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Meetings show needs at intermediate school

BY KATHLEEN FOX kfox@paducahsun.com

Community members continue to voice concerns about the district's current intermediate school on the heels of the planning committee's recommendation to create a new structure in Reidland.

Lone Oak Intermediate School, located in the former Lone Oak Middle School building on Cumberland Avenue, was one of the main topics during a public forum that preceded the Local Planning Committee (LPC) meeting Tuesday night and again at the board meeting Wednesday.

The planning group chose an option that will close Farley Elementary and consolidate fourth through eighth grades into the former Reidland High School with the caveat of two separate, distinct spaces. The middle school will be excluded for possible future district use if the current board office is sold.

The board took no action on the recommendation Wednesday because district officials didn't have time to draft a proposal. The board plans to hold a specially called meeting before the next school board meeting on Feb. 20 to debate the measure, according to Superintendent Nancy Waldrop.

Many residents asked the council to consider delaying the decision another year or to prolong the new school's opening until August 2015 to avoid facilities and curriculum issues seen in Lone Oak. A group of parents spoke at the board's meeting on Wednesday about the frenetic pace of the decision and issues with a procedure that created some confusion during the LPC meeting. The selected plan in Reidland would somewhat mirror the Lone Oak structure, differing because Lone Oak Intermediate School houses fourth and fifth graders in a completely separate building.

Tiffany Watson, a parent on the Lone Oak school's site-based decision making council, asked the planning group Tuesday to stop spending the district's funds on unoccupied buildings and focus on the "endless situation of problems at Lone Oak Intermediate."

Kelly Smith, a Lone Oak Intermediate teacher, presented a list of school-related issues during Tuesday's meeting. It included inconsistent heating and gaps in walls around window units in classrooms, a lack of handicap accessibility on one side of the facility due to a broken lift, security questions raised from the absence of a second door in the main building, concerns about mold and asbestos, and a lack of proper playground equipment.

Todd Jackson presented a report to the board Wednesday of his findings after spending Wednesday at the intermediate school. He said both primary lifts were working and a third smaller lift was repaired. Multiple cracks around window units were filled in and sealed and trim was added to space around other units.

When addressing heating issues, he said a part was ordered for one of the school's boilers the Friday prior to cancellation of school on Jan. 6 due to weather. The system was fixed Jan. 7 but took time to begin working at full capacity again. Several individual blowers also went out, which resulted in students being moved from four exterior classrooms that same day.

District crews replaced 21 of the classroom window units with smaller, quieter models over the summer but because they didn't fit the existing space, gaps were left, according to Jackson.

Principal Victor Zimmerman said student safety is the top priority and the school has 28 cameras inside and outside the main building doors connected to the office as well as the principal, school resource officer and district law enforcement offices. He said many older buildings use a system of buzzers and cameras with success with only newer structures equipped with a double door or an interconnected office system.

School officials said the decision to provide places to play organized team sports including the soccer field, basketball goals and track was based on the results from community surveys. The district did order a swing set to install next to the soccer field. The school received the set early in November but hasn't been unable to install it due to cold temperatures and wet ground, Zimmerman said.

The school does have non-friable asbestos, which is contained, harmful only if ingested and needs to be addressed only in the case of large-scale renovations. The school has the lift inspection certificates and the asbestos management reports on file in the office, he said.

Contact Kathleen Fox, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8651 or follow @kathleendfox on Twitter.

Other meeting news

n Craig Carter. KEA UniServ director based in Paducah, spoke to the board about bullying of teachers and reported he had received many complaints in the last three years and some within 24 hours about McCracken. He told the board to remember the importance of open, honest communication among teachers, administration and board staff during the superintendent interview process.

n The McCracken County Schools draft budget was approved, which is the first budget before a tentative one is created in May and a working budget is made in September.

n The meeting dates from February 2014 to January 2015 were approved. The board typically meets on the third Thursday of the month. The next meeting is set for Feb. 20.

n The board approved a matching offer of assistance of $91,417 from the Schools Facilities Construction Commission.

n The board approved the change from ADS Security to Premier Fire as the fire and burglar monitoring system districtwide. The change will decrease the yearly payment for both services from $20,420 to $585 for the same service. But the alteration will cost a one-time fee of $10,450 for equipment installation, according to facilities director Todd Jackson.

n Jeff Parker was appointed chairman and Don Heine vice chairman for 2014.

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