Views differ on status of local schools: Coleman

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2012 General Election

By Thomas Barr

      LEBANON JUNCTION - Darrell Coleman has been in the classroom.

     He spent 18 years teaching students at Riverview High School before retiring.

     He has the perspective of what teachers are experiencing in the classroom.

     And it is from that viewpoint that Coleman hopes to bring to the Bullitt County Public School Board.

     Coleman is running for the District 5 seat. He challenges incumbent Sammy Allen for the four-year term.

     "I've seen all aspects from A to Z," said the Lebanon Junction resident. "And it's not good."

     Coleman said in his lesson plan for changes, there are many issues the school board must address in Bullitt County.

     From the public's standpoint, people are tired of constant 4 percent tax increases from the school board.

     As a teacher, Coleman said he didn't see where the money collected was being sent back to the classroom. Many teachers continue to have to reach into their own pockets to pay for supplies in the classroom.

     As a substitute teacher in Nelson County, Coleman sees the same thing happening.

     Another concern raised by Coleman was the proposed outsourcing of jobs by superintendent Keith Davis. The classified employees are a big part of the school district and he didn't favor eliminating those jobs and allowing a private company to provide those services.

     The outsourcing of custodians was quickly taken off the table in Bullitt County.

     Coleman said the school district's expectations are too low for their students. Until the expectations at all levels, including the parents and the students, are raised, Coleman said academics would not improve.

     He doesn't favor the trend of teaching to the test and he said students are not learning things they should to better prepare them for life. Instead, they are being taught the test because that is the measuring stick for the district and its teachers and administrators.

     Coleman would like to see the school environment improve.

     Currently, he said there are a lot of disgruntled employees but they are afraid to say anything. He said certified and classified workers fear for their jobs if they voice any discontent.

     That unhappiness spills over into their teacher, said Coleman.

     With a number of concerns, Coleman believes he can be part of the solutions, especially with the support of the other board members.

     First, he said there must be more community involvement and people must feel their voices are welcome. He said this willingness to get the public involved must be done both at the school level and at the board level.

     Second, there must be three parties who have some role in improving education. Teachers must teach but Coleman said parents and students must each shoulder responsibility and accountability. Without the work of all three parts, Coleman said improvements wouldn't happen.

     Third, he said there must be more respect give to the faculty and staff by the central office and by the school board. Coleman said those in the school buildings must have the sense that they are appreciated and supported by the board and central office.

     Fourth, with the more positive environment, it might be possible to retain staff members. And the staff members who have been at their profession a few years might not feel they are being pushed out the door.

     In his race, Coleman said voters have an easy choice to put someone in office who has been in the classroom and knows the issues.

     "All school boards need more educators on the board who know what is really happening," said Coleman. "An educator knows where the money needs to be spent."

     "I am qualified to tell people what is needed," added Coleman. "I believe I can help."