During his years as assistant superintendent at Red River Technology Center, Ken Layn has filled in as an administration representative at meetings of the board of education. But when the board held its February meeting, Layn would have preferred never having been cast in that role.

This time, it wasn’t temporary — Jerry Morris would not be coming back.

“It’s been tough. I wish it hadn’t been that way,” Layn said, acknowledging the somber pall and sense of loss that covered the campus following Morris’ death. The longtime Red River superintendent died of cancer on Jan. 14, and Layn is among many connected with the school still feeling the impact of the loss.

“It’s been tough. Jerry was a great man,” he said. “We lost a great friend, a great administrator; the patriarch of this school. It’s unfortunate the way it ended. This is not how any of us wanted it to be.”

“But,” Layn added, “Jerry would be the first telling us to suck it up and go on and make a positive impact. So we’re going forward.”

For members of the board, going forward at the February meeting meant restructuring the school’s administration by approving the appointment of Layn as acting superintendent. A job search is under way to find a permanent replacement for Morris and, Layn noted, “There have already been applicants and the interview process is taking place.”

Morris’ death prompted the school to close on Jan. 17, and board members approved using a “snow day” to make April 4 a regular school day to compensate for that closure.

In addition, the board approved rehiring Layn as assistant superintendent and of re-employing Anita Hasenmyer as coordinator of Adult and Continuing Development for fiscal year 2009.

The board also addressed four items tied to some type of construction project, including two related to RRTC’s carpentry program.

Board members approved bids to provide painting, drywall and insulation for the house carpentry students have been constructing as their major 2008 project. A bid of $4,475 was accepted from Duncan’s John Tienken painting, while Duncan-based Martinez Drywall will apply drywall at a cost of $1,950. The board also approved a bid of $1,400 from Spivey Insulation of Duncan and Bray for insulation installment.

Although it was completed a year ago, the board took action that should lead to selling the carpentry department’s 2007 project house. That structure has been sitting completed on the RRTC campus since last spring and has not yet been purchased.

After receiving advice from a Realtor, the board voted unanimously to lower the asking price on the house to $65,000.

“We had a local Realtor do an evaluation on housing market trends and it indicated we had the price of the house set too high for the current market,” Layn said. “The house can be ready to go tomorrow, so we’ll see if we can get it moved by lowering the price.”

Layn gave board members an update on progress of the remodeling and lighting project for the space that will house RRTC’s newly created Biomedical Science Academy, which will open in the 2008 fall semester. “The construction is going well. We’ve set April 1 as the completion date, and we’re on schedule at this time,” Layn noted.

For the first time, board members also addressed a problem with water leaks that have developed over the years in the roof of the school’s main building. They approved hiring Kaighn Associates Architects of Norman to provide architectural services that will lead to rectifying that problem.

“The building is 30 years old and there’s been some settling over the years that has caused some roof leaks to show up,” Layn explained. “We need to get those fixed, and it will be a pretty extensive process.

“The first step was to get the architects to create an architectural plan.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved:

Policy book changes to Administrative Regulation No. 3.9.7 regarding vacation time, and Regulation No. 3.9.11(a) regarding unused sick leave.

Sponsoring a school board member workshop, which is tentatively scheduled for April 15.

A $25 fee charge for Ability to Benefit testing for people wishing to enter an institution other than Red River Technology Center.

Employee contracts.

A contract for FY 2009 with ADPC, a computerized financial services company in Ponca City.

The school calendar for FY 2009.

Minutes from the board’s Jan. 8 regular meeting.

The January Activity Fund and treasurer’s report.

General Fund change orders and warrants for FY 2007.

General Fund payroll change orders, warrants and encumbrances for FY 2008, and General Fund change orders, warrants and encumbrances for FY 2008.

During the information items, Layn updated board members or enrollment in the school’s ed2go online class program.

“Enrollment is up a little in ed2go over last year,” he noted. “In the long run, we think the program will be more and more popular as people discover it.”

Layn led a discussion of fire drills, outside groups using rooms at the school during month February and the recent Career Expo the school held in conjunction with the Simmons Center. He also presented information on a Career Information Specialist report, and an update on the school’s lease with ClearWire.

It was announced that a New School Board Member Workshop will be held April 11-12 or April 12-13 in Oklahoma City, with board members being able to earn 12 continuing board education points for attending.

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