SBDM raises concerns about elementary class size, recommends more teachers

The Lyon County Board of Education met on Monday, Nov. 15. During the meeting, they heard public comments about elementary student-teacher ratios and how it is affecting student performance and causing faculty difficulties.

The Lyon County Board of Education received financial audit reports, heard elementary school recommendations, and conducted other business at its Nov. 15 meeting.

Duguid, Gentry & Associates, CPA, personnel presented its financial audit to the board. They expressed the audit is their responsibility, and it only expresses an opinion on the district’s financial statements.

The Lyon County School District’s net position is $3.1 million. The audit noted the district’s total assets, $20 million, and its total liabilities, $18 million.

Rebecca Pagan represents parents on the elementary school-based decision making council. She told the board she has two children attending the elementary school and is a local business owner.

She raised concerns about the lack of fourth grade teachers, noting the faculty is currently overwhelmed with students and workload as a result. Pagan said the school’s fourth grade class is currently over its class cap size.

“I recognize this board of education has consistently approved an additional two-and-a-half teachers when they didn’t have to, and as a parent, I’m truly grateful for that,” she said.

During a Nov. 3 SBDM meeting, the council conducted a two-hour conversation to find solutions for understaffing. They concluded the fourth grade class has a 29 student-teacher ratio. The normal student-teacher ratio is 20 to 24 students per teacher, Pagan explained.

Pagan expressed interest in seeking COVID-19-related funds and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to possibly secure a full-time elementary teacher.

“We are charged with being good stewards of the taxpayer dollar, we desire as a community to keep a low tax rate, and so our tax rate is one of the lowest in the state of Kentucky,” said Superintendent Russ Tilford. “We feel like we get the short end of the stick when it comes to state funding.”

Tilford said 70% of the district’s funding is locally sourced, coming from residents and county and state allocations.

Tilford informed the board the elementary school staff payroll is currently $400,000 above state requirements.

No action was taken on the discussion.

Tina Grant, a literacy educator at Murray State University, informed the board she has taught several Lyon County Elementary School teachers. She said is aware of the student-teacher ratio and how it impacts class instruction.

Her recommendation to the board was to hire a teacher’s assistant if they are unable to hire a full-time staff member.

During Tilford’s superintendent report, he informed the board he and Pinnacle Inc., estimate the completion date of the high school addition and renovation is Jan. 3.

He expressed disappointment in the progress, saying delays may create schedule conflicts and inhibit school and community events at the high school. Tilford and the board showed concerns about construction possibly continuing into the 2022-23 school year.

He reported the project is more than 70 days behind schedule and remains over budget. Despite construction woes, Tilford and the board said they are pleased with the completed work.

In other business, 50 Medformance Nano Strike Air Disinfection units for the elementary school were approved by the board. The board is using ESSER funds to buy the units at $2,156 each.

Tilford said the product purifies the air, making the classroom setting and school environment healthier and cleaner. The devices carry a three-year warranty.