Harlan County School Board updated on School to Work program

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, March 6, 2024

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The Harlan County Schools Board of Education held their February meeting recently, hearing issues impacting the district including the district’s School to Work Transition program, the search for a school psychologist and dual credit college courses.

Board Chairman Gary Farmer called the meeting to order and asked Superintendent Brent Roark for his report to the board.

Roark called Special Education Teacher Jennifer Brock to speak to the board concerning the School to Work Transition Program.

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“I stood before you just a little over a year ago requesting to accept additional ESSER funds for the post school predictor implementation project,” Brock said. “This project awarded us $300,000 to be used for transition programs throughout the Harlan County Public Schools.”

According to Brock, the funding made it possible to fund an Employment Specialist position at Harlan County High School, increase community-based instruction making it possible for students to participate and practice skills learned in the classroom at businesses including retail stores, restaurants, libraries, and post offices.

“We’ve purchased curriculum that focuses on transition for both Harlan County High School and our middle schools,” Brock said. “We’ve purchased supplies and materials that support those transition programs throughout the district. We’ve created updated middle school transition units at Wallins, JACES, and Evarts.”

Brock said the program additionally purchased a laser cutter for use by the high school computer science classes, equipment for engineering classes, and more.

“Our transition team is constantly brainstorming new ideas, thinking of things we can fund that will last for years to come,” Brock said. “We are currently looking at a driving simulator that we may be able to implement at the high school. We still have remaining funding, and I just found out today that is extended until Sept. 30. We thought it was going to end in June, but we still have a little more time.”

Brock asked the board to share any ideas they may come up with on how to use the remaining funding.

Roark advised the board the Employment Specialist position is grant funded.

“The position is grant funded, it is not in our staffing plan,” Roark said. “If the board wants to continue these services next year, it has to be placed in a staffing plan.”

Roark also provided updates on multiple items throughout the district.

“Progress at the field house is excellent,” Roark said. “They’re 20 to 30 days ahead of time right now.”

Roark said the exterior walls were nearing completion before moving on to other matters.

“$55,893, that’s what this board paid this semester for our kids to get dual credit classes,” Roark told the board. “That’s not done in other districts. A lot of other districts put that burden on the parents. This board agreed to pay that years ago, and you guys have continued to do that. That’s $55,893 that our parents didn’t have to pay to get their kids dual credit college classes.”

Roark advised the board concerning the search for a school psychologist.

“We’ve had a vacancy…in the psychologist position since September,” Roark said. “We’ve posted it three times, we don’t have any applicants for it…if it’s alright with you (the board), I’m going to contract with a lady that lives in western Kentucky to provide psychologist services.”

Roark explained the psychologist services would be handled remotely.

“We’re going to try it for three months and see if it works,” Roark said.

The board expressed no objections.