WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (1/16/13) - Webster County Schools hosted a middle school forum Tuesday night in the Dixon Elementary Gym.
“We really want the community to be an active participant,” Superintendant Dr. James Kemp told those who gathered for the meeting. “In many projects the districts proceed with the quickest plan. They do not listen to what the public has to say. I believe the school belongs to the community.”
Assistant Superintendant Alan Lossner presented the findings and recommendations of the committees that have been busy visiting other schools in the last few months.
The Academic Performance Committee listed some issues they felt needed to be addressed. Among them were the fact that currently all elementary schools in the district are using a different middle school curriculum. They also suggested that the district look at having a strong RTI/Remediation program in place before the middle school opens.
The Learning Environment Committee made a site visit to Dawson Springs Middle and High Schools. Among the positives they spotted were Exit Interviews, in which graduating seniors spoke with eighth graders and told them what they wish they had done differently in high school and an orientation for all incoming middle schoolers.
The Efficiency Committee visited Ballard County Middle and High Schools. According to the committee report the structure and size of Ballard County’s facility is very similar to that of the plan for Webster County. The committee reported that Ballard administrators recommended that sixth grade be included in the middle school because of accountability.
Two more site visits are being planned for Benton Middle School in Marshall County and Murray Middle School of the Murray Independent School District, both of which were ranked as Schools of Distinction during last year's testing.
But much of what is on the minds of Webster County parents is the building itself. In late November, after months of planning and promising that the Webster County Middle School would be open by August of 2013, Architect Scott Noel told the board that it would no longer be possible.
“We were rushing through this to get everything ready for next school year,” he said then. “Looking back at everything we realize that you all are not going to be able to do that.”
At Tuesday night’s meeting the time line seemed to be on everyone’s mind.
“Assuming everything goes perfectly, when do you anticipate actually beginning work?” asked high school principal Tim Roy.
“It’s hard to say until we know what we’re doing,” Noel replied.
“Is it reasonable to expect that you could start before the end of the school year?” Roy asked.
“No, there’s no way we can start by the end of the school year, even if we started the process today,” Noel said.
During discussion Noel said that the best case scenario was for the construction to begin in August, but that it could be as late as December. This tightens up what had initially appeared to be a year and a half to get the construction done.
The original plan for the school opening in 2013 had called for eight months of construction. Now it appears that it’s possible that the district will be back on the same tight construction time line for the 2014 opening.
“For our community this is the unknown,” Dr. Kemp said of having a middle school. “We can’t all agree on everything, but I think we can agree that we only get one shot at this.”
J-E News Editor
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