Several updates were given at the regular meeting of the Knox County Board of Education Tuesday about various construction projects in process at many of the district’s schools.

Jim Sparks, with Trane, who has come before the board many times during the course of these renovations, was also on hand Tuesday to provide updates on the progress of the HVAC work.

The bulk of that work, Sparks told board members, has been completed.

After thanking the board for the opportunity to work with the school system, Sparks explained they were still working through some schools’ “punch lists.”

“The punch list at Lynn Camp (Elementary) is done,” he said, adding that issues at G.R. Hampton and Jesse D. Lay elementary schools were “mostly cosmetic.”

Later in Tuesday’s meeting, board members unanimously agreed to pay two months of the contract, holding out approximately $400,000 until all the schools’ punch lists are complete.

Also on hand to discuss the construction progression was Scott Jackson, vice president with Clotfelter-Samokar of Lexington and architect on the project. He noted that work on the wastewater treatment facility at Dewitt Elementary was complete, and that about 60-65 percent of the roof for Flat Lick Elementary was done. The cafeteria at Hampton remains incomplete, but is getting closer — the kitchen equipment will be put back in the kitchen area very soon, according to Jackson.

No decisions were necessary on the updates themselves.

In board business:

— A contract between the school district and Premier Integrity Solutions was unanimously approved Tuesday. The contract allows for students involved in any extracurricular activities to be on a consent list for random drug testing. It was learned that when the group comes in to perform the testing, they require a minimum of 50 students to test — but there was nothing in board policy governing how many times or when the students could be tested.

Board member Dexter Smith questioned why this contract was not bid out, and felt if there was a chance to save money, they should.

Board vice-chair Sam Watts motioned to go ahead with the contract this year, and then for next year check into possibly bidding out the testing. Dexter Smith seconded the motion.

— Two roofing contractor pay applications were turned down Tuesday — one concerning the roof replacement at Dewitt Elementary, the other concerning roof replacement at Flat Lick Elementary.

Board member Charles Merida explained that difficulty getting in touch with some of the key players in the roof replacements was the biggest reason for the delay for payment.

The Dewitt pay application was denied in the first vote related to this. Merida motioned not to make the payment, with a second from Dexter Smith.

Merida also motioned not to make the payment for the Flat Lick contractor.

“I must caution you,” Jackson warned. “(These are) two separate contracts.”

Board attorney Ashlee Valentine recommended the board hold the payment until the next board meeting.

Jackson added that it was his understanding that if the board voted not to pay, “they can stop the work out there.”

Dexter Smith seconded Merida’s motion. The board was unanimous with both these decisions.

— A working 2014 budget was unanimously approved by board members Tuesday. Finance Officer Gertrude Smith told board members that approval of the working budget was required on a local level before it was turned into the Kentucky Department of Education for final approval.

She said that all the school system’s dollars totaled $51.3 million, with a 3.3 percent contingency fund. Dexter Smith motioned to approve the working budget, with a second from Watts.

— Ten new school buses will soon be added to Knox County’s fleet.

A partnership between the Kentucky School Board Association (KSBA) and the Kentucky Interlocal School Transportation Association (KISTA) helps school districts finance smaller-scale projects, such as installing energy-efficient windows, doors, roofs and lighting, along with HVAC and kitchen upgrades.

According to KSBA’s website, KISTA is the association formed more than two decades ago to help districts finance the cost of new school buses.

Dexter Smith motioned to approve the participation resolution to finance the buses, with a second from Board Chair Merrill Smith.

The board was unanimous with this decision.

— A “one-time perspective” fringe benefit bonus for Knox County School System employees was approved Tuesday. The one-time payment of $250 should be expected around Thanksgiving. Dexter Smith motioned to approve, with a second from Merida.

The board was unanimous with this decision.

By Times Tribune