In a special session on Thursday, the Madison County Public School Board elected its 2022 board chair and vice chair, while also giving updates on several construction projects in the county and a reading recovery report.

Madison County School Board Vice Chair Brandon Rutherford was elected as the 2022 board chair, with Beth Brock filling in as the 2022 vice chair. The motions to elect Rutherford and Brock marked the final gavel for 2021 Board Chair Lori Cobb, who made a statement regarding her time in the position.

"This is actually my last meeting to gavel us in as chairperson of the board. I just want to tell you guys that it has been my privilege and honor to serve as your chair this past year. Thank you to my fellow board members and Dr. Gilliam. Particularly to Mrs. Jeanne Caldwell for helping this year to run as smoothly as it could. Thank you all for all of that," Cobb said. "We made a lot of decisions. It's been a challenging year, but we did what we thought was right and we did what was in the best interest of our students. That's about all I can ask. We accomplished quite a bit but there is still a whole lot left to do."

Chairperson Rutherford and Vice Chairperson Brock both said they are honored to take their new positions on the school board.

"It's always an honor to serve the board in leadership or as a regular member. We do it for the kids, and that's what we hope to continue to do -- make solid decisions that are the best for our students and our staff," said Brock.

Rutherford elaborated on the school board's working process.

"We try to do it as a cohesive team. That works out best for the kids. The best thing that we can give them is to be a cohesive team. We're always looking forward to the new school year," Rutherford said.

Superintendent David Gilliam read a proclamation honoring the board and presented gift certificates to the board members as January is School Board Recognition Month. A similar proclamation was presented by the Madison County Fiscal Court this week.

Rutherford's first act as board chair was to recap and confirm the minutes of the last school board meeting in Dec. 2021.

Dr. Amy Smith presented a report for the Reading Recovery program to the board. The program served 820 students in 2021, with 71% of those students accelerating their progress, topping their outcomes in 2020 by 1%. With that statistic, Madison County Public Schools were also significantly ahead of the U.S. as a whole - with the country sitting with 49% of students accelerating their progress on a national level.

An emotional Smith praised the teachers who run the Reading Recovery program, as the circumstances of 2021 made their job's much more strenuous.

"When they were given the call, our Reading Recovery teachers never blinked. They never complained. They showed such a sense of teamwork. They should make you proud. They made me really proud," Smith said.

Brock also praised the Reading Recovery programs work in 2021, saying that it is a life changing experience for some students.

"It's not secret that I'm one of the biggest fans of the Reading Recovery program. I'm not surprised. I'm not even remotely surprised. All of our teachers stepped up last year and that is incredible... The lasting impact that that is going to have on our students is mind-boggling. Reading is such a core thing that changes the trajectory of their entire life," Brock said.

The construction update was up next, with Gilliam presenting the report, as Tony Thomas is currently under quarantine. The Ignite Campuses are both on schedule - with Ignite North looking at construction largely completed in late March and Ignite South following it approximately a month later.

Renovations at Clark Moores Middle School are progressing as well, with the eighth grade wing of the building being completed. Updates and pictures were given on other construction projects (like the renovated Phillips Building at Madison Central), as construction crews have plowed through their work, even through the hazardous weather which has plagued the area the last few weeks.

Madison County Schools CFO then gave the monthly finance report. The school system's bank reconciliation currently sits at $98,444,365.77. While $5,740,990.65 is currently invested in construction projects in the county.

Several new employee positions were created in the county including: a para educator position at Silver Creek Elementary; teacher position at Madison Southern; music teacher position at Madison Southern; site manager position at Madison Southern; football coach position at Madison Southern; and an account clerk position at the county Central Office with an approved bookkeeper increment.

In his closing report, Superintendent Gilliam spoke about the education budgeting currently going through the Kentucky General Assembly.

"The 2022 legislative session of the Kentucky General Assembly is under way. I do serve on the KESS and KESA legislative committees. Yesterday, I was in Frankfort for a little while meeting with some legislators on pending legislation trying to advocate on behalf of our students, our community, and our school district... We have to realize that this is a long session, it's a budget session and we're a long way away from April. And a lot of things can be interesting as we go through this session," Gilliam said.

Other business:

•A revised BG-1 and schematic plan were both approved for renovations on the Phillips Building.

•Change Order for PO 49168 and Rising Sun GC were both approved, with an extra $35,000 going to the Clark Moores renovations.

•A contract giving construction on a steel building at Madison Southern to Powerbilt Steel was approved.

•FRYSC school district assurances were approved.

•A motion to purchase furniture for the Ignite South campus was approved.

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