Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Opinion

May 24, 2014

OUR VIEW: Caverna must heed warnings of audit

GLASGOW — The ongoing review into the state of Caverna Independent Schools is yet another sobering moment for the district community. An audit of the school system released recently by the Kentucky Department of Education was pointed in its commentary about Caverna’s overall health, and auditors specifically questioned the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Sam Dick, citing a number of apparent deficiencies in his performance. It was the second consecutive audit singling out the superintendent’s leadership of the district.

Dick told the Daily Times this week that he agreed with some – but not all – of the findings, and he emphasized that the auditing team only saw a “snapshot” of the district during a three-day visit in February. Dick expressed no concern about his employment status.

Board of Education Chairman Dr. Sheldon Ballou gave little indication of what the board’s eventual response to the audit might be, saying board members are still parsing the document.

It could be July before discussions begin in earnest, a month before another academic year begins, seemingly too late to conduct a search for new permanent leadership, should the board determine change is necessary.

Both Dick and Ballou highlighted the improvements the district has made since an audit two years ago included similar findings. Test scores and college- and career-readiness metrics are up, and the district is in better financial shape, Ballou said. These important steps are worthy of praise.

The question now before the school board and the entire Horse Cave and Cave City community is whether that progress is enough. Multiple audits in recent years have identified significant problems in the district, and the rate of improvement is sluggish at best. While Dick has absorbed the brunt of auditors’ criticism, the findings are a reflection of overall district leadership, which we hope devotes serious discussion and effort to shoring up the school system’s shortcomings.

What are the expectations? We hope Caverna’s families feel compelled to voice their desire to see more from the district, and the elected school board should feel a responsibility to be good stewards of the education of their community’s youth. Whether those things are happening now is open to interpretation but obviously in question: One bad audit is one thing, but the pattern of consistently documented struggle is quite another.

If Caverna hopes to be a vital and viable educational entity for students in the Barren-Hart county area, we think it’s past time for leaders and parents to take real, focused ownership of the district’s future.

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