The Whitley County Board of Education is apparently pretty pleased with the job that Superintendent John Siler has done since he was first hired as superintendent in 2018.
During its monthly meeting Thursday, the board voted to give Siler a new four-year contract starting on July 1, 2022, and running through June 30, 2026.
The contract was approved after the board met in executive session for about 30 minutes.
“I appreciate the board. This is my home. This is where I plan to be,” Siler noted. “I am very humbled and thankful for this opportunity to continue leading this district as superintendent.”
During Thursday’s meeting, the board also approved an agreement with the Ross Tarrant architecture firm to design the new career and technical education building, which will be built on the high school campus.
Whitley County has had a working relationship with the firm that has spanned about 25 years with Ross Tarrant having designed all the major buildings and renovations throughout the district during much of that time span.
Siler noted that he would like to see the district continue with that relationship because he knows if there is a problem, the company is only a phone call or e-mail away.
In other business, the board:
• Discussed the 2021-2022 calendar committee. Director of Pupil Personnel Patrick Bowlin noted that the district hasn’t received any guidance from Frankfort on projected start dates.
Siler added that he has heard rumors that state education officials may ask school districts to have a short summer in order to cut down on what educators refer to as the “summer slide” where students forget about information they learned in school over the summer vacation.
Siler said that its possible Frankfort may ask school districts to return to classes in early August rather than mid-August.
• Presented the monthly Above and Beyond Award to Whitley North Elementary School Secretary April French.
• Discussed the 2021-2022 draft budget, which will include the state mandated 2 percent contingency fund. The budget also features money for new math text books for the middle school, and matching funds for state Kentucky Education Technology System (KETS) funding.
Among other things, KETS funds have been used in recent years to purchase Chromebooks, which have been provided to every student in the district in grades 1-12, and to maintain and improve the school district’s technology.
The draft budget doesn’t currently include any employee pay raises for the 2021-2022 fiscal year. Siler noted that school districts are still dealing with several unknown variables until the Kentucky General Assembly finishes its legislative session.
• Recognized school board members as part of school board appreciation month, and presented them with robes featuring a customized school district logo. Siler noted that school board members spend a lot of time supporting students and going to conferences only to turn around and donate their pay to a scholarship fund for graduating seniors.
• Re-elected Brenda Hill as board chairperson and J.E. Jones as vice chairperson for 2021.
• Set the 2021 board meeting schedule for the second Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Whitley County central office building at 300 Main Street, Williamsburg.