HENRY COUNTY SCHOOLS PRESS RELEASE
Seven years ago, we began a new era in our school system. We began efforts to strengthen our schools academically, and structurally. We embarked upon renovations and new additions to all of our campuses that were unprecedented. From minor improvements such as adding emergency lighting, paint and new tile floors, to major additions such as libraries, new kitchens and cafeterias, our schools have experienced great things in a relatively short amount of time.
A closer look across our system will reveal a new gymnasium, parking lot, and renovated kitchen and classrooms at Abbeville Elementary; an entirely new campus at Abbeville High; a new office complex, lunchroom, cafeteria, and 20 new classrooms at Headland Elementary; a new parking lot, energy efficient windows, renovated gymnasium, cafeteria, kitchen, and classrooms at Headland High; a new media center, parking lot, freshman academy, kitchen and cafeteria at Headland Middle school. All of this in just 7 years.
Academically, we had to embrace the changes forced upon us by the ever-flawed No Child Left Behind. With this challenge we implemented target specific programs and funding to address our critical need areas. We provided up-to-date technology for our classrooms, $10,000 per library to update the book collection on each campus, distance learning labs at both of our high schools, and will soon install wi- fi networks in every school.
The budgeting process from the central office now involves direct input from all of our schools. Our budget reports and even check registers are posted online to provide complete transparency of our funds to the general public. We have maneuvered through four straight years of proration losing nearly $5 million of annual funding without having to borrow money.
Our graduation rates have improved from 60% county-wide to 84% county-wide in 7 years. The increase reflects nearly 50 more students per year are graduating from our schools! The number of special education students now proficient has improved by an average of 40% system-wide. 15% more of our students are now reading on grade level. That equates to over 425 students!
We have implemented school resource and truancy officers which have helped curb absenteeism and violence in the schools. We have also created a new Virtual Campus that will offer new flexible scheduling to
at-risk students to graduate. We have adjusted our Code of Conduct to allow for more input from staff in discipline decisions at the school.
We were also declared free of desegregation constraints by the Federal Courts by implementing policies that placed all employees on the same level without regard to race. We implemented a school choice option that allows parents to take their children to the school of their choosing, and began charging tuition to those outside of our county.
The list can go on by applauding the efforts our employees have taken to become better professionals. Our administrators are second to none. Our support staff and teachers are second to none. I am proud of the accomplishments we have made over the past 7 years. Where there have been successes, I give our staff full credit. If there are areas where some believe have been failures and shortcomings, I take the full blame.
It is with pride in knowing that our system is much better now than it was 7 years ago that I announce that I will not seek to be re-elected as your Superintendent of Education. I announce this with the comfort of knowing that there is greatness within our staff waiting to rise up to the challenge and carry our system forward.
I am thankful for the opportunity the citizens have given me to serve. I am most thankful to our staff for the way you carry out your job every day. Your efforts are good enough for me to have entrusted you with our children's education, and will continue to be good enough for you to educate our grandchildren.
I have tried to run this office with honesty and integrity. I have also tried to add humor to the mix whenever possible. A good laugh every now and then is good medicine. Finally, I ask that you pray for Dede and I in the days ahead as we trust God to lead us in the right direction, and that wherever we go we will be used to carry out His will.