Todd County School Board did not appoint an interim superintendent Monday at its special-called meeting; however board members got an earful from concerned teachers and parents who were disappointed with Ed Oyler’s abrupt resignation last Thursday.
Nearly 10 people spoke up during the comments segment of the meeting, asking specific questions about a letter Oyler read to the board when he resigned.
A copy of that letter was sent to the New Era, with Oyler stating in part, “Unfortunately, the direction and agenda the current board is choosing is not congruent with my core values and the vision I have for our students and educators. I can no longer be effective without violating what I believe to be right, ethical, honest, transparent and in the best interest of all faculty, staff and ultimately the students we serve.”
Todd County educator Jan Martin was the first to address the board, saying any decision made should be in the best interest of the students.
“If we’re not impacting the majority of our children, we’re not doing our job,” she said.
A lot of the comments swirled around the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center that opened last summer on the campus of Todd County Central High School.
The $2.5 million career and technical center is the culmination of several state grants and partnerships between the school district, Todd Fiscal Court and an attraction point for Novelis.
Martin noted that less than 1% of students are being impacted by the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center so far.
“We need to be giving as much attention to the other 99% of our kids,” she said. “I feel like we’ve spent the last many months back and forth about this building, but that’s less than 1% of our kids.”
Todd County parent and former assistant Tatrica Osborne took issue with AMTC CEO Eric Keeling being hired as a consultant back when he was still employed by Bowling Green Independent School District. According to New Era archives, Keeling previously served as principal for the Warren County Area Technology Center and assistant principal at Bowling Green High School.
Osborne said he was hired as a career and technical education consultant, making $65 an hour for a total of $24,000.
“What were the findings of his surveys and PowerPoints, other than suggesting to the board that he needed to be hired as a CEO in our school system,” she asked. “It seems as if the board insisted on creating a position for a CEO, as he called himself, for him to retire in October for the Todd County school system to incur his costs.”
Osborne asked if the board created the job to specifically for Keeling, who retired shortly after. No board member answered.
“My concern is what direction was the board going in that had Mr. Oyler want to resign,” she said. “As a parent, I have two kids in this school system and I taught here for five years, so I’m very supportive of the system, but I am concerned as to what direction the board is headed.”
A few more teacher brought up questions about the money that’s been poured into the AMTC building. Two teachers are hired at that building, making $62,000 and $65,000 each, according to the salary schedule.
“That’s more than a Rank 1 teacher with 25 years experience,” said Todd teacher Lee Ellen Bristow. “Other teachers are paid off the salary schedule based on their years of experience and level of degrees. Teachers at the Logan County ATC start out at about $45,000. So how are these costs justifiable to teachers, other programs and other people in our district?”
Todd County Central High school teacher Julie Gilliam said the six career and technical programs at the high school aren’t getting the same resources as the two CTE programs the AMTC building.
Gilliam explained that 43 students attend welding and industrial maintenance classes at AMTC; however, the schools CTR programs see 555 students per day.
“Career and technical education does not just include the two teachers across the lot,” Gilliam said.
She went on to note that the school district spends $416 per CTE student at the school while spending on average $6,500 per student at AMTC.
“If I had $6,500 per kid invested in my program, the possibilities are endless,” she said. “As a team we need to look at those inequities and come up with the best investments for our students.”
School board chair Eric Harris told the crowd their concerns were heard and moved on with the meeting.
In other business
• The school board voted to accept Oyler’s resignation. According to a social media post from Bullitt County Public Schools, Oyler was hired Friday as the director of buildings and grounds. He began his new position Monday.
• The school board voted to seek a professional consultant for the superintendent search. The board would like to hear presentations from the Kentucky School Board Association as well as the Kentucky Association of School Administrators.
• School board attorney Mac Johns explained that the board has 30 days from Monday to establish a superintendent search screening committee. By law, the committee must include two teachers, one board member, a principal, a parent, a classified employee and one minority, if not fulfilled by one of the other committee members.
Reach Zirconia Alleyne at 270-887-3243 or email@example.com.