Kemper Schools Meeting Challenges

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June Wright, superintendent of Kemper County Schools, said the challenging year ahead will be met one step at a time.

In the job for seven months, Wright has already been faced with the biggest budget crunch in years.

"It looks like to me, the legislature wants to close the doors on public education. It has been devastating," said Wright. "It cost us $208,000 to pick up the teacher pay raises and insurance for our employees."

Wright said if the legislature does not change its ways, it will soon see the consequences.

"We cannot continue to do this," the superintendent said. "The impact is going to be felt in every classroom. Every student is going to feel the difference."

Kemper County is not only facing budgetary problems, but major challenges in the classroom. Superintendent Wright and teachers agree that test scores must go up and the dropout rate must go down.

"We are a level 2 in this school, at this time," said Kemper County High School principal Melvin Willis. "Hopefully it will increase, our scores, and be at another level. We're working for a level 4."

In order to change that, Wright said they are using a grant to equip classrooms with laptops. They are also participating in the Student Progress Monitoring System suggested by the state.

"The teachers are going to be able to plug in each student, immediately know their strengths and weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths and minimize their weaknesses," Wright said.

Facility-wise, things are looking up, according to Wright. The three schools will receive new roofs this year, and while Kemper will struggle monetarily, most districts will.

Wright remained very optimistic.

"I am very optimistic, very optimistic. Maybe I am living in a devil's paradise," she said.

Either way, Wright said she knows that attitude is everything.