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Price Resigns As Fleming County Superintendent

Cody Evans, The Ledger Independent

Fleming County Schools Superintendent Tom Price resigned Wednesday (May 14) during a board of education meeting.

Price waited until the end of the meeting to read his resignation letter to the board. In the letter, Price cited his health and lack of time with his children and grandchildren as the main reasons for his departure from the position.

"I feel this is the best decision right now, not only for myself, but for the children of Fleming County. I have lost time as a father and a grandfather and I believe that is what I need to be right now. I feel confident that someone will be brought in who can do the best for school system. I'm very appreciative of the opportunity to come back to Fleming County in the superintendent role and I feel badly that I can't fulfill the four-year commitment I made in 2012,” said Price.

Price said he will remain as superintendent until June 30.

Another surprise announcement at the meeting was a decision by the Kentucky Department of Education to allow Mark Leet to remain as principal of Fleming County High School.

KDE representative Jim Hamm said after reviewing information and hearing from the public, the officials believe it to be in the best interest of the school to give Leet one more year to continue to make progress.

"(Leet) has been here two years. We felt it would be appropriate to give him one more year,” said Hamm.

Leet thanked KDE and the community for the decision and support given to him over the last week.

"I want to thank all of you for your support, but my fight was never for my position. My fight was for Fleming County High School. I know what the data tells us and you know what the data tells us. We are above state average in several criteria and we will continue to be. Next year, I believe we will be a distinguished school,” said Leet.

KDE representatives began assisting the school district after the high school was labeled as a priority school in 2012. In 2013, the school district was placed under state assistance after failing to make progress at the high school on an academic level and with the district on a financial level.

In March, the KDE conducted a diagnostic review and found the school district to have made very little progress on either level, citing six deficiencies. In the review, the KDE had recommended Leet not remain as principal.

Leet, who disagreed with the assessment, had presented his own data of the high school that showed FCHS was a proficient school and ranked 66 out of 231 high schools, with the college and career readiness in the top 8 percent of schools.

Hamm said a new assessment will be completed at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Also during the meeting, a tentative budget for the 2014-2015 school year was approved by the board.

The budget totals $22.89 million, with $16.4 for the general fund, $3.1 million for the special revenue fund, $203,942 for the capital outlay fund, $1.5 million for the building fund, $1.5 million for the debt service fund, and $1.6 million for the food service fund.

Hinton Mills owner Adam Hinton provided to board members a letter of intent to provide the funds to keep the fourth agriculture teacher at the high school.

Hinton said through a foundation called "A Better Community" community partners are willing to give their money to keep the teacher. The funds collected will pay for the salary and benefits for the agriculture teacher in quarterly payments, beginning on July 1.

"Last week, we found out a position we are passionate about was being cut. When things happen, there are three choices to make. You can complain, do nothing or you can take action. We took action,” said Hinton.

The board accepted the letter of intent and told Hinton they would look into the next steps that need to be taken in order to accept the money.

Before the meeting concluded, Price said he had one other thing he wanted to tell the guests.

"There is one big misconception and I want everyone to know there is no truth to it. A lot of people believe the district was a victim of embezzlement or that people were getting rich off missing money. That is untrue. We had a lousy accounting system. I've never seen any indication anyone did anything illegal with the money. Had I ever seen that, I would have no problem viciously going after someone who takes money from our kids. That just didn't happen. Did we break some regulations with how we spent the money? Probably, but, the problem we had was very simple. We were way too overstaffed for hard times. You can't have too many people helping kids, I know that, but we had too much staff for the difficulties we were facing. I'm the first superintendent you can think of to cut personnel -- not a legacy I want, but it had to be done,” said Price.

Price said originally the general fund was 93 percent staff salaries. Now, that number is 80.6 percent.

"We were running our entire district on 7 percent. Now, we have more money to run the district. I'm very proud of the way the community has stepped up for the district. It will get better if we keep the unity we have right now,” added Price.

During the meeting, officials also announced that the official last day of school will be June 6.

The Ledger Independent is online at: http://www.maysville-online.com