As we move forward in the spring semester of the 2019-2020 school year, I wanted to update our community on recent calendar changes for this spring, celebrate the accomplishments of our students and staff, and communicate plans for combating challenges for our district in the near future.
Due to the amount of severe weather this winter, the 2019-2020 Hardin-Central calendar has been impacted greatly. Below, you will find the changes that have been made to the calendar thus far. (The extent of that impact has changed greatly from the point of when this letter arrived at the newspaper. More than a dozen lines had been committed to revisions in the district’s schedule. All of them had to be erased, due to the closure of schools forced due to concern about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19.)
Also, although we are not yet out of danger for winter weather impacting school, I hope that these will be the final changes for this spring.
It is the goal of the Hardin-Central School District to continue to offer an outstanding public education and maintain our place as one of the topperforming small districts in the area. Our Annual Performance Report for Spring 2019 was an outstanding 98.6%, and we experienced growth in our ACT score average and college placement for graduating seniors. For the last two years, our student attendance rate has been well above 95%. While these numbers and state rankings can fluctuate, as a district, we work hard for and are always proud of these academic accomplishments. We also recognize that there are many “qualitative” experiences and opportunities that can’t be measured by these standings that prepare students for the world beyond our walls.
Among the most impactful of these experiences at Hardin-Central is community service. At all levels, students and staff annually dedicate hundreds of hours and devote their passion and energy to local and global efforts. In the last two years, our students and staff have honored local veterans during an annual all-school FFA Veteran’s Day service, helped pack sandbags for two other nearby communities during rising flood waters, attended state and national student organizational meetings, collected resources for redistribution to less fortunate families and the elderly during the holiday seasons, collected shoes and other needed items for those in need, volunteered at Harvesters distribution center, and student-led presentations on anti-impaired driving and anti-vaping/ smoking campaigns.
Our talented teachers and staff are doing great things in and outside our classrooms. We have recently seen a great percentage increase in enrollments in graduate courses by our staff. In the last two years, two of our staff members received recognition as the Richmond VFW Post 4398 Outstanding Teacher of the Year honors. Our elementary teachers have devoted themselves to the Data-Teams and the NWEA process of recognizing students’ strengths and weaknesses, and tailoring their classroom instruction to address those needs. We have high-achieving secondary staff who often lead by example in academics, including a two-book published author in our English Department. We have several teachers and coaches who volunteer their time before school and during off-seasons to help students and athletes improve their skills.
Around the state of Missouri, several small and rural schools are having to make difficult decisions based upon student enrollment numbers and state funding declining. At Hardin-Central, our enrollment decline has been minimal over the last five years. We have been fortunate to continue and even grow our academic and extra curricular programs, while maintaining a very healthy fiscal budget. Recently, we have made several facility improvements throughout campus for student use and safety, including new restroom facilities, fire-rated doors and frames for our classrooms, a new press box for the football stadium, and completion of our three phases for the roof on our buildings. Our school board has continued to dedicate funds and resources for those ongoing projects, such as classroom renovations and classroom assessment tools. Although we have made great strides for improving our district’s facilities, we know we have much more work to do in the areas of parking lots, security lighting, playground surfacing, and sidewalks and entryways.
When I began in the district in 2016, there was a definite need for alternative educational upgrades. Since that time, we have added over 40 course offerings through our Launch online program, including credit recovery; redeveloped our technology infrastructure to support substantial tech upgrades, such as one-to-one technology for our elementary students and radius servers for online security; increased our partners and options for dual-credit courses; and established the Google Classroom platform for online resource access. Other needs included attracting and retaining quality professional educators by being competitive with surrounding districts in salary and benefit packages. This is a need that I feel is a tremendous priority to address this spring.
Planning for future learners and continued success at Hardin-Central continues to be the goal for the Hardin-Central School Board and administration. This effort continues to require judicious and conservative budget planning, as well as understanding student needs and learner outcomes. We strive for excellence in the classrooms, on the playing fields, in our student organizations and clubs, and the community we serve. Our goal is to prepare students for their future endeavors. In order to keep up with these ever-changing times, we are constantly looking to the future to address student needs and how we can better prepare our learners for the waiting world. Our goal is to make sure our students are college- and career-ready when they walk out the doors at Hardin-Central that final time.
I am grateful to the community for its steadfast support for students and the school. Like student success, this support can be measured through several indicators, like tax dollars and property values, attendance at school events and the turnout for local elections. Most important is your continued belief in and commitment to providing opportunities for children to learn, lead, achieve and serve. Thank you for your continued support of our schools.