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Superintendent's Bleak Report on College, Career Readiness Presented to Board of Education

muhl school board 300POWDERLY, Ky. (6/2/14) ― The Muhlenberg County School District accepted a $1.1 million bond issue during its phase of a special called Muhlenberg Board of Education Monday, June 2.

The Muhlenberg Schools Finance Corporation met earlier to offer the bond. It was noted later that the bond will be paid back not by the Muhlenberg Board of Education but by the state of Kentucky.

The Muhlenberg County School Board approved two amendments to the May 12 administration staffing guidelines that had been accepted by the board.  The amendments added a vice-principal and a secretary  to the Muhlenberg County Technology Center.  The board approved the changes in a unanimous vote.

The board unanimously approved a third school resource officer, who will come from the Central City Police Department and work 220 days each academic year. The total salary cost is $36,667, however, $15,000 is being paid from grants and $6,000 was left over from prior years' funds.  

A controversial book, "The Glass Castle", was also addressed during the meeting.  The board unanimously approved a resolution which said they had no legal authority to override the Muhlenberg County High School site based council in regard to 11th-grade students reading the book.  

In other business, Muhlenberg Superintendent of Schools Randy McCarty made a presentation on a Capstone study which indicated the need to better prepare students for life beyond high school.

McCarty said a motivational study of 365 Muhlenberg County students from the 2013-2014 graduating class revealed 52 percent believed they are not motivated to work hard in high school.  

There were 147 of students that said they were not college or career ready, meaning they did not have skills necessary for college attendance nor did they have any certifications such as  a certified nurse's assistant certificate, which would make them career ready.  

The class included 44 dropouts which was 12 percent of the class's population.  Only 100 students or 28 percent were college ready and 74 or 20 percent left school career ready.  That means 52 percent of the students are not ready to take their place in the work force, said McCarty.

McCarty suggested a program called “Muhlenberg Online Virtual Education” to work with the dropout population.  The program would help students get the credits they need to graduate and help prepare them for career readiness.

McCarty reemphasized the need for more student intervention by directing the board's attention to the district's ACT test scores.  The scores showed Muhlenberg County in last place for the state in math and science.  The scores for reading and English were also very low.  McCarty said that Muhlenberg County was also last for being ready to attend college or to start a career upon graduation.

McCarty said to help counter the trend, he is looking at a program to intervene at the elementary school level to help motivate young students and get them thinking about the future. He is hiring two career counselors, which will work exclusively with career counseling to help motivate and keep tabs on students ,who are experiencing academic  and career hardships.  Any student, however, could make use of their services, he said.  

The district also is going to hire an assistant superintendent of college and career readiness to help deal with the  52 percent of students currently not making the needed progress.  

McCarty also said that a student internship program is being planned. In the past, insurance has prevented many of these programs, however, in mid August, the state is putting guidelines in place to solve the insurance issues.

McCarty pointed out that school and career readiness issues affect not only students but also the entire county.  Major corporations look at educational levels and career readiness levels before moving into a region, he said.  

Muhlenberg County missed out on a large distribution center by a major corporation coming into due to career readiness issues.  

McCarty said Muhlenberg County is in a great location for major businesses as it sets right next to the I69 corridor, and we have a great highway system.  However, when the interested corporation looked at the credentials, it revealed that the county needed 470 additional people with degrees living within the county.

The findings also indicated that the soft skills level of Muhlenberg County citizens were low. Soft Skills looks at attendance, communication, teamwork, leadership and communication skills.  

McCarty's report was accepted by the school board that commended him for his hard work in the last seven months since he has been hired.

Charles Riley II
SurfKY News Reporter

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