Having served on the Board of Education for the past eight years, I have seen our system work through some important issues thanks to the collaboration with our community. We have certain issues that I have heard from community members in District 2 as well as from across the county as being of greatest importance to them. Below are a few of these issues and what has been done or what is in the works to address the items that are important to you.
Student Achievement and Academic Enhancements
Henry County Schools has been seen as a solid educational opportunity for students and families for many years. Our school district doubled in size in just 10 years, from 20,000 to 40,000 students. People don’t move to your community if your school district is not seen as a positive.
Our students have some of the greatest opportunities anywhere in Georgia to excel in their academic careers. We provide options for all learners. Regular classroom instruction, 1-to-1 technology, dual enrollment options, a college and career academy, and virtual learning. These are just a few of the ways we are meeting the diverse needs of our student population.
We continue to have one of the top graduation rates among our large-district peers. Being in the top 10 for districts based on student enrollment is an important stat for our district and it’s why you will often see comparisons to the nine other districts in this category. We have consistenly outperformed the state and are approaching the 90 percent mark.
This past year, our students showed some of the greatest gains on state testing and as a result, our CCRPI scores skyrocketed. The College and Career Ready Performance Index is the measure by which the state lets us know how we are doing. 42 out of 50 schools saw increases with nearly half of them being double-digit increases. In District 2, six out of eight elementary schools saw their CCRPI score increase, and our three middle and three high schools all saw increases, too. Rocky Creek Elementary has the 2nd highest score among elementary schools, Dutchtown Middle had the 5th highest score among middle schools, and Dutchtown High School had the 4th highest score amonth high schools.
We can point back to many enhancements and investments we made in the classroom to help support this rise in academic achivement levels. Starting with investments in Henry’s Teaching & Learning Standards, we gave focus to our teachers and students, along with pacing, to help ensure that the right material was being taugh and learned at the appropriate time with a strong emphasis on reading.
Resources were invested in to give teachers what they needed to reach students, especially at the early grade levels with reading. Classroom libraries and sets of instructional materials across the district ensured that all learners had the same chance for growth. An updated report card for our younger grades also meant families would be able to better understand the growth and progress of their children. These were just a few of the academic enhancements our district has made to put our district on an upward trajectory for student achievement.
We are pleased with the progress, but we aren’t satisfied. We still have work to do, but we are on the right track. The work ahead is promising and your support matters!
Of the many operations that are required for a successful school district, transportation gets the least amount of funding from the state to support the expenses. Rightfuly so, academic support gets the lion’s share of funding support from state revenues. When looking at the costs of operating a bus fleet of 300 with an equal amount of drivers, plus other support like monitors and mechanics, not to mention administrators, the operation requires a lot of funding, and local funds are relied on to meet the needs.
We have provide extra attention to our fleet here recently to replace several aging buses with modern clean fuel (propane) options that also have air conditioners on them. While we would like to modernize our entire fleet as quickly as possible, that is a several million dollar expenditure that we cannot meet all at one time. We are working in phases to update our fleet, and we are doing it as quickly as we can while making sure we meet all the needs of the district. Our E-SPLOST funds have helped over the years to provide updates, but E-SPLOST only comes every five years.
Our transportation employees are extremely important and valuable to our distrcit. That’s why we have provided raises over the past few years to bring wages up, while also introducing bonus opportunities for good attendance and recruitment of drivers. We will continue to value our employees and are working to ensure we have plenty of backup so our fleet is not stretched thin.
I recognize that our transportation is the first and last experience most of our students have each day, and that is why continuing to enhance this particular department is one of our key focuses.
A safe learning environment is the most important component to any successful school district. Without a sense of security and safety, students and staff won’t be able to focus their attention on the next most important component – academics.
We have placed much of our focus and resources on safety for our district. Our board is dedicated to providing a learning environment where everyone can excel with proper support and protection. Our focus, known as Safe Henry, is responsible for the many aspects you see today like:
- Single-point access entry/security doors
- Check-in systems in all front offices
- Improved and increase in numbers of security cameras
- 1:1 ratio of School Resource Officers for our high schools and middle schools, which provides close coverage for elementary schools
- Dedicated personnel for district-wide school security
I will never take for granted the trust that is placed in our school district to provide the safest and highest-quality education that anyone deserves.
Facility Growth and Renovations
It was not that long ago that we broke ground and cut ribbon on Hampton High School. Without the support of our community for the E-SPLOST, that would not have been possible. That building helped relieve overcrowding at Luella High School and gave District 2 three high schools – Dutchtown, Hampton, and Luella. Since then, we have seen other projects – both facility additions and enhancements, as well as program expansion – for the betterment of the district overall:
- Completion of the Academy for Advanced Studies
- Construction of the new Performing Arts Center – Fairview
- Construction of two new replacement schools in McDonough
- Turf fields at every high school
- Construction of multi-purpose gyms
- Renovation of all school facilities
- First Boys & Girls Club in the county approved
Henry County is continuing to grow, and expansion in our facilities will be required to keep pace much like we experienced from 2000-2010. I have the experience to help see us through this growth from being a small business owner, responsible for planning and future growth, as well as the years of expertise gained working on your behalf on the Board of Education.
Employee Recruitment & Retention
We know that without a strong workforce to meet the needs of our student population, that it becomes much harder to prepare our young people for the opportunities that await them. Our district has placed a strong emphasis on recruiting and retaining the best teachers in the industry. While other districts had to lay off teachers during the economic recession, we were doing everything we could to hold on to ours, and we did. We weathered that economic storm to now have a balanced budget that starts our first-year teachers at the highest salary level in district history, while also providing applicable step increases and raises over the past few years. Thanks to the Georgia legislature’s full funding of state education, we were able to support raises for all of our teachers as well as pay increases for our classified staff. It is important that our employees know just how much we appreciate them and we tell them and show them every chance we get. We continue to expand and improve on our employee recognition and professional development programs such as:
- Teacher of the Year
- Educational Support Personnel of the Year
- Heart of Henry
- Exceptional Educator
- Educator Launch (first year employees)
- Retirement celebration
- Five Star GOLD Leadership Academy
Our educators are crucial to providing ample opportunities for our students to succeed. It takes everyone working together to ensure our students can enter the world beyond high school ready for whatever challenge they choose to tackle. Whether it is military service, college, or even a job right out of high school, our teachers are equipped with the tools and resources necessary to provide the best education to students. And it all starts by showing our employees just how much they mean to us...a lot!
I will continue to place a strong emphasis on high-quality, highly-qualified educators who are ready to serve all of our students each and every day.
Let Candidate Know what issue is important to you.
On this page, we've added a contact form so you can let me know how you feel about the issues facing our community. You can share your comments about the issues above or ask me any question about a different topic. I’ll be happy to respond. Thank you for taking time to read about a few of the important issues for our district.
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