August 5, 2008

Monticello Students Go Back to Class August 11

By Melodie Phelps, The Wayne County Outlook, Monticello, Ky.

Aug. 5--MONTICELLO -- There are only a few days of summer vacation left for Monticello

Independent School students, as they head back to class on Monday, August

11. The final days of vacation have been filled with orientation sessions

for students, as well as opening day activities and professional development

for teachers.

"We had an exceptional year last year and we are expecting to have

another exceptional year this year," said Monticello Superinten-dent Donnie

Robison, as he talked recently about the 2008-2009 school year.

Like many superintendents across Kentucky, Robison knows that it could

be a challenging year, as districts everywhere continue to provide the same

level of service for less money. School districts are feeling the pinch of

a mandated one percent raise for teachers that was not funded by the state

legislature. Add to that the increased costs of running a district, like

soaring fuel and utility costs, and it means that everyone has to be

creative in these times.

Robison noted that Monticello School is in sound financial shape, and he

pledged that he and the school board will be looking at changes that can be

made to help cut expenses to help keep them in good financial shape.

"We are looking at ways to bring in more revenue without having to raise

taxes. The people in this community are having as hard a time with their

budget as we are, and we don't want to put any more burden on them," stated


Robison said he never thought he would see a time when there were no

increases in SEEK funds to school districts for two years in a row. And

nobody is sure where the price of diesel fuel will go this year, after

taking major jumps over the past school year.

Like other districts, Monticello has cut some positions this year,

including an administrative position, three certified positions and two

classified positions. Assistant Principal Gary Abbott retired after the last

school year, and the district did not replace him.

The district also lost an elementary teacher, a middle school social

studies teacher, and a high school special education teacher. Two aides

positions were eliminated also.

Monticello School continues its commitment to early childhood education,

providing full-day preschool and full-day kindergarten classes for its

youngest students. Much of that is provided without state funding, and the

local district shoulders the cost. Robison said that the district feels

these are important services to offer children.

"I am very pleased with our preschool teachers. They did an excellent

job last year," said Robison.

He noted that the full-day service is available for preschool students,

but parents can opt to send their children to class only half a day, as long

as they provide transportation.

There have been a few minor cosmetic changes made to Monticello School

over summer break. Three classrooms next to the gym have been remodeled.

They now have new lighting and dropped ceilings. One will be used as an

office for the counselor. One will be used as an art room and the other

will be used as a high school special education classroom.

New carpet was placed in the Media Center over the summer, Robison


Otherwise, everything is in good shape. The district moved into its new

building last year, and things worked well there, according to Robison. "It

was an excellent year last year...The building worked well for us."

Robison said that everything is set for work to begin on the first day

of classes. He noted that school begins on Monday this year, and many feel

that this is the best way to begin the yearâ´with a full week of classes.

"I think we get a better start on a Monday," he explained. "We start on

Monday and we have a full week...Monday will be a full day for us, and we

are having class that first day."

The school day begins at 8 a.m. and concludes at 3 p.m., which is the

same as last year. This year's calendar is also similar to the past few

years, and includes a fall break in October, a break for Christmas, and

Spring Break. The last for students is set for May 21, according to the


Robison expects enrollment this year to be about the same as last year.

He said right now enrollment is up over where the district ended last year,

but it really takes until after Labor Day before officials get a real idea

about the numbers.


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