Last updated: July 18. 2013 11:12PM - 212 Views
Cris Ritchie

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HAZARD – The Perry County Board of Education last week approved the purchase of licenses for educational programs that officials say should help improve the district’s accountability scores.

The county school district will pay approximately $117,000 for access to the Map and Compass Learning educational software programs to first screen students’ abilities, and then fashion a plan for them aimed at improving their educational attainment.

The Map program came with a cost of $14,500, while access to Compass will cost $112,835, according to Interim Superintendent Jonathan Jett.

Students in grades second through ninth will be screened prior to the Christmas break, Jett noted, and use of the Internet-based Compass program will begin in January once students return from the holidays.

Once students go through the screening process, officials can begin to pinpoint specifically what subject areas need more attention, and then fashion a program to move them forward in that specific subject.

“We feel like it’s a really good tool, but again, it goes back to the people who are using it.” Jett added. “We have to have quality people that are implementing that routinely, with fidelity, to make sure that it’s going to be successful.”

Board members had discussed using future coal severance allocations to purchase the licenses, in either 2013 or 2014, but according to Bridget Maggard, the district’s director of federal programs, some money from the GEAR UP program was shuffled to purchase the new software in math for grades six through eight, meaning that it will be implemented in the district much sooner for those students. Maggard added that officials decided to purchase the math software due to the district’s focus on math following the last round of accountability scores.

“We’ve had similar tools, but nothing that gives this much information and pinpoint specific skills like these programs will,” Jett added.

In other business, the board approved pay applications and purchase orders for the ongoing construction on East Perry Elementary, which at present is slated to open for students by the beginning of the 2013-14 school year.

Melinda Joseph-Dezarn, with the architectural firm Ross Tarrant, explained that while the recent 4.3 magnitude earthquake in Eastern Kentucky did crack some of the concrete on the new school, there was no damage that couldn’t be repaired, and the “project is moving right along.”

Crews are also continuing work on the planned athletic complex, which will include new fields and a field house. Footers have been poured for the field house, plumbing is being stubbed in, and footers have been poured for the softball dugouts.

The board also approved an agreement with Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky to accommodate a health care provider onsite at Perry Central High School for two to three days each week. The provider, a physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner, will only see students or staff and faculty at the school.

The agreement was approved for one year, and officials will have the option to extend it at that time. Jett noted that the agreement will have no effect on the school nurses provided by the health department.

The board also approved a measure to use up to $11,000 in coal severance money to pave a small piece of property at Viper Elementary School. The matter came up at the request of Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble and members of the fiscal court, who requested that the board allocate funds for the project.

According to Jett, the area is used routinely by students who walk from the school to the playground and soccer field.

“The judge wanted us to use some of the coal severance money to make sure that project went through, and that’s fine,” Jett said, adding that he hopes the district can begin to forge better working relationships with other local government and school districts. The board unanimously approved the allocation.

“We’ve got to get a better working relationship with every agency in our county and city,” Jett said. “We haven’t been able to work together in a while, and I’m not putting the blame on anybody for that, but for whatever reason there’s not been a real good working relationship.”

Board member Debbie McIntosh last week commended the county’s legislators, Sen. Brandon Smith and Rep. Fitz Steele, along with local officials in Judge Noble and Hazard City Manager Carlos Combs, for their help in securing funding or other work needed for the school district.

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