Daviess County Public Schools

J. Tyler Franklin

Masking requirements are staying in place for many Kentucky school districts, despite the General Assembly revoking a statewide mask mandate for school systems during a special legislative session last week.

Warren County Public Schools implemented a mask policy on Aug. 11 before Gov. Andy Beshear’s executive order or the Kentucky Department of Education’s emergency regulation. The decision was legal under the school district’s authority, and is not affected by the General Assembly’s passage of SB 1, which returned the authrority to make masking decisions to local school boards.

In a special meeting Tuesday night, the Warren County Board of Education approved a recommendation from Superintendent Rob Clayton to extend the school system's univeral mask requirement through at least October.

“This will allow us the opportunity to monitor exposures related to fall break activities as our historical data reflects the increase in exposures and quarantines after extended breaks from school," Clayton said.


Warren County Public Schools

Warren County Public Schools is facing the challenge of an increasing number of students in COVID quarantine, along with a shortage of bus drivers.

Less than three weeks into the school year, Warren County Schools Superintendent Rob Clayton said the district is maintaining in-person classes with flexible staffing, while keeping the required watch on COVID-19 numbers.

“The latest data that we have is 324 positive students, 38 positive staff, and approximately 1,800 students are quarantined. Around 10 percent of our student population is quarantined,” said Clayton.

He said about a handful of staff are also in quarantine.


Facebook/Daviess County Public Schools

As Kentucky students prepare to return to in-person classes after the past year’s turbulence caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, a western Kentucky school district is hosting a mental health summit for educators on Aug. 3.

Daviess County Public Schools started planning for the summit in March 2020, just before the pandemic changed everyone’s plans.

Now, with the added stress caused by the pandemic, 500 educators from across Kentucky will attend the “Rise Up for Resilience” mental health summit at the Owensboro Convention Center. 

Daviess County Public Schools

A custodian for Daviess County Public Schools is the winner of the 2021 Fred Award, given in recognition of exceptional service to students and staff.

Daniel Lyne, who is known as 'Mr. Daniel,' is a custodian at Daviess County Middle School and previously worked at East View Elementary School.

The award from the Kentucky Association of School Administrators was presented Friday in Louisiville. School employees are nominated for the award by their coworkers.

Lyne's service dog, Keeta, is considered part of the school community by staff and students. 

The Fred Award is named for mailman Fred Shea, who helped people on his mail route in many ways. He became a symbol for ordinary people doing good in their daily lives after a book about him called The Fred Factor was published in 2004.

Facebook/Daviess County Public Schools

After a tumultuous year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky school districts are preparing for a more traditional in-person setting as the new academic year approaches.  

One district in western Kentucky that has 70 open slots is hoping a Saturday job fair will help fill some of those positions. 

Daviess County Schools Human Resources Manager Courtney Payne said the number of open positions is not unusual because this is always a busy time of year for hiring. 

“There may be a few more positions than a typical year, nothing drastic. But we’re seeing a significantly lower number of applicants.," said Payne. "So that has been the biggest struggle that we have faced with Daviess County Public Schools, is the number of applications coming in.”


Owensboro Public Schools

As schools across Kentucky plan to welcome students back for in-person learning during the new academic year, many districts are scrambling to hire teachers and other staff.

One western Kentucky district has the added challenge of hiring for new positions created to address the impacts of COVID-19.

The human resources staff at Owensboro Public Schools is in high gear as they try to fill 20 vacant teacher positions, and 15 for instructional assistants as the Aug. 11 opening day rapidly approaches.

School district spokesperson Jared Revlett said hiring is in-progress for a variety of jobs across the district.


Owensboro Public Schools FB

The Owensboro and Daviess County school boards will meet Thursday afternoon to consider the districts' plans to return to a five-day schedule of in-person classes.

Both school systems plan to welcome students back full-time on March 22. 

In a joint news conference on Wednesday, the districts said a decrease in COVID-19 cases and an increasing supply of the vaccine make reopening possible. 

Daviess County Superintendent Matt Robbins said it’s important for teachers and staff to see students in-person for the remaining nine weeks of the school year.

“We know they need us, and frankly, we need them, Robbins said. "There’s a lot of needs of our children from academic to mental health, social, emotional, anxiety issues. We need to see them so we can begin to diagnose those needs.”

Henderson County Schools

The isolation and uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is stressful for adults, but it can be even more upsetting for young people.

The Henderson County school system is offering counseling for students, and workshops for adults to help them get through the pandemic.  

In addition to school guidance counselors, Henderson County Schools have seven mental health counselors. Four of the seven are funded by a federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMSA.  

The funding is for Project AWARE, which is to increase knowledge about mental health-related issues in the community.  


Ileana Gaynor

Schools across Kentucky are shut down for the remainder of the academic year because of COVID-19, and most students are adapting to virtual learning.

But students who were already struggling, or have English as a second or third language, are at-risk for falling behind. 

Educators in Owensboro Public Schools, like teachers across the nation, are increasing communication to keep at-risk students engaged.

Estes Elementary in Owensboro, which has students in preschool through 5th grade, has about 100 "English Learners." Those students are dealing with the combined challenges of language and the loss of in-person instruction in the classroom.


Owensboro Public Schools

Educators from Owensboro and Daviess County public schools are spearheading a new statewide organization to expand classroom instruction for English language learners. 

The new group is called the Kentucky Coalition for English Learners. The first conference was held June 10 and 11 at the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville and  drew 250 educators. 

One of the organizers of the coalition is Matthew Constant, chief academic officer for Owensboro Public Schools. 

"The majority of people, and this was our target audience, were general education teachers," said Constant. "We have specialized English learner teachers that are trained in college to deliver specialized instruction, but many of our English learner students are in regular classrooms the majority of the day.”


Daviess County Sheriff's Department

Police in Owensboro are investigating a burglary that occurred at a local school. 

Apollo High School canceled classes on Thursday to allow a thorough search of the building and to investigate the scene. 

According to the Daviess County Sheriff’s Office, the vice principal went to open the school just after 6:00 a.m. when he saw someone run from the building dressed in all black and wearing a mask.  As of late Thursday afternoon, law enforcement was still searching for the suspect.

Daviess County Public Schools

The chairman of the Daviess County Public Schools Board of Education, who began working in Kentucky schools more than 50 years ago, has resigned.

Mike Clark began his education career in Michigan. He started teaching in Kentucky in 1963 as a chemistry teacher at Apollo High School in Daviess County. He’s also been principal at Burns Middle School and Daviess County Middle School.

Clark retired from Daviess County Public Schools in 2000 and went on to be a principal in the Owensboro Catholic schools system.

He’s been a member of the Daviess County Public Schools Board of Education since 2011, and been chairman for two years. He told the board his resignation is because he is moving out of District 1, which he was elected to represent.

Daviess County Animal Shelter

The Daviess County Animal Shelter has declared a “code red.”  That means the shelter is stepping up efforts to reduce the number of animals so it doesn’t have to euthanize healthy, adoptable pets.

There are currently 69 dogs, 83 cats and four rabbits.

Shelter Director Ashley Clark says there are several ways to avoid unnecessary euthanization.

“If we could have rescues and fosters and adopters to come in and help with the animals, it’s not going to one avenue that solves the problem. You know, we can’t adopt our way out of it, and we can’t foster our way out of it.”

The Daviess County Board of Education has approved a controversial nickel tax to fund school construction and renovation. 

The nickel tax is the equivalent of 5.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value.  By law, the school system can use the revenue only for facilities. 

Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins says the tax will pay to renovate Apollo High School and replace the 85-year-old Daviess County Middle School.

"Daviess County Middle School is categorized as a category five facility, which means it's in the worst condition of those in the state," Robbins told WKU Public Radio.  "Apollo is just the next rung on the ladder as a category four facility. The rest of our facilities are either in a three, two, or one category, which puts it into perspective."

Western Kentucky Botanical Garden

Forty young refugees in Owensboro will get jobs this summer thanks to a workforce training grant. The $45,000 grant is from the group Catholic Charities and is being administered through its Kentucky Office of Refugees.  

Karri Calhoun at Owensboro Community and Technical College is coordinator of the ‘Summer Refugee Youth Program.’ She says the project will begin with a newly-developed course called ‘The American Workplace.’            

“At the beginning of the summer, May 30 through June 2, we’re going to offer a course where we’re talking about employability skills, such as attitude, attendance, even small things such as clocking in and out, how to use public transportation and interviews.”

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