Op-Ed

School owners work to keep it safe for students

Alice Whitaker, director of Lotts Creek Community School, Inc., stood in front of the Cordia School in 2005. The state commissioner of education has said the school, leased to Knott County Board of Education, must close in February.
Alice Whitaker, director of Lotts Creek Community School, Inc., stood in front of the Cordia School in 2005. The state commissioner of education has said the school, leased to Knott County Board of Education, must close in February. Herald-Leader file photo

In a recent article the Lotts Creek Community School of Knott County, which owns Cordia School, was totally mischaracterized. The report of the condition at the school in a letter from the state commissioner of education was misleading at best and wrong in some instances.

The area of the mouse droppings, found by a state inspector, was small and immediately corrected by the Knott County Board of Education, which is responsible for pest control and general maintenance of the facility. Tim Crawford, attorney for the school board, was wrong when he said the board had no responsibility for maintenance.

The only responsibility of Lotts Creek was a structural engineer’s inspection, the adjustment of a generator, and assurance that no students or staff will use the gymnasium.

In the lease agreement between the school and the school board, Lotts Creek has no oversight or jurisdiction over the school program and employees of the school board.

The school typically reports issues to the principal or superintendent or vice versa, and we work together for correction. Over the 75 years of existence as a settlement school with an agreement with the school board, there have been ups and downs, but always the betterment of the students and community is the concern.

I keep feeling that there is something else behind this. I’m certain that an equivalent inspection in any school will find the same or similar issues. Things happen daily.

Is it that Lotts Creek is considering becoming a charter school? Is it because we are seeking diversity by enrolling children of other cultures such as Dominican, African-American, South Sudanese, Nicaraguan and Malaysian who bring much to the education community?

Is it that Cordia has excelled in basketball — winning an All A championship in and continuing to be competitive with the larger schools?

Lotts Creek would never condone nor allow the school space to be used if it is determined to be unsafe by a structural engineer. We would welcome an investigative reporter to visit.

With the mantra, “We are family,” we have tried to embody the good.

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