One such item was the approval of the school calendar for the 2010-2011 school year.
The most notable change for the school calendar is the subtraction of two days from the system’s spring break.
Hazard Independent usually has their spring break during the third week of March. This year, however, conflict arose because the ACT testing day for juniors in March 15. This means that juniors have to be in school for a regular school day on March 15, which is a Tuesday.
The break cannot be switched to the next week because March 22 is when special education students are scheduled to take the ACT.
It was decided that spring break would remain in the third week of March; everyone would just have a shorter break.
The calendar also had to be amended to accommodate the loss of two instructional days, one of which the Board has to pay for (the state legislature is paying for the other).
This change slashed the amount of instructional days to 170. This is also the minimum amount of instructional days any school board can approve, according to the Kentucky Education Commissioner.
The education commissioner is also not approving bank days for any school system. This means that if a school district has to miss a day of school for some reason, they will have to make that day up, whether by arriving early and staying late or as added days at the end of the year.
Sandra Johnson, Hazard Independent superintendent, said these decisions affect students and teachers because there are less instructional days, but also with these moves by the commissioner, school boards will be trapped in their decision about how many days their school system needs for instruction.
“The commissioner has taken school board authority away,” Johnson said. She said the mandates from Frankfort are unfair to school districts across the state.
She said she, along with several other superintendents, have written letters of complaint to the commissioner asking him to rethink his decision and explaining to him why the mandates are completely unfair.
The Board also approved the adoption of the “Math in Focus” program. This program is designed for students in kindergarten up to fifth grade, and perfectly meets the national guidelines for core content, said Johnson.
“I’m not easily impressed with textbook companies,” Johnson said to the Board. “But… (this) is a good program.”
This method of teaching math is the same method being used by teachers in Singapore, where students are on a level 20 percent higher than American children at the same age.
Johnson briefly mentioned the fact that during the next school year, students taking advanced placement classes at the high school may be able to receive college credit for those classes through Hazard Community and Technical College.
The possible decision will be discussed at length during the next school board meeting in July.
The Board also voted to approve reimbursement of about $1,800 to high school students involved in the abstinence program in which they go into the middle school and teach seventh graders about sex and postponing sexual involvement.
The school system will be retiring school bus number five to make way for a brand new school bus they bought for the next school year. Bus number five will be put into surplus and put up for auction, as well as an old grey Astro van owned by the system.
Dessie Bowling, the Safe Schools Coordinator for Hazard Independent Schools, had her contract renewed by the Board for another year. Johnson said this was a necessary action.
“We get more the $2,000 worth of services from Dessie,” Johnson said. “Anything we ask, she’s there to help us.”
Johnson informed the Board that Hazard Independent has received the Perkins grant, the money of which will be used to train teachers to better focus on health sciences programs for high school students.
“That seems to be the area that’s most often open in our area, in our community and in the neighboring area for students to come back home and go into,” Johnson said.
An energy manager position has been filled, Johnson said. This position was created for the next school year to help the school system improve their energy efficiency. Also hired by the Board was Amber Stidham, who will be working as a substitute for the system next year.
Jonathan Walker, a security officer at the high school, has resigned and longtime Walkertown Primary teacher, Edna Mae Combs is retiring.
The Board is hosting a public forum in which the Facilities Planning Committee will be sharing with the public their plans to improve Hazard Independent buildings to make them more energy efficient. The public forum will be on July 1 at 5pm in Roy G. Eversole Middle School.
The Hazard Independent School Board next meets on July 13 at 5:30pm.