Marsha Pryor, of Leitchfield and a member of a high school site base council committee looking into the state of the school's agriculture program, told board members about outdated textbooks, desks falling apart, the need for teachers working in their area of expertise, and the need for more permanent covers for greenhouses.
Pryor asked how the district could "spend $26,000 on blacktop, when some of the agriculture textbooks are 12 to 15 years old." She said students couldn't learn if their textbooks were that far behind the electronic age.
Board Chairman Carolyn Thomason said these concerns were not brought to the board from the site-based council. However, Pryor said after the meeting that the council sent a report to the board.
Pryor said she came to the board's May meeting to express her concerns, "but I was told I couldn't speak, that the public comment period was deleted from the agenda at the beginning of the meeting."
She said she was told by Superintendent Teddy White at the May meeting that her comments were illegal, but White denied that Thursday. Thomason said the comment period was removed from the agenda to save time for the board to attend high school awards night later in the evening.
But Pryor said she had contacted the State Department of Education on the legal question, "and they said most boards embrace public comments and said it was unheard of to turn one down."
Pryor said she had discussed the situation with several other people, "and they agreed with me that something's wrong in this school district when basic needs of students aren't being met.
"I don't know what it is," she said, "and I can only call it attitude. Is it for looks? Or personal agendas?" She told the board to "get on the outside and look in at what's happening and to get everybody involved in fixing problems."
Thomason said there was no desire on the board's part to cut public comment. "We are interested in public comments, and we apologize for having to cut the May meeting short, but we explained our reason at the meeting."
Later in the meeting, Instructional supervisor Sharyon Shartzer gave the board a textbook report in which she said purchase orders for new textbooks going in for the the coming school year. She said the high school has presented purchase orders for over $13,000 in Practical Living (which includes agriculture) textbooks and that $30,000 was spent last year. She said the rule of thumb is to update textbooks every six years.
Also part of Shartzer's presentation was updates on the district's comprehensive school improvement plan. She said there is a new emphasis on reading instruction.
She said reading is getting more emphasis across all subjects, and literacy, including vocabulary and the unique skills demanded of various subjects.
"Reading skills needed to read fiction," she explained, "aren't the same skills students need to read and understand a math problem."
In the business portion of the Thursday meeting, the board: