A committee of prominent Greenup Countians plans to meet later this month with Greenup County School Superintendent Steve Hall to discuss a slate of recommendations they have developed for the district.

The group calls itself the Stuart Committee. Members hope that by taking a personal interest in the district, they can spark renewed community focus on a system still shaken by the recent designation of Greenup County High as one of the lowest-performing schools in the state.

“The system suffers because there is no community involvement,” said retired circuit judge Lewis Nicholls, president of the committee. “Research shows that successful schools have that involvement.”

The committee, which has no legal authority, formed in late February and a subcommittee met again in March to hammer out recommendations on accountability, curriculum, alternative school formation, new principal selection and tutoring after school.

The subcommittee included Nicholls, outdoor writer Soc Clay, Greenbo park business manager Tom Clay, physician Grant Stephenson, retired airline pilot Bill Secrest and retired Ohio school superintendent Mike Ferguson.

The committee recommended heightened accountability for all district employees and increased documentation of problem areas. It called for swift firing of teachers for cause without regard to tenure.

It also called for monetary incentives for teachers whose students perform well.

Among other recommendations:

‰Forming an alternative school for disruptive students.

‰Minimum grade requirements for students to participate in sports or drive to school.

‰No cell phones for students.

‰Monthly parent-teacher conferences, and scheduling conferences at times convenient for parents.

‰Regular contact with parents by teachers.

‰Prompt discussion of SAT and ACT scores with students.

‰Emphasis on English and mathematics.

‰Solicitation for math tutors from the community, including the business sector.

‰Spotlighting high-performing students at athletic events.

‰Student uniforms.

‰More professional attire for teachers.

‰Higher pay and more continuing training for the incoming high school principal.

‰More emphasis on after-school tutoring.

An initial meeting with Hall convinced some of the committee members that the district already is taking steps to turn the school around, Nicholls said. “I think Mr. Hall is way ahead of the game,” he said.

Nicholls believes committee members can foster reasoned community discussion of district issues in an atmosphere where “a lot of people just want to throw stones. We understand that we don’t have any power. We just want to volunteer where they think they can plug us in.”

The district already is taking action on some of the recommendations, Hall said. For example, the accountability recommendations closely resemble steps the district is taking.

“The good news is that people are talking about Greenup County schools in Greenup County.”

“If nothing else, the persistent low achieving status has raised community awareness,” he said. “People want to know what’s going on.”

In its report the committee said the district didn’t get into trouble overnight but “after years of neglect and apathy.”

“Our only goal is to be a community-based group of volunteers who will provide whatever assistance we can to have the Greenup County School System become a top-performing school in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

MIKE JAMES can be reached at mjames@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2652.

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