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In Ludlow, Gym Project Will Be Completed Soon; Boys Basketball Coach Re-Hired

Ludlow Independent Schools Superintendent Michael Borchers announced that the new addition to the front of the gym, which will house exercise equipment that will be made available to the public as well as the schools, will be ready for a grand opening Thursday, July 21 at 6 p.m.

The gym addition project was originally put out to bid in October of 2015, but the three bids all came in at over $500,000, significantly higher than the school board and Borchers wanted to spend. The plan went back to the drawing board and Ehmet and Joe Hayes worked to scale back the project. In December 2015 more bids were received and this time the board approved the lowest bid from Ashley Construction for $313,402. The groundbreaking was in March and the 1,800 sq. ft. facility quickly took shape, extending 88 feet across and 22 feet to the edge of the sidewalk. The addition is freestanding, with its own entrance, and it was built to house the exercise equipment the board acquired with grants.

Superintendent Borchers also briefed the board  on the Riverwalk project. The city and Southbank Partners came to an agreement with the Ludlow Board of Education for a lease agreement on a parcel of land between the fence of the Ludlow stadium to the river two years ago and had a contract to that effect. At the time, an archeological dig was scheduled to be done, and federal financing had to be worked out. Recently another contract was drawn up by the city and Southbank to ask the school board to create an easement on the land, which would require declaring it as surplus property, and Borchers said he couldn't recommend that to the board, so he called in Don Ruberg, a lawyer.

"We want to make the Riverwalk happen," said Borchers, "but we don't want to lose any control over the property. We would like to send them back the original contract and ask what are the pieces you don't agree with? We would like to see the design, so we brought a lawyer in to even the playing field."

Borchers is confident that they will be able to work out an agreement.

"I want it to work," he said determinedly.

The board heard the first reading of policy changes, the first to authorize the board to purchase needed items for the staff, and the second to raise the rate of per diem reimbursement for trips from $30 to $40, for both the classified staff and certified staff.

The board OK'd the renewal of the contract for the School Resource officer, and Borchers said the contract was exactly the same except for dates. They also approved the food service procurement policy, which is new this year and is basically a purchasing agreement. They approved the indirect cost transfer of money from the food service to the general fund, a move required by the state every year.

Ludlow High School Principal Travis Caudill spoke about conducting interviews for the boys basketball head coach position, which was vacated when Randy Wofford resigned. Six applicants were interviewed and the field was narrowed down. Then Wofford asked to talk to Caudill and told him he thought he made a mistake and wondered how he could rectify that mistake. Caudill told him he could apply for the job just like everyone else, so he did. Through the interview process, it was clear that Wofford was the best candidate for the job, so he is once again the head basketball coach.

"Part of the process is interviewing the kids, and the kids wanted Mr. Wofford," said Borchers. "As important as winning is, it is important to know that being a good coach is beyond winning."

It was announced that 38 seniors who just graduated won 95 scholarships from 38 entities worth a total of $1,137,200. Borchers gave kudos to the high school staff for helping identify the scholarships and matching them to the students.

School fees were approved for the next school year at $40  for the elementary, $75 for grades 7 and 8 and $95 for the high school. Tuition was set at $250.

The board went into executive session to discuss Superintendent Borchers's evaluation and approved the evaluation formally when they reconvened the meeting. The board gave the superintendent exemplary ratings in all seven categories: strategic leadership, instructional leadership, cultural leadership, human resource leadership,  managerial leadership, collaborative leadership and influential leadership.

Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor