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School board to meet on third Tuesdays

The Hazlehurst School Board has altered its regular meeting schedule on the advice of the state conservator.

In future the board will meet on the third Tuesday of each month at 5:00 p.m. The board used to meet on the second Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., but moving the regular meeting forward to the third Tuesday will give the staff additional time to prepare financial statements, the state conservator explained.

Although the state is officially in control of the Hazlehurst district, the school board will still have a role under the conservatorship, Interim Conservator Dr. Joe Haynes said.

Officials hope to have procedures in place by the next board meeting to allow public comment. Those wishing to address the board must follow the protocol, which will be explained at the meeting.

The state takeover should not be seen as a negative thing for Hazlehurst, board member Marvin Minor told the June 30 crowd. “We were almost at the bottom. We did need held,” Minor said. “I look at this as being something positive.” He explained that the state can guide the district in the direction it needs to go, and also the school board can take a careful look at itself and define its job. “We need to gear our thoughts toward educating children,” Minor said. He asked for the support of the community. “Ask yourself, what can I do? If we all do that the district will be off the bottom in no time.”

Last week school officials were conducting interviews in hopes of filling over 20 vacancies in preparation for the new school year.

“You have an opportunity to have a very, very good program. We are trying to find the best people to do the job,” Haynes said. “We don’t care who they are or where they come from, as long as they’re qualified. We are not looking at anything but qualifications.”

A projected $1.6 million deficit has made cuts in personnel necessary. Budget preparations for the next fiscal year are in the final stages now. State officials are looking carefully at how revenue can best be used. Additional state funds are expected next year to provide staff development, and state personnel will conduct training and perform some tasks to save district and federal funds for other purposes.

“Jeff Davis County is in the black now, and you will be too eventually,” Haynes assured the board.  

He warned the staff to get ready to roll up their sleeves because there is a lot of work to be done to prepare for the new school year which begins in August.

Jean Massey, assistant to the State Superintendent of Education, explained plans to deal with students who did not meet requirements to move on to the next grade. Programs are being put in place, Massey explained, for heavy remediation so these students will not fall further behind.

“But it will require a commitment from students and parents,” she said.

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