By: Greg Bird
A year ago we asked “What is next for the McCreary Aacademy?”
Following a controversial budget cut that eliminated a principal position for the school, and moved the district’s alternative school from its self-contained unit at McCreary Middle School to McCreary Central, the McCreary County Board of Education voted last month to reverse the move and have called for its return to where it had begun.
McCreary County School’s Superintendent Donnie Wright, who championed the move last year as a measure that would save the school district over $200,000 now finds himself in a position where he has to reverse course and re-establish the school by January 5, the start of the next semester.
A 3-2 vote by the Board last month will move the Academy back to the middle school, and the Board also voted to recreate the principal position that was abolished just a year ago.
In the meeting Board member Brandon Kidd originally requested four certified high school teachers, one certified middle school teacher, a special needs teacher and instructional supervisor to staff the Academy when the transition was completed, but he was advised by Board Attorney Jeff Hoover that since it was a special called meeting at the time, and staffing was not included on the agenda, it would not be possible to add additional criteria to the motion. A new staffing motion could be on the agenda during the December meeting.
Currently there are three teachers employed by the Academy at the high school, and presumably all will have to be transferred to the new location, when the transition occurs.
MCHS Principal Sharon Privett said Tuesday that she has had no official directive from the Central Office concerning the move, but is aware of the Board vote and is making plans for the move.
“We have enjoyed having the Academy students as part of our school,” she said. “Getting to work with the students and staff was a learning experience for all of us. I certainly wish them the best when they transition back.”
One of the advantages to the transition last year, the Board was told, was the opportunity for Academy students to take advantage of classes, such as career and technical programs offered at the high school. Privett said the students seemed to enjoy the opportunity, and hopes something could be worked out to continue to allow those students that opportunity.
“Many of the students were taking part in the dual enrollment, and I hope the District allows it to continue,” she said.
Privett also said lack of resources, due to the budget cuts, hindered the Academy at the high school.
“I do feel that they (the Academy) need their own administrative leadership,” she said. “Someone to be with them every day.”
The main thing hindering the transition at this point is the lack of a principal for the school.
Superintendent Wright said that as of Tuesday afternoon no one had applied for the position that was created by the Board. The effective posting date of the job was November 25, so less than a month remains for applications for the job.
Since the Academy is not governed by a Site Based Decision Making Council, the task of hiring falls to the Superintendent.
Wright said once that position is filled the transition should be able to move rapidly.
“Once a principal is hired for the Academy, I would be glad to work with that person to see the transition completed,” Wright said.
He noted the space in the basement of the middle school, where the Academy used to be located, has been put to other use as offices since the move and those would have to be moved.
Additionally, the classrooms would have to be set up again and bus routes adjusted, but Wright believes the move can be accomplished by the January 5 deadline imposed by the Board.