“When you realize the situation you are in, you can resolve to do something about it,” said Leon Newman, president of the Fayette County Board of Education, regarding the board’s desire to improve all aspects of education within the county.
“When you overcome something mentally, you are on the way. Facts, numbers and figures tell all,” he added.
Superintendent Dwight Dials asserted, “We don’t want to take two steps forward only to take three back.”
Although some Mount Hope citizens are still not happy with the high school closure, both Newman and board member Leon Ivey said they can also feel a positive attitude change in the county.
For Ron Cantley II, director of operations, this positive push was evident in his report on school facilities. He would like to see a common and shared understanding of facility concerns that “manifests itself in action.”
“When I think of action,” he said, “I think about four things that are going to dramatically and quickly improve facilities.”
Cantley stressed making use of School Building Authority support, increasing efficiency, passing a bond and “working to model and instill a sense of pride.”
The school board is already at work on this list.
This week Dials and the board will meet with the School Board Authority to advocate for a new Mount Hope Elementary School.
Cantley noted, “The only way we can really get efficiency is doing what we did at Mount Hope.”
He then noted that fostering pride is essential to the care of county facilities. “If we give someone a new facility and they care for it like they are caring for it now ... we need to be a little offended and need to want better.”
He said he wants to be upfront without being offensive because his goal is to incite motivation to improve in all areas.
The highest-priority facility needs now are at Oak Hill High School and Collins Middle School, Cantley said, acknowledging that several projects within these schools will take a lot of time and resources.
Dials said one area of concern is the HVAC system and air quality.
Ivey said he would like to see a bond passed at each upcoming election.
“I think we need to tell the public that ‘Here is what we need to do. We can get better, but here is the bond so that we can get better,’” he said.
Dials agreed, “We have to educate our public as to what is needed and why.”
He noted the Transition Team expressed interest in getting involved in improving advanced academics throughout the county, an offer that excited him.
“Right now there is a lot of distrust in this county, but the greatest plan in the world will not come through if you can’t show some trust. We need a little bit of synergy and support, but at some point the problems, weaknesses and needs have to be obvious. Right now people don’t know; we need to do a better job of communicating,” he said.
Dials said the paramount issue is to be “good stewards of the public trust and public funds” and to continue “moving forward.”
After the meeting and without elaborating, Dials said several entities have stepped forward and expressed desire to pay for utilities, create programs and assist with the transformation of Mount Hope High School into a community center, an asset for students and families in the area.
At the meeting, the board also took a moment to recognize Nick Bainbridge as the Fayette County Geography Bee winner. Bainbridge is a seventh-grader at Ansted Middle School.