Farmington Early Eagle Academy to close GC Schools

Graves County Schools Board Chairperson Kelly Thurman (right) said the purpose of the Jan. 28 meeting is to address Lowes Elementary School, and work with community members to see if anything can be done. Superintendent Matthew Madding (left) said invitations to the meeting had been extended to the Local Planning Committee and a representative from the Kentucky Department of Education.

Graves County Schools Board of Education voted unanimously to close the Farmington site for the Early Eagle Academy as attempts to save it fall short.

Superintendent Matthew Madding said that the program has continually “struggled” to make money and achieve more enrollment over the past few years despite the board adjusting tuition.

Board member Kenneth House made a motion to close the site, which was seconded by Vice Chairperson Ronnie Holmes.

“That’s a hard one,” House said. “We just have to accept it as it is.”

The Farmington site will close on Feb. 12. Madding said early eagle families affected by the closure could transfer to the Graves County Middle School site.

Public comments will no longer be a regular agenda item, Madding said during his report. While the board still wants the public attendance and participation, community members must now contact Madding or Board Chairperson Kelly Thurman three days in advance to have time allotted on the agenda.

“If someone wants to comment at a public meeting without doing that, they can still do that at our work session(s). But this meeting on Thursday nights, our regular board meeting, is when we need to be doing the business that is actually on the agenda. If it’s not something we’re talking about that night we feel like it would be best addressed at another time,” Thurman said.

Madding noted that this method allows the issue to be potentially resolved outside of the meeting, which would be helpful to all involved. He also stated that board members are still accessible by phone and email.

The board changed the location of their next meeting on Jan. 28, which was originally planned for the Performing Arts Center. It will now be in the Graves County High School Library.

Madding said invitations for the meeting were extended to the Local Planning Committee, an official from KDE, and several other community members. As of Thursday, Madding had no confirmation on whether the KDE official would be able to attend.

Thurman said the board is still wanting to work with the Lowes community for a possible solution outside of closing the elementary school there.

“We’re interested in working with the group and hearing their discussion, as well as talking to KDE and finding out if there’s something we can do, because all of us believe in the community schools,” Thurman said. “So we’re willing to listen to try to accomplish that.”

The board unanimously altered the superintendent’s contract with Madding, removing the cell phone and vehicle, which were provided by the district. Madding said he voluntarily relinquished the them as a cost cutting measure.

After the board approved the modification to his contract, they unanimously renewed it for another four years.

The board will not be renewing a WK&T lease agreement that allowed teams to utilize the Cougar Center if the high school’s gym was unavailable. Madding suggested letting the agreement expire as they do not utilize it enough.

“After examining practice schedules and our documented use of the building, I don’t believe we use the facility enough to continue paying to lease it. WK&T has been a great partner during this lease, but at this time I do recommend not seeking an extension of this agreement,” Madding said to the board.

The agreement will automatically expire on Jan. 31.

Director of Pupil Personnel Christy Puckett presented the 2021-22 school calendar to the board. The first day is scheduled for August 5, 2021 followed by 172 instructional days for students. The last day of the school year is May 12, 2022. The schedule also includes the “customary breaks” in October, November, December and April.

The board unanimously approved the calendar.

The board also heard from Finance Director Jennifer Dillion who presented the draft budget for Fiscal Year 2021-22. The “tentative” version of the budget is due on May 25, and the working budget is due on Sept. 30. The board unanimously approved the draft.