October 2, 2012
No matter your view on the subject, in a little less than a month’s time John Paul Amis will no longer be superintendent of Perry County Schools. By virtue of a contract oft extended by the Perry County Board of Education, he’ll be riding off to a nice retirement.
What he leaves behind him, however, is a school district in need.
First, it should be noted that Mr. Amis did work, especially in his final few years as superintendent, to address the district’s facilities needs. After several years of looking, a piece of property was finally purchased for what is now known as East Perry Elementary, and according to a statement he released last week, funding is now available to build a new school that could potentially consolidate A.B. Combs, Big Creek and Willard elementary schools. Additionally, Buckhorn has essentially a new school, as does Robinson, and plans are in the works to rehab Chavies.
But as the physical needs are now being addressed, it has taken state leadership and a new principal to begin to address the academic needs at Perry Central, the county’s largest high school which last winter was listed one of a handful of persistently low-achieving schools in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
And while ACT scores for the school’s juniors were up this past school year, data shows that graduating seniors actually fared worse than the previous year. At Buckhorn High School it was just the opposite, as junior scores on the ACT declined, while seniors improved.
Additionally, in 2011 the district’s graduation rate was below the state average, while the district as a whole failed to meet requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
While we’re the first to acknowledge that there are some really good things going on in the Perry County School District, such as the free lunch program, the fact remains that there is some very hard work ahead for our local educators and for a new superintendent, whoever that may be several months from now.
Any future success of the district, however, will now fall upon the board of education, the members of which have a very important decision to make in naming who they want to lead their district.
We’re not arrogant enough to presume that we have the best answer, but we do hope the board will lead a very thorough search and consider every candidate for the job, whether they currently reside in this district or not. If anything, what the district needs now is a new direction, and perhaps a little new blood.
— The Hazard Herald