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Monitoring execution of programs key

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READY OR NOT... PUBLIC SCHOOLS START WEDNESDAY

By Thomas Barr

SHEPHERDSVILLE -- Even as he enters his eighth year as superintendent of the Bullitt County Public School System, Keith Davis still has that eager nervousness that comes with the opening day.

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On Wednesday, Aug. 6, nearly 13,000 students are expected to make their way to school.

After a very short summer, due to a 2013-14 school year lengthened due to the bad winter weather, it is time to return to the classroom.

Construction projects remain but this year's theme is two-fold -- to monitor execution and to push college and career readiness.

"We have instituted a lot of programs over the years," said Davis. "We really aren't implementing new programs this year. We're looking at ways to monitor what we are doing to make sure we are properly executing them."

Test scores continue to improve throughout the district but Davis said there is more to education than rankings, although that is what the public more readily uses to gauge success and failure.

"We need to make sure we provide consistent education throughout the district," said Davis.

There is plenty of data to support whether the district is successful at that consistent learning.

And despite what may be viewed as uniform standards, Davis said individual teachers have the ability to determine what method is best for their classrooms.

Many of the best practices are now part of the every day landscape in all the classrooms. Things like learning targets are visible in each room.

"Instructional norms" is the word now and "non-negotiables" is out. Davis said that as the district has tackled many approaches to improve student learning, it has been stressful for everyone.

With the thought that new programs are not planned for the 2014-15 year, Davis said there really are more initiatives in the works.

Discovery School, which will focus on middle school students who like math and science, will begin at Hebron Middle School.

There will be 72 students from across the county in the program.

Educators from Texas are coming into the county to look at the Discovery School and the BAMS programs, said Davis.

The hope is that there will be enough interest to spread the program to other middle schools.

Another program to start this year will be the High School Academies.

No students will be transported to a new school this year. 

Bullitt East will focus on engineering and technology. Bullitt Central will advance its program in allied health. And North Bullitt is looking for an instructor to lead its IT program.

Next year, students from across the county will be able to transfer to a  high school that offers a program of interest.

Another program for second graders who are having trouble reading up to grade level will be the Progress Prep.

Second graders who are not testing up to par in reading will be placed in the Saturday school program at Roby Elementary.

"Some kids just need more time," said Davis.

Studies have shown that second grade is a time to deal with reading issues.

Part of the district's study on student retention, Davis said youngsters will be picked up and returned home. Lunch will be supplied.

Davis said there is plenty of data available on the youngsters to determine who might be a participant.

 The importance is that studies show that reading is a key to learning and it is critical to combat the problem at a young age.

Another change this year will be the elimination of early release days. Instead, students will have selected weekends extended to include a Monday.

See pioneernews.net for a copy of the Back to School section published last Monday or stop by either office for a copy.

So if the superintendent feels good about the learning going on the classrooms, what about construction projects that seem to loom every year?

The college and career centers at North Bullitt and Bullitt East will be completed and are fantastic, said Davis.

Flexible classrooms and labs are joined by an auxiliary multi-purpose room that has a gym floor installed.

Jefferson Community and Technical College will use some of the new space as classrooms for its post-secondary classes.

The center at Bullitt Central is just part of a major renovation program.

Davis said the cafeteria looks fantastic at Bullitt Central and will be ready to go when classes open. 

In terms of the rest of the school, Davis said there might be a need to relocate about six classrooms due to construction.

School officials got a better look at the situation on Friday.

There is always the old cafeteria which can be divided up into temporary classrooms.

It might be Christmas break before the college and career center is ready at BCHS.

Tile replacement continues at Cedar Grove Elementary and the roof is being replaced at Pleasant Grove Elementary.

It will be next summer before work can actually start on the renovations at Maryville and Mount Washington Elementary.