The Harlan Independent School District has again been recognized for cost effectiveness in providing educational services to the community, Superintendent David Johnson told the Board of Education during a special meeting on Tuesday.
In its report “Bang for the Buck: How efficient are Kentucky’s Schools?” the Bluegrass Institute listed Harlan Independent Schools as the second most cost-effective district among Kentucky’s 169 K-12 public school districts.
Johnson said the study, released on Sept. 17, rated districts based on their school achievement as measured by composite ACT scores versus per-pupil spending from 2011. The study found that the average ACT score among the state’s districts was 18.5, with the average spending of $10,503.57 per student. Harlan Independent’s average score was 20.9. The district’s average per pupil spending was $8,639.
In a press release from the Bluegrass Institute, Harlan Independent is noted for its performance despite a student poverty rate of 53 percent. Richard G. Innes, author of the report, stated that student poverty clearly does not stand in the way of efficiency in Harlan Independent School District.
“We are pleased to be recognized again for our efficiency and cost effectiveness in providing a strong academic program that prepares students for college and careers,” said Johnson. “Like all school districts, we would like to have more money for the education of our children. We have made significant cuts in recent years, but we have tried to minimize the impact on the classroom. The real key is the quality of teaching that takes place in the classroom and we have outstanding teachers and staff in our schools.”
Harlan Independent School District was also recognized by the Center for American Progress in its 2011 national study “Return on Educational Investment.” The district was then recognized as being among the nation’s most cost effective school districts based on a comparison of the average per student spending and the strong academic performance of its students.
“We take our responsibility to our community and all of our children, regardless of their situation or background, very seriously,” said Johnson. “This study helps confirm that we are using our community’s resources efficiently and effectively for the benefit of our children.”
In regard to the upcoming release of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) results, Johnson said Commissioner Terry Holliday wants the public to understand “under the new standards in the new assessment program it’s highly likely the scores will be lower than everyone is used to seeing.”
“That happens every time we implement a new assessment system,” said Johnson. “We went through it with KERA — every time we’d make an adjustment we’d have to work our way back up. Commissioner Holliday explained this is more than likely to happen again. It won’t just be true for us, but true for all the school districts across the state.”
In other the action, the board members:
*Agreed to pursue handbooks for substitute teachers and coaches as provided by the KSPA;
*Noted a vacancy position will be posted for Director of district-wide services, recently vacated by C.D. Morton who was hired as principal. Approved changing that contract from 230 days to a 220 day contract;
*Approved the hiring of a part-time hourly bus driver for three hours per day;
*Approved a transportation agreement with the Harlan County School District to transport county students to the Bell County Day Treatment Center at a cost of $100 per day.
Board members went into executive session per KRS 61.810 (1.b) and returned with no action taken.
Reach Nola Sizemore at 606-573-4510 or at email@example.com