The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

Letter to Editor

Dear Editor,

First, I want to point out that I am a proud resident of Henderson County and overall have been pretty satisfied with my experiences with the West Central School District. However, recent events have caused me concern.

As a parent, taxpayer, and voter, as well as an educator at the high school level, I think we need to take a step back and look into some issues.

Recently, West Central High School was placed on the school in need list. Obviously, restructuring and new procedures are in order but I think we need to focus on our goals.

It's come to my attention that academic standards are being lowered. I've heard that the high school has no honor level courses. How can test scores improve if you don't challenge students to do their best? If you lower the bar do you really think these students are going to get good tests scores?

As a parent, I want my kids to have the opportunity to take higher level courses. How else are they going to be prepared for college and the future? Instead of taking days off like "deer hunting" day maybe keep school in session and implement new strategies and tools that would be more beneficial.

As most people in the community know the economy is in decline. Why are we, the taxpayers, paying for services we don't need?

For example, do we really need a Dean of Students?

Do any other schools our size have one?

To save money, why don't we eliminate some of the many administrative jobs and hire an experienced, discipline-minded principal.

Traditionally, isn't one of the jobs of a principal to deal with discipline?

Maybe if kids were held accountable and discipline problems solved then the school could focus on academics, which is the main concern.

I also believe that morale at the high school is extremely low.

We need a principal that believes in the teachers and backs them up. Shouldn't the principal and superintendent be the "cheerleaders" of a school?

Continuing, as a taxpayer, shouldn't there also be a prerequisite for a superintendent to be a resident of that community? It was alarming to hear that our superintendent lives outside the area. If my taxes must be raised to support the school shouldn't he have to pay them as well?

Finally, I am extremely angered by the lack of professionalism of some in the West Central School District. I recently learned that at the last board meeting two West Central High School teachers were fired.

I have never met these teachers nor do I know how they taught, however the reasons for dismissal were at least petty, and at most vindictive.

I was told one was fired due to not participating in school activities and the other for being "unethical," because lesson plans were not turned in. I realize that lesson plans are important if absences occur. However, do these teachers receive any feedback on their lesson plans from administrators? What are they honestly used for?

Going back isn't the goal to raise test scores? Is there any documentation that shows the correlation between test scores and turning in lesson plans?

Secondly, aren't teachers allowed to have a life outside the school? Is it in their contracts that they have to participate in school functions and on committees?

I would also like to see school board members and the superintendent reevaluate the procedures and by-laws of being a member of the school board.

When in a closed door session is not the information discussed supposed to be confidential?

Also, isn't your position an elected office? Aren't you supposed to be speaking for the community?

I challenge the West Central School Board, Superintendent, teachers, parents, and community to reevaluate what our goals are and determine how we should accomplish them.

I would love to see a public forum held where concerned parents, community leaders, board members, and teachers work together to return West Central to its academic excellence.

I think that before any more teachers are fired or restructuring begins that the community should be informed and allowed to express their views and have their ideas acknowledged and considered not ignored.

Awaiting your response:

Stephanie Carnes