It was a historic evening on Tuesday, April 16, when the Wayne County Board of Education unanimously voted to accept an amended version of the merger agreement with Monticello School.
“The Wayne County Board of Education made a historic decision for our local community when they voted to accept the request to merge from the Monticello Independent Board of Education,” stated Wayne County School Superintendent John Dalton. “Effective July 1, 2013, the students of Wayne County will become one student body.”
A detailed version of the final draft of the agreement was signed by Wayne County Board chairperson Patty Roberts at the conclusion of the meeting. In the final draft of the merger agreement, Wayne County is released from liability of the $1.1 million debt incurred by Monticello School this year.
The motion made in regard to the merger agreement stipulated that each school district will be responsible for sending non-renewal letters to their non-tenured classified and certified staff, as well as letters notifying affected staff of their reduction in responsibility and salary levels and demotion letters for any affected administrators.
The board met in special session last Tuesday after taking 24 hours to review the merger proposal which was presented to them officially on Monday, April 15. Board members went into executive session during the Monday meeting to discuss the proposal with legal counsel and opted to wait until the following evening before taking any action.
As Dalton opened Tuesday’s meeting, he noted that the board had reviewed the document with lawyers and had taken time to consider the proposal.
Dalton then asked if anyone in the audience had any questions or comments before the board took action. There were no public comments.
Dalton then directed the group’s attention to the sounds coming from the hall near the entrance of Pickrell Auditorium at Wayne County High School, where an Activity Fair was in full swing. The event was geared to include Monticello High School students and their parents and was part of the parent-teacher conference night at the school.
Dalton noted that hundreds of students and parents had visited the Activity Fair to learn more about Wayne County High School and the opportunities that are available.
“The Wayne County Board of Education joins all Wayne County staff, students, parents and community in welcoming the newest Wayne County students, staff and parents. We are excited about this opportunity for our school and our community to continue to grow and serve young people, their families and our community,” said Dalton.
He continued, “The next weeks and months will be a flurry of activity as we provide opportunities for all–students to enroll, get course schedules, teacher placements, and the many other exciting events around our schools.”
The agreement sets up a grade configuration which was explained in-depth during Monday evening’s regular board meeting. Walker Elementary will include preschool and kindergarten. First and second graders will be at Bell Elementary. Third, fourth and fifth graders will be at Monticello School. Sixth, seventh and eighth graders will be at Wayne County Middle School and Wayne County High School will have grades nine through 12.
Wayne County will absorb roughly 765 students into the county system due to the closure of Monticello School.
Based on Kentucky state statute, members of the Monticello Board of Education will merge with the Wayne County Board of Education on July 1 to form one entity. Monticello board members will continue to serve on the merged board until their terms expire.
Under contractual obligations, every effort will be made to assimilate all personnel into the merged district. Ultimate decisions regarding the number, placement and status of existing administrative personnel, teachers and all employees will be overseen by Dalton.
Current employees from both districts will be issued contracts by the merged district no later than April 30.
In the event of subsequent vacancies the merged school districts will refer to the right of recall for both districts’ non-renewed personnel.
According to Sheriff Charles Boston, Agent Warren King of the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force conducted a lengthy investigation into the illegal sell of narcotics on Arthur Road in Wayne County.
During the course of the investigation, Agent King discovered Irene Dishman, owner/operator of Backwoods Grocery, had been receiving EBT cards as payments for illegal drugs, gas, cigarettes and other merchandise which are not approved for sell/purchase under the USDA Food Stamp Program.
Agent King enlisted the help of the Office of Inspector General (OIG), Audits and Investigation Division in Frankfort.
A joint investigation was conducted which led to Irene Dishman, Sunshine Dishman, Stevie Dishman, Brenda Bewley and Michael Murphy being indicted by a Wayne County Grand Jury for fraudulent use of an EBT card for benefits and trafficking in a controlled substance.
The investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected as the investigation continues. The task force was assisted by the Office of Inspector General, Audits and Investigations and the United States Department of Agriculture.
Hope White was formally sentenced to 25 years in prison during a hearing held in Wayne Circuit Court on Tuesday, April 16. White was found guilty of murder by a local jury during a second trial that was held in Wayne County last month.
Circuit Judge Vernon Miniard, Jr. formally sentenced White last week and followed the recommendation of the jury. The murder charge stems from the July 2008 stabbing death of Julie Hicks Burchett.
White was originally convicted of murder in Wayne County in July 2010, when the jury recommended a 30-year sentence. In December 2011, the Kentucky Supreme Court overturned the conviction and granted White a new trial.
Defense attorneys for White presented a motion for a new trial during last Tuesday’s hearing, and it was denied by Miniard.