It was a night of celebration for the Walker family during the monthly Hollow Rock-Bruceton school board meeting held Monday, Feb. 13. It was announced that Central High School senior Xzander Walker earned the highest ACT score of the school. His score of 29 landed him the school director’s parking spot and a special sign reading “Highest ACT Student” was unveiled during the meeting.
Brad Hurley, Hollow Rock-Bruceton School Board chairman, announced Walker was in the top seven percent in Carroll County schools for his ACT score. According to Hurley, only 10 students, among high schools and homeschools in the county, have scored a 29 or higher on their ACT for the current school year.
“We are expecting big things from you,” Hurley said.
In other recognitions, the day of the meeting fell during National School Counselors Week, and board members expressed appreciation for Central Middle and High School counselor Lauren Runions. Dr. Myles Hebrard, director of schools, said some school districts don’t have school counselors, but their school system is fortunate to have Runions.
A group of volunteers with the school system spent a few months researching math textbooks for the district. After reviewing recommendations by the Tennessee School Board Association, it was recommended the system adopt the Savvas Learning Company math textbooks for the next six years. The textbooks saw unanimous approval by 9-12th grade textbook adoption committees and a 65 percent approval rate in K-8 across West Tennessee school districts.
Board members approved several upcoming conferences for students, as well as a recurring $100 stipend for students attending the National Beta Convention in Louisville, Ky., this summer. Hebrard said 27 students and three chaperones are registered for the trip, pending their schedules. Board members agreed to Department of Children Services background checks, at no cost to the district, for parents staying with students on overnight trips.
Dr. Hebrard announced a tentative 2024-25 school calendar, which includes 117 days of instruction and an Aug. 6 start date.
In funding news, the school district moved some excess ESSER (Covid-relief) money after the completion of projects that fell under budget. Some of the excess funds are now allocated for upgrades to the Central school’s intercom system that allows broadcasting into hallways. Other funds will be used to move the elementary school playground closer to the building with new equipment. Hebrard noted teachers have said the distance cuts into recess time for students. A large tree is being removed from the current space and there are plans to repurpose the current playground location in the future.
In similar news, board members agreed to the implementation of a schools model grant allowing for the purchase of two eight-passenger vans for students who are interested in work-based learning at the technology center in the county. This would open up more opportunities for Central High School students through CTE classes.
The system is getting closer to electronic pay stubs for its staff members and hoping for full implementation by April.
In the director’s report, Hebrard congratulated both basketball teams for landing district tournament slots. He announced spring sports – baseball, softball and track – are gearing up for the start to their seasons.
Hebrard also announced potential changes to the state’s education funding formula with a proposal for starting salaries of $50,000 for teachers by 2026. Beginning in the upcoming school year, Dr. Hebrard said he would like to see all families fill out an application for free and reduced lunch for enrolling students. He also announced pending legislation that would put mandatory summer camps in place for grades kindergarten through ninth.
As of Thursday, Feb. 9, the system saw 109 students and 65 who moved away or dropped in exchange for a homeschool environment.
“Every school has that transition. A high schooler moves to a homeschool environment because they’re struggling with grades or classes. We need to figure out how we navigate that,” Hebrard said.
Huntingdon will host the Special Olympics on April 28. Hebrard encouraged board members to visit the games that day for the rewarding experience.
As of Feb. 13, 2023, there were 660 students enrolled in the Hollow Rock-Bruceton Special School District. A high school principal search is underway with one candidate interview this week.
Hurley and Hebrard announced 14 school districts across the state are seeking directors and those positions may be filled before the ideal principal candidate is chosen for Hollow Rock-Bruceton.
The next school board meeting will be held in the library of the Hollow Rock-Bruceton Central High School at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, March 13.