Lyon County Board of Education members

From left, Lyon County Board of Education members Jim Bannister, Marvin Lee Wilson (board attorney) Superintendent Russ Tilford, George Glass, Denny Gray, Brad Richie and Kent Schoonover review reports during their monthly meeting Monday.

Speak Spanish? Lyon County High School administrators might like to talk to you.

With classes set to start in three weeks, the district is still seeking a candidate to fill a full-time teaching position left open since the end of 2017-18 school year. On Monday during the monthly board of education meeting, Lyon County Schools leadership discussed ways to fill that need for students looking to learn Spanish at the high school.

Russ Tilford, Lyon County Schools superintendent, said online options are available to students, but cautioned that those may not be the best fit for students.

“We’ve still got a foreign language opening [at the high school],” Tilford said. “It’s nothing new to this district or any other in western Kentucky. There’s just a shortage in that particular subject area.”

Lyon County Board of Education member Brad Richie spoke out against a correspondence option.

“I had four semesters of foreign language in college and correspondence is just extremely difficult,” Ritchie said.

Tilford said the district may have to invest in an online foreign language curriculum to satisfy that student need in the short-term. Long-term, the superintendent said he’s hopeful alumni seeking degrees might return to the district next year to fill the vacancy. But Lyon County may have to compete for any future foreign language educators.

Tilford said there was a shortage of students coming out of college with foreign language degrees. He said the district has been in contact with institutions of higher learning and cited nearby Murray State University, which graduated one foreign language student last semester. The district have also contacted former educators to gauge interest in returning.

Tom Radivonyk, the new Lyon County High School principal, said the district could be flexible in attracting applicants.

“A big impediment for people is that they don’t have the level of education necessary,” Radivonyk said. “If you had an online course where you buy seats and you post a classified position. My experience has been that when you post a classified position, you will get a response. If you put in the wording ‘bilingual preferred’ maybe somebody will emerge who is bilingual — maybe doesn’t have a four year degree yet — but puts themselves in that situation and can help facilitate the kids. That person may grow into a position where they [get] emergency certified.”

According to the district’s Web site, the high school Spanish position is the only current open certified teaching position as of this week. The district lists the salary range from $37,672 to $59,504 annually. For more information, visit the job descripition online at https://lyonky.tedk12.com/hire/ViewJob.aspx?JobID=1207.

Also during the meeting, Tilford presented the district’s finance report to the board. Tilford said the district is on solid footing and working to improve areas where possible.

“Financially, we’ve had a great year,” Tilford said. “It’s always nice to know you’ve finished as strong as you started.”

Tilford cautioned the board to look at future facility needs, noting the high school was built in the 1960s and elementary school in the 1990s.

“It was just a year ago we spent $63,000 just to replace one air conditioner in the cafeteria,” Tilford said. “As our buildings age, it’s important we have that safety net.”

The district has also steadily upgraded areas as possible in recent years, including replacing the HVAC unit and carpet in the band room, in addition to new ceiling tiles and paint in the elementary school.

This year, the district’s general fund balance is $1.8 million. Up $200,000 since 2015, the district’s payroll is $4.7 million, while total general fund revenue is $6.5 million.

Tilford said an area where the district is working to improve finances is food services. Lyon County Schools finished the year with a negative balance of $66,169. The district’s cash balance change in food services is about $120,000 over the last decade.

“The ladies managing school food services are excited about changes,” Tilford said. “They’re becoming more efficient with their payroll. They have an open position that they don’t believe they need to fill. They’ve revamped the serving line to become more efficient.”