BY JOE B. COATES
The Hazlehurst Board of Aldermen heeded the words of the state department of education when it warned the city that Hazlehurst City School District has one last shot to make it by itself after coming from under conservatorship this fall. The board has elected five solid candidates to fill the positions on the new school board, beginning next spring. (City names new school board, December 11 issue of the Courier.)
The names Rowan Torrey, Dr. Troy Stewart, Emmett Smith, Alberta Nelson and Gerri Hill-Chance, M. D., elicit descriptions, like strength, resolve, business-sense, determination to get it right, high value in the realm of education children and youths and operating efficiently. Some of these I have known for several years. Others I am fairly acquainted with. All are the right people for the right positions at the right time.
I’ve spoken with a couple of the aldermen, and they’ve said in no particular terms that they worked hard to identify strong candidates for the school board, taking into account what could happen if even one misstep was made. The city board is directly tied to Hazlehurst City School District more so now than they’ve ever been by virtue of electing all five new board members. What they’ve done is constructed a solid foundation for the district going forward.
No one that I know of, including myself, wants to see Hazlehurst City School District fall back to what it was five years ago when then-Governor Haley Barbour signed the order to dissolve the district and order the state to take it over. Not one person. We the people need the district to be strong, to be the best, to produce well-educated, hungry-to-succeed and high-achieving students that graduate each year. A school district influences what industries and businesses we attract, the local tax base, the quality of city services, including the roads and bridges we travel on and quality of police and fire services, and the pull factor of the area (a pull factor of 100 or higher is good; less than that means we lose tax dollars to other cities.)
The new school board can’t do it alone, however. Good learning starts at home. Parents and other family members should realize that what they do or don’t do with their schoolchildren each and every evening after school sows the seeds of success in the classroom. Good teachers and administrators can only goes far with children who aren’t receiving, for example, assistance with homework or test preparation at home. That includes my family, as well.
We commend the Hazlehurst Board of Aldermen for fostering a solid new beginning for the new Hazlehurst City School District.
BY JOE B. COATES