Hazard and Perry school districts collaborate to benefit students
by Amelia Holliday
HAZARD — The Hazard Independent School Board met for a special called meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss district improvement plans, a grant, and new collaborations with the Perry County School District.
Board members voted unanimously to adopt a memorandum of agreement between the two districts, which would allow for a comprehensive effort to improve college and career readiness, provide high quality extra- and co-curricular activities for students K-12, and meet the unique needs of all students enrolled in each district.
Jonathan Jett, interim superintendent of the Perry County schools, who attended the meeting to present and discuss the memorandum, said he thinks this is the best thing for students in both districts.
“I don’t think either district has the resources alone to get where we need to be, but together we can share maybe what we already have,” Jett said.
The memorandum would essentially allow the districts to combine resources in almost any area needed, such as staffing, class availability, advanced programs, and physical and occupational therapy services.
“That’s why we wanted it to be fairly general, so that we could do what needed to be done,” Jett explained. “I’m in an interim position, but while I’m here I’m going to try to do what’s best for our students. And if we, as superintendents, can’t do what’s best for our students then it’s time to move on.”
Sandra Johnson, Hazard Independent superintendent, said after long discussions with Jett it was clear that they were moving in the right direction.
“Mr. Jett and I have met several times in the last couple of months and these are some things that we have discussed and agreed to jointly work together to accomplish for the students of Hazard and Perry County,” Johnson said. “We’ve got some ideas that we think we can work together to allow some of our students to be industry certified in some areas that we can offer at the school level.”
Jett said he thought it was time to bury any kind of school rivalry still existing so that not only students but the community can benefit from the joint force of the districts.
“We’re ready to move past that … we know this is best for our kids,” Jett said.
The board also approved the new comprehensive school and district improvement plans (CSIP/CDIP). Roy G. Eversole Elementary Principal Sondra Combs presented the plans.
“What we’ve done is we went to the schools, got groups together, and went through everything in their curriculum to see where we were,” Combs explained. “The focus for the plan was closing achievement gaps between sub groups, building school and district capacity for high-quality planning.”
Combs said the stakeholders of the plan came together and laid out goals for each school, 17 in all, ranging from increasing the average combined reading and math K-Prep scores for each school to ensuring that no underprivileged student would be disadvantaged within the school system due to their economic circumstances.
Johnson said she hoped to improve the planning process next year so that everything could run more smoothly since this was the first year the district had used a new system for the plan.
“[I] just want to thank the schools and the teachers for all the hard work they’ve put into it; it’s very well thought out,” Johnson said.
The board also voted to move forward with a grant for rubber mulch for a playground in the district that is being renovated. The grant would cover 75 percent of the cost of the mulch, the other 25 percent would have to be paid for by the school and could be done so through non-monetary resources, such as volunteered labor to install the mulch.
This type of mulch is environmentally friendly, Dale Williams, who helped work on the grant, said during the meeting. The rubber the mulch is made from comes from recycled tires in the state that would otherwise have been dumped in landfills.
The time of the board’s next meeting has been changed and will be held Feb. 18 at 5:30 p.m. due to schedule conflicts.
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