By Drew Bergman
The Russell County School Board met with its largest audience in months as they recognized six students each from Russell Springs Elementary, Salem Elementary, and Jamestown Elementary or their work in the STEM Challenge contest organized by Marcy Ryan who teaches science at RSES and JES, and art and music at SES.
The STEM Challenge combines science, technology, engineering, and math. “For this challenge the students had to pretend that they were in the arctic and it had gotten dark on them and they were stuck,” Mrs. Ryan said. “So they had to build a fortress for the night.” The students were tasked with building the fortress with 60 mini marshmallows and 25 toothpicks.
From RSES: Destiny Copley, Carly Shearer, Aaden Kerns, Alexis Melson, Belinda Fuentes, Grayson Moran. From SES: Audra Eads, Colton Whitaker, Ferrah Polston, Kate Hoskins, Abigail Edwards, and Aicen Fox. From JES: Ben Bell, Lillian Davis, RJ Thompson, Bristol Chism, Stella Thorpe, Ayden Thomas.
Next, Miss Rhonda Kimbler, a language arts teacher at Russell County Middle School was recognized as the RCEA Certified Employee of the Month. “I don’t really have the words to say in regards to myself, but I would like to thank the KEA and RCEA for allowing us to do this and to recognize a teacher because it does mean a lot,” Miss Kimbler said. She took her time to thank the teachers that molded her, specifically Miss Irene Loy. “She saw something in me that I would never have seen if it had not been for her.”
After the board approved the consent agenda including the financial report on the school system they next discussed the geotechnical services required before construction can begin on the RCMS renovation, addition, and paving project.
State law requires a geological survey be taken of any grounds where a school structure (including parking lots) are to be placed. To perform the task the school board will contract L.E. Gregg Engineers out of Lexington whose bid of $28,240 was nearly $10,000 cheaper than the next closest bidder.
The survey is required to protect the integrity of any building and guard against preventable problems in the very foundations of a structure. “They will drill down and take core samples for the foundation of the building,” Superintendent Michael Ford said. “We’re not allowed to build unless we have the foundation evaluated in case there are any open voids or spots or anything like that.”
Engineers and geologists check for voids and potential sink holes as well as checking for the quality of the ground and its ability to support the structures and stresses required on school grounds, to prevent devastating problems to school structures before they are even built.
After the board approved the plan to move forward with the work, they voted to confirm a new contract for Superintendent Ford which will keep him in his post until the middle of 2025.
The superintendent will not be receiving a pay increase, only a modification to his insurance package.
“As I told Mrs. Whitaker, we’ve not given employees a raise for a few years and I hope we can very soon,” Ford said. There is a clause in his contract which would allow for a pay increase which is dependent upon teachers receiving one. “I love Russell County Schools and don’t want to go anywhere else,” Ford said. “I’m blessed to be here. To see the kids come up here this evening, to her our principals speak at the end, the good stuff that happens is in spite of me. We’ve got a fabulous board… and we’ve got fabulous community support, we’ve got wonderful parent/ guardian support.”