Lawrence County Superintendent Jon Bret Smith dispelled rumors that the board is considering plans to close R.A. Hubbard High School in a special called board meeting Thursday, July 11.
Parents and teachers concerned about the school’s future packed a Lawrence County school board meeting hall but were told rumors in the community about the school possibly closing were false.
“I don’t know where the rumor comes from, but that’s not in the makings,” Smith said. The meeting’s agenda was primarily concerned with personnel changes within the school system and the distribution of a state-granted supplemental appropriations fund to each school—not about closing schools.
“It’s not happening, but even if it was, the board singlehandedly can’t do that with a vote. That has to go through the court system,” Smith said.
Smith added that the board is concerned about academic standards at R.A. Hubbard.
“R.A. Hubbard is academically failing. There are several areas that need to be addressed,” he said.
Smith said the school has received some testing data that he is not able to release at this time. Results are still inconclusive as returning seniors may opt to retake ACTs they took as juniors to raise their scores.
President of the Lawrence County Chapter of the NAACP Jan Turnbore addressed the school board requesting that R.A. Hubbard is not overlooked in matters of staffing and funding.
“Our main concern is that the students at R.A. Hubbard receive the same amenities Hatton, East Lawrence and Lawrence County High have,” he said. “We are willing to work with the school board to try to get quality teachers, but when we get those teachers in there, don’t let them just stay two years and take them and send them somewhere else. Let them stay there.”
Turnbore said he was also concerned that R.A. Hubbard operates without an assistant principal, and that funding is not being distributed fairly amongst the four high schools in the county.
“Hatton, Lawrence County High and East Lawrence, they get everything they need, but it seems like R.A. Hubbard is the school that’s always on the bottom. They’re always suffering,” he said. “We want our children to have every advantage in the school system that these other schools have.”
Smith said teachers who request to transfer to other schools within the county are likely to leave their positions altogether if their requests are not granted.
“So, the board itself is in a quandary. If we have a good employee who requests to transfer, and if we deny that transfer we lose that employee,” he said. “As far as assistant principals … the state has a formula, and the state tells you who earns an assistant principal and who does not.”
Smith also attributed funding distributions to State Department calculations. He said needs are being addressed at every school through state-granted supplemental appropriation funds, which can only be used for transportation, insuring the facilities, repairs or deferred maintenance, school safety measures, technology and classroom instructional support.
“To say that the Board of Education is not sending as many funds to R.A. Hubbard that they are in any other school, it’s simply not true,” said Smith.
In Thursday’s meeting, the board approved contracts with Betterton Gutter and Sheet Metal totaling $8,800 for repair work at Speake School, including repairs to the main building, the high school gym and the school mini gym. Smith said much of the items approved would be paid using the supplemental funding.
A contract of $3,000 with Berryman Trenching to repair sinkholes and improve drainage at the Hatton High School football stadium, a contract of $2,287 with Economy Carpets for R.A. Hubbard High, and a contract with DBA Alexander Hardwood for $2,000 to refinish the gym floor at Lawrence County High were also approved.
The board accepted the resignations of R.A. Hubbard Math teacher Mathew Pettus, effective July 9, and East Lawrence Elementary teacher Stevi Kristen Ledbetter, effective July 11.
The board also approved the hiring of Science teacher James Powers, Band Director Marcus Stewart, Math teacher John David Little and English teacher Brianna Burns for R.A. Hubbard, all effective for the 2019-2020 school year.
At Moulton Middle School, the board hired Math teacher Jordan Davis and Social Science teacher Jamie Suggs were also hired, effective for the school year.
Social Science teacher Jared Pollard was hired for Hatton High School, Justin Helms was hired as a Social Science teacher for East Lawrence High, and School Paraprofessional Tanette Brackin and Elementary teacher Amber Malone were hired for Hatton Elementary School.
All board members were present except District 4 Board member Shannon Terry. The Lawrence County Board of Education will meet again Tuesday, July 23 at 6 p.m.