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Grades 9, 10, 11 will attend Thomas Nelson High School

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Seniors to be surveyed

By Erin L. McCoy

Eleventh-grade students in the Thomas Nelson High School district will attend the school alongside freshmen and juniors when it opens in August 2012, the Nelson County School Board voted Tuesday.

The board voted 3-2 for the measure, which includes a provision that upcoming seniors will be surveyed in the fall of this year, while they are still juniors, about which school they would rather attend. If about 100 seniors or more elect to attend Thomas Nelson, those seniors will be allowed to move to the new high school; if fewer express interest, all will likely remain at Nelson County High School for their senior year.

Council members Nicky Rapier and Frank Hall voted against the change.

“I think we should have went with the survey (for juniors and seniors) and saw what some of the students’ wishes were, and I think it would have worked out just fine,” Hall said after the meeting.

He said although time constraints in planning for the new school were pressing, some planning could be delayed long enough to survey students.

“I don’t see where two months would make much difference,” Hall said.

Board member Damon Jackey cited the opportunity for a wider variety of classes, a large student body and more athletic opportunities to go around for district students as reasons he voted for the measure.

He said the advice of a districting committee to change its original recommendation to send only freshmen and sophomores to the school also influenced his decision. When the committee first voted about a year and a half ago, it was projected only Phase I of the school would be complete by the time it opened in 2012.

Now, administrators believe the school will be nearly complete, save for the auditorium, which according to TNHS Principal Wes Bradley will not open until 2013. The committee reconvened recently and recommended the plan that passed Tuesday.

Board member Larry Pate, who represents District 3 of Nelson County, said he was pleased with the outcome of the vote. Much of the western part of Nelson County will be districted to the new school.

“I’m from Boston, and that Boston area — they missed out on opportunities,” Pate said, pointing out that because of its small size, Boston School doesn’t offer all the academic clubs other county schools do, nor does it have a school band. “This opens the door for those students in Boston and New Haven.”

The same holds true for sports, he said.

“All of them get a shot at playing sports now — twice as many scholarships,” Pate said.

At a public hearing June 20, more than a dozen community members spoke about the proposed transfer of juniors to the new school. Most spoke against the move.

In other news:

• The Kentucky Department of Education has approved the schematics to replace the roof on the elementary wing of New Haven School. The board approved the construction documents and the next step will be for KDE to authorize bidding on the project.

The replacement roof will be installed during the school year, though no timeline has been set on the project, Superintendent Anthony Orr said.

• Mary and Scott Gagne told the board they were concerned that a special needs student struck their daughter in May and repeatedly disrupted the instructional time of other students in the class. 

“No child should have to come to school each day with the fear of being injured,” Mary Gagne read from a prepared statement. “We would like a response within the month of how you are addressing the safety of the children in the district.”

“It is my firm belief that we are implementing the law for all the students involved,” Superintendent Anthony Orr said.

“Generally, when you have a situation like this, you always go back and say, do we have the elements of the IEP (individualized education plan) correct … and is it in the instructional that is appropriate for that child,” Orr said after the meeting.

• The board approved daily school schedules for the 2011-2012 school year. Day length ranges from six hours and 22 minutes to six hours and 38 minutes, and all add up to more than the 1,062 hours in school per year as required by law, according to Director of Pupil/Personnel Greg Hash.

• The board delayed approval of 504 plan procedure updates, requesting a revised copy of the procedures for its next work session. A student’s 504 plan provides accommodations for appropriate access to learning, and is usually for students with disabilities.

• The board approved the appointment of chairpersons to represent Nelson County Schools at school-based 504 and Admissions Release Committee (ARC) meetings. These committees meet to discuss strategies for the education of individual students with disabilities or special needs.

• The board accepted a $55,957 offer of assistance, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by the district, from the School Facilities Construction Commission for technology support. The district receives this assistance annually and generally uses the funding to replace old computers and equipment.

• Don Goodin, Nelsonville, encouraged the board not to increase property taxes this fall, pointing out that the board has voted for an increase each year for the last seven years. He added that he didn’t think guests’ comments should be limited to three minutes.

“The only group that comes here who has those restrictions are us taxpayers, who pay for all of this,” he said.