If preliminary data remains unchanged, then Whitley County High School juniors, as a whole, have improved their ACT scores significantly between 2019 and 2020.
While the numbers aren’t official and could still change, preliminary data indicates that composite scores improved overall by 0.7.
“This is not possible unless there is coordinated effort,” WCHS Principal Julie Osborne told the Whitley County Board of Education during its virtual meeting Oct. 15.
All subject scores also increasedfrom the previous year. ACT scores increased 1.0 in English, 0.4 in math, 0.4 in reading, and 0.8 in science.
“We just look to keep improving and moving in the right direction,” added Deputy Superintendent Paul Rickett.
Kentucky officials announced Wednesday that the average composite ACT score for Kentucky seniors in both public and private high schools fell by three-tenths of a point, from 19.8 in the 2018-2019 school year to 19.5 in 2019-2020, according to the annual Graduating Class Report released by ACT.
Also, during Oct. 15 meeting, the board approved the 2019-2020 audit report, audited finance report and balance sheet.
Nancy Logan with the accounting firm Marr, Miller & Myers noted that the audit didn’t contain any management comments, which is a good thing.
School districts are required to maintain a contingency fund of at least 2 percent, and the district finished the 2019-2020 fiscal year with a 4 percent contingency fund while the budget for the current fiscal year includes a 3.79 percent contingency fund.
“The general fund balance at the beginning of the 2020-21 school year is the best it has been in 17 years,” Logan added.
Logan noted that the general fund ended the fiscal year on June 30 with an increase of $475,945. General fund revenue ended the year $700,688 higher than what was budgeted while expenditures were $3,727,469 less than what was budgeted.
“These favorable variances are the direct result of a lot of hard work by the board members, superintendent, as well as finance office staff,” Logan said.
Also, total debt for the district decreased $933,039 even though the district issued $890,000 in additional bonds, which were used to replace the heat and air system at the Whitley County Middle School. Payments on the latest debt will be covered completely by the School Facilities Construction Commission with no cost at all to the district.
“Again, we set budgets. We have our plan financially for the district. Our board has been able to stick with that. This is why we have seen this growth in our financial stability. I am very appreciative of everybody here tonight for their efforts. It was a team effort absolutely,” added Superintendent John Siler.
In addition, the board discussed the recent $356,388, Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant that the district received plus an additional $111,084 that the state legislature has allocated for Whitley County to go towards school safety.
Officials said that the district is looking to use the additional funds for upgrading some doors and locks at the middle and high school, plus improving some window and door coverings at all its schools that will allow students and staff inside the school to see out, but will make it hard to see inside from the outside. The coverings are planned for large glass areas at the schools, such as libraries, gyms and cafeterias.
“We are definitely going to be doing some security and safety upgrades,” Siler added.
In other business, the board:
- Announced that the October Above and Beyond Award was being presented to Patrick Bowlin, who is the director of pupil personnel, homebound supervisor and director of safe schools. “Patrick is very deserving of it,” Siler noted.
- Agreed to reroof a portion of the roof at Whitley County Middle School over the science wing. Siler said that the project is expected to run about $62,000 and isn’t just a tear off of the old roof but will involve some serious maintenance work to patch a portion of the roof and improve drainage. “We want to get this taken care of before it gets any worse,” he added.
- Gave preliminary approval for the purchase of five new school buses pending receipt of funding from the Volkswagen settlement fund, which was established to settle allegations of cheating on vehicle emission tests. If the district receives the Volkswagen funding, it will cover half of the cost towards the purchase of the five new school buses.