Although funding “has been cut to the bone,” she noted the staff had continued to “perform at an admirable level.”
These new reductions would not allow that level of performance to continue, “Because we’ve been stretched about as far as we can go,” she said.
She feared the personal level of counseling currently provided to students would be sacrificed by the time demanded by other counseling duties.
Kim Williams, representing librarians and media specialists, asked if the board members know what criteria was used to determine next year’s staffing levels. Current research supports the staffing of media specialists in order to have students perform at a level that makes them college and career ready, she noted.
Developing students’ media skills, their familiarity with a variety of texts and sources of information, respect for copyright law, and daily progress in the Accelerated Reader program were all managed by library staff.
After hearing their concerns, the board took no action and quickly moved on to the routine items on their agenda. The entire meeting was over within 20 minutes. Board members Myra Mosley and Pam Sheffield were absent.