It’s important that we all make our voices heard. Tuesday, April 8th will be the day for us to make a decision on where we see the Hickman Mills school district going. A lot has been said about this election. With ten candidates running this year, it will be hard to make a decision to select only three.
We all agree on the obvious. Decisions were made that surfaced with the completion of the state audit. The audit is now behind us. The district must move forward.
We must turn our attention on the decision to educate all four year olds coming into our preschool program. With 600 children targeted to enter the district, a lot of preparation must be made. With the Frieda Markley Early Education Center running at capacity right now, it all will hinge on the renovations to Ervin Middle School. Turning it into a school for our future students is under a difficult time crunch. Seven hundred thousand dollars is being spent to repair the roof. Ervin has not been utilized for several years. The roof has needed repairs since it was closed. Remodelling is necessary to provide the classrooms with restrooms for the children. With the level of renovation, it is difficult to see how it will be ready by August first. However, the superintendent has made a commitment that the work will be done.
An additional 20 teachers must be hired to work with the preschoolers. My concern is that the district will be creating classrooms of 17 preschoolers, with one teacher and one paraprofessional.. For anyone who has been in a room with 4 year olds, it is very difficult to manage small groups of them, let alone teach the objectives. Four year olds have short attention spans and remember this is an all day program. For some of them this will be their first opportunity to socialize in a group setting.
The reorganization of school will take some getting used to as well. Working through problems with changing bus routes and classroom starting times will be another headache that has to be finished and completed by August 1st.
In addition to hiring more primary teachers for preschool, we will again be replacing 25 percent if our teaching staff. This seems to be the reality of the Hickman Mills school district. We will again be replacing approximately 125 teachers this year. Again, we will be going through professional development to bring them current with the ways of our district.
We have a tall order ahead of us. The superintendent believes it will be done and ready to go by August 1st. I have faith that they will try their best. And I hope it will be a successful turn out.
So back to the election on Tuesday, April 8. There have been a lot of things said as to where the district should be going right now. Focusing on college readiness courses, math and reading specialists, the need for transparency, the future role of Cerner in the school district are tall orders. For me, if elected, I will do my best to support our district and pray that the next four months go smoothly so that everything is ready to go August first. Failure is not an option.