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Board chairman: ‘We accomplished nothing’

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Mullins ‘extremely disappointed’ in progress meeting

By Stevie Lowery

The Marion County Board of Education, principals, teachers, school councils and parents gathered together April 23 at Marion County High School to review each school’s improvement plan. After more than two hours of presentations and discussion, Board Chairman Michael Mullins said he was “extremely disappointed” with the meeting.
“It did not come out like I thought it was going to,” he said to all of those in attendance. “I thought we were going to talk about what we’ve achieved since last fall. I did hear a lot of statistics from you all from different schools and what you’ve done here and what you’ve done there, but I see what happened … It got into a reading meeting.”
Mullins, who initiated the start of a pilot reading project at Lebanon Elementary School, said he believed his past comments about students not being able to read on grade level had struck a nerve.
“I made the comment several meetings past that I would like to have every child on grade level,” he said. “I made the suggestion that we do a pilot program at one of our elementary schools to achieve that. But I see what’s happened is I’ve touched a nerve. People are taking it personal. I’ve criticized. The schools aren’t doing their jobs, according to Michael. That was not the intention whatsoever. And to this day, that’s not what I’m doing.”
However, Mullins’ goal for every child to read on grade level is not realistic, according to West Marion Elementary School Principal Benji Mattingly, who made that comment during his presentation at the meeting.
Mullins said he didn’t understand why, at the elementary school level, the percentage of students unable to read on grade level is five to 10 percent but when they reach middle school that percentage jumps to 40 to 50 percent.
“I don’t understand that,” he said.
Mullins also expressed his frustration that the principals and teachers who presented information during the meeting didn’t talk on “his level.”
“I ask you all next time when you present something to this board that you please talk on my level,” he said. “Don’t talk to me like you’re talking to each other during the day because I don’t understand all the jargon. And I’ve said this for the last two years.”
Mullins ended his remarks by reiterating how disappointed he was in the meeting.
“I hope that next time we get together we accomplish something,” he said. “We accomplished nothing tonight.”
Superintendent Dr. Chuck Hamilton did not share in Mullins’ disappointment, however. Hamilton said he appreciated the work of the school councils, teachers and principals.
“I feel good about the work of the councils and the principals and appreciated their willingness to share their information with each other and at a public meeting,” Hamilton said. “I hope that we can learn from each other, and I hope that each school can take back something that they heard from the others for their improvement plans.”

In other matters, board members:
• Voted to table a decision to pave walking tracks at Calvary Elementary, Glasscock Elementary and West Marion Elementary until the next board meeting. The total cost for paving the CES track, GES track and basketball court, WMES track and the LES exit lane would be $40,370.
“I can’t see at this point us spending money out of the general fund period for anything until we get the pilot program underway,” Mullins said. “Here we are again as a district wanting to spend money out of the general fund to blacktop a walking path and we have students that can’t read on grade level. I would like it to be a focus of ours to stick to that and not get off on the sideline and spend money on something else. I feel very sure that we’re going to have to hire more teachers.”
Currently, Lebanon Elementary School has a paved walking track, which was paid for by a donation from the Marion County Fiscal Court. However, the other elementary schools have either dirt or mulched walking paths.
Board Member Mike Cecil asked if there was any urgency to getting the walking paths paved. Hamilton said no, so the board decided to table the decision.
• Approved the hiring of RossTarrant Architects for the Marion County High School science laboratory and the Calvary Elementary School classroom projects, pending Kentucky Department of Education approval. 
• Approved a contract with White and Company, PSC for the audit of the 2012-13 school year financial records at a cost of $16,750.
• Accepted the resignation of Patrick Campbell as an assistant football coach at Marion County High School, effective April 12.
• Accepted the resignation of Jessica Smith as a cheer coach at Marion County High School, effective April 8.
• Accepted the resignation of Amy Bland as a substitute teacher effective April 12.
• Accepted the resignation of Amy Mattingly as a cheer coach at St. Charles Middle School, effective April 13.
• Accepted the resignation of Chuck Spalding as Director of Family Resource/YSC, effective April 10.