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Letter, March 13, 2014

SCSD2 does a lot of good

Re: Allegations from Press

 

I am surprised by continued allegations of wrongdoing by the local press in regard to the SCSD2 Board of Trustees. As a Trustee for the last four years and a steward of public funds, I view it as my obligation to ensure that funds are expended appropriately and that the public gets the most value for their tax dollars in terms of public education.

For that reason, my last campaign platform centered on raising our graduation rate to 100 percent. Any review of the literature regarding the social and economic costs of dropping out will identify that these costs are tremendous and contribute in many ways to increased poverty levels in our community. When I was appointed to the board in 2010, our graduation rate was about 78 percent. I’m pleased to share that through focused efforts by our trustees, professional educators, administrators and community partners,we are vastly improved from 2010, and moving towards a higher percent. But we are still not satisfied, and we plan to take our graduation rate to the next level by strengthening our community alliances and implementing new programs.

How about other accomplishments by SCSD2 that reflect the value of your tax dollars? We are arguably the best school district in the state based on a variety of metrics. For example, state-mandated measures of academic success and student learning place us as number one in the state in nearly every category. Our alternative school had the highest composite ACT score in the entire state. We have two finalists from Sheridan High School as national merit scholars and 10 students who have received trustee scholarships to the University of Wyoming. Three out of five of our elementary schools have obtained “Blue Ribbon” status, an honor most recently bestowed on the Henry A. Coffeen Elementary School , presented by Sen. John Barrasso. Highland Park Elementary was also nominated for the same honor this year, and if they are awarded this recognition, will be the fourth of five.

Student involvement in our extra-curricular activities (a predictor of high school graduation) is at an all time high. Our “We the People” civic team just won the state title and is on to national competition. In recent All-State competitions for choir, band and orchestra, 55 of our students achieved appointments. The next closest school was Kelly Walsh, with 33 students. Approximately 45 percent of the Sheridan High School student body participated in activities this fall and winter, and the average GPA of those participating in fall activities was 3.5. In regard to our faculty, Mick Wiest from our alternative school is Wyoming’s “Teacher of the Year.” In a recent Board meeting and “teacher roundtable” reporting on work climate, feedback from faculty about SCSD2 was overwhelmingly positive. One of our many top notch principals was recently recruited by, and retained by Ohio State University, and many of our administrators are recruited by professional “head hunters” for higher paying jobs with greater responsibility. We clearly employ top notch professional educators and administrators who have an unwavering focus on student learning and achievement.

With so many positive things happening in SCSD2, it is clear that the public is receiving a good value for their tax dollars.We will continue to look for ways to improve our public schools through our community alliances and further enhance what is already a great place to live and raise families.

 

Hollis Hackman

Sheridan County School District 2 board member

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