'It's exciting': Breathitt County Schools moved from state management to assistance

Published: Dec. 4, 2019 at 7:21 PM EST
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The Kentucky Board of Education (KDE) voted Wednesday to approve Commissioner Wayne Lewis' recommendation that Breathitt County Schools move to state assistance.

This will move superintendent and local school board authority from the commissioner back to the local board and superintendent.

"Of course it's exciting to see that you've improved and that you've moved our district in the direction you want them to go," said Breathitt County School Board Chairperson Ruschelle Hamilton.

No Kentucky districts remain under state management following this action.

The schools have gone through four or five audits in the past several years.

"They conducted over 212 interviews, they interview anybody from a board member, to an SBDM council member to people in the community. Parents and so forth," said Phillip Watts the Breathitt County Superintendent.

In August, the KDE team conducted a comprehensive management audit of the Breathitt County school district and based on the findings of that audit, Lewis recommended the district for state assistance.

“The district you are considering now for state assistance is a very different district from the one that went into state management. Dr. Kelly Foster’s leadership has been central to the progress of the district. Mike Murphy has done a fantastic job as the district’s state manager, and Superintendent Phillip Watts is more than capable and ready to take on leadership of Breathitt County School as the district leaves state management,” said Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who added that eight years ago Breathitt was truly a broken district.

"It's really not that big a deal to us. We're just going to continue doing what we're doing. We're going to continue to keep students first and we're just going to continue to work on our processes to make sure that we're making our students competitive on a global level," said Watts.

The board members are not looking at this move as a big change but look forward to having more local authority.

"We look forward to having our rights to vote and things back and to lead our district forward," said Breathitt County School Board Vice Chairman Albert Little.

The board members said they are focused on improving the curriculum and education for the kids.

They also wanted to stress they could have not made this move without the KDE's help and they look forward to continuing to work with them.

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