Double dose of great news: Fleming Co. released from four years in state assistance; board member: district improved due to tough calls made by predecessors...

Ledger-Independent, Maysville, May 27, 2017

State Assistance ends for Fleming County School District

by CHRISTY HOWELL-HOOTS

FLEMINGSBURG -- The Fleming County School District received news of its exit from state assistance on Thursday.

Members of the board of education were clearly pleased as the recommendation was announced during a special meeting Thursday evening.

The announcement was made by Kentucky Department of Education Education Recovery Director Julia Rawlings after she reviewed the results of a recent diagnostic review with the board members and superintendent.

"When is this official?" Board Member James Watkins asked.

"As soon as you received the results, it was official," Rawlings said.

The results of the diagnostic review showed the Fleming County School District had three improvement priorities; develop and implement a program evaluation process for internal stakeholders to monitor program effectiveness, engage all staff members in a collaborative process to develop, implement, monitor and document a district-wide instructional process and systematically and continuously use data to identify and coordinate learning support systems to address the unique learning needs, educational achievement and coordinate learning support systems.

The school district entered state assistance in 2013 after Education Commissoner Terry Holliday found six issues with the district that included financial, management and educational issues.

That same year, $1.2 million was cut from the school's budget in order to maintain a balanced budget.

Since entering state assistance, the school district worked to achieve a district of distinction status, spearheaded by Superintendent Brian Creasman.

In order to qualify for the status, a district must have an overall accountability score at the 95th percentile or higher, meet current annual measurable objectives, have at least 95 percent participation rate and not have a focus or priority school.

Creasman said he was excited to find out the board had exited state assistance, after just three years.

"This just does not happen; to do it in three years," he said. "We did this because of the board and the whole team. It's just phenomenal."

According to the report, Fleming County High School also had three improvement priorities listed, but the management audit found that current Principal Stephanie Emmons, did have the capacity to lead the school and recommended she remain.

Emmons said she was thrilled to find out the results.

"This is a wonderful day," she said. "We've all worked hard for this and now we can move forward and continue to be the best district we can be."

Board Member Sandy Faris expressed her thoughts on how previous board members handled the district over the last three years.

"I may not have agreed with everything they did or all the decisions they made, but I know it can't be easy to make cuts the way they had to do," she said. "The district is better because of the tough decisions they had to make."

Creasman agreed with Faris.

"You can't get better without making tough decisions," Creasman said. "The district wouldn't have come as far as it did without those initial decisions."

During the meeting, Creasman also announced that a case study had been released by AdvanceEd on how the Fleming County School District turned around in such a short time period.

"This is a big deal for us," he said. "This is a world-wide organization and for them to recognize a small school district in Eastern Kentucky, it's amazing. I've always said, we didn't start the fire; just the awesomeness."

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