BY JOE BUCK COATES
Now that the pleasantries have been dispensed, and the Hazlehurst City School District has been place under state oversight, the situation in the entity is becoming much clearer.
The district’s interim conservator, Dr. Joe Haynes, has practically melted away the layers of bureaucracy that have keep most of the district’s stakeholders from being informed of exactly what has been going on for years, in a little over a few days’ time. Already, just by opening up the district to the light of information, the sense that Hazlehurst can turn it around with help is beginning to gain momentum.
Haynes, along with Jean Massey, state Director of Accreditation, has effectively invited the entire district to get involved in the process of figuring out the what the messes are, getting them cleaned up and planning for the future. That’s a good sign that the state is not here to dictate, but to facilitate the new direction of Hazlehurst Schools. More or less, the district will remain under local control, so long as it achieves certain goals set forth under the state’s guidance.
This common sense approach has already produced positive results in the first school board meeting since the takeover, in spite of the absence of three board members who have steadily pushed an agenda that runs counter to educating children and that were pining to keep the ‘good ol’ boy’ mantra working in their favor. The rescinding of several self-serving decisions made in the prior meeting of trustees was a good start. Furthermore, suspension of the summer feeding program until the program could be reviewed extensively was tough, but will prove to be a wise decision. Continuing to throw money at problems is not a good solution. Figuring out how to better utilize current resources to serve the most good is a better path, albeit longer.
So, heed the invitations to get involved with the reworking and rebuilding of the district. Let the conservator know what you expect, then be prepared to assist if and when called upon. The district won’t get out of it overnight, but it will be better if local stakeholders work closely with the conservator to determine the best direction for the district.