A Bryan Station High School teacher has told the Fayette County school board that the district's failure to provide enough resources for a behavior management plan meant that "disruptions, disengagement and acts of violence and aggression are far too common at our school."
Also, morale at the school is low because district officials haven't supported Bryan Station's efforts to become a school of innovation, Levi Evans said.
"Give us the resources to fully implement the solution," Evans told the school board last week.
Whether the district is doing enough to help Bryan Station is a question others are asking, including state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday , the NAACP and even some school board members.
This week, district officials updated the school board on their attempts to address the needs at Bryan Station and other low-performing schools.
Evans spoke to the board May 26, the same night the board, in adopting a $438 million tentative budget for 2015-16, set aside $620,000 to help Bryan Station and other low-achieving schools. An NAACP official said the amount wasn't enough.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday noted in a recent letter that a state diagnostic review cited for the second year in a row the district's lack of support for Bryan Station, the only school in Fayette County the state designates as persistently low-achieving.
Acting Superintendent Marlene Helm said Wednesday that she and board members John Price and Daryl Love planned to meet with Holliday and his staff to find out more about their concerns. ( Read the state review here.)
Board members Wednesday approved recommendations from senior administrative services director Kyna Koch on how to distribute the $620,000 to Bryan Station and the other low-performing schools.
Bryan Station High and eight other schools will get an additional staff position to focus on math, reading or English-language learners. In addition, all of the schools will get $10,000 each.
Bryan Station also will get $3,500 to address any findings that might result from an upcoming safe schools audit by the Kentucky Center for School Safety.
Koch said Wednesday that grant money also might be available for Bryan Station and the other schools. When the school board approves the final budget in September, Koch said, the board would have a list of the lowest-performing schools' unmet needs, in case additional money is available.
Price, the board chairman, has said board members also will look for money for low-performing schools in the 2016-17 budget, a process that could begin as early as December.
Evans, in his comments at the May 26 board meeting, said that investing more money at Bryan Station might mean making some tough choices. "But that is the equitable thing to do and the right thing to do."
In May, school administrators promised "serious" discipline after a student burst into a Bryan Station biology class to attack another student and was followed by a crowd of others with cellphones to record the incident.
Evans, who teaches English language learners, told the board that teacher morale and student conduct "are two very serious and related areas of concern."
"Both contribute greatly to the achievement gap" between low-income, disabled and minority students and other students, Evans said.
There are elements of a behavior management plan in place, and that might be enough at some schools, Evans said, but it hasn't been enough at Bryan Station.
The board needs to provide enough resources "to robustly implement" a behavior management plan.
"Half measures are not going to move the needle," Evans said.
Two years ago, he said, teachers, parents and students were excited to be a school of innovation and designed a new schedule to better meet the needs of diverse learners.
"Unfortunately, the momentum has stalled," said Evans. The people from the district who sold the school of innovation idea haven't "been seen much at Station."
The hope that parents, teachers and students could lead a new change is unfulfilled, he said.
"As a result, morale is very low," said Evans, who is the school's Fayette County Education Association representative.
Helm and school board members Doug Barnett and Love said Wednesday that they want checks and balances to make sure the help the district gives Bryan Station is working.
"We want to make sure that we are doing this in a very focused way," Helm said.