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Shelby County Public Schools: Shelby’s ‘worst’ facilities good on state’s standards

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Technology scores are extremely high

By Todd Martin

The Kentucky Department of Education this week released its first school facility assessment scores, and the Shelby County schools included in the survey held up well.

The report, required by 2010's Senate Bill 132, focused on the condition and educational suitability of 484 schools in the state that were ranked lowest in the state’s last such study.

Five schools from Shelby County fall within that range, and none was ranked in the bottom 100.

The five Shelby schools and their individual ranking, with 1 being the worst school, are: Southside Elementary, 120; Wright Elementary, 218; Shelby County High School, 229; Heritage Elementary, 286; and Simpsonville Elementary, 464.

Southside, already in the planning stages to be replaced, is scheduled to be removed from the evaluation by 2014.

The scores were figured by weighting 75 percent on the condition of the school, 20 percent on the suitability of the school and 5 percent on the school's technology score.

The scoring scale for the schools is from 0 to 100. Simpsonville had the highest score with an 87.4, and Southside the lowest with a 51.9, the rest of the schools scored between 61 and 66.

In relation, the 50 schools with the worst scores were all between Adair County's John Adair Intermediate School's 26.03 (worst) and Oldham County's Liberty Elementary School's 42.18 (50th).

Nine schools scored between 26 and 30.99, but most schools scored between 51 and 70.99. No schools scored 100, but two scored over 98 and 15 over 90.

The report, however, is more for the legislature than it is for the individual districts, Shelby County Superintendent James Neihof said.

"I understand the legislature's need to identify the schools that need the most help, and I support that," he said. "But for us as a district, this report really means very little."

The idea of the report was to rank the schools based on the current school standards set by the Kentucky Department of Education. The project assessed physical condition, educational suitability and technology readiness of the schools based on Kentucky's regulations and standards.

"The report tells us exactly what our District Facility Plan says," Neihof said. "Since Southside was built in 1957, it was built to existing standards. Standards have certainly changed since that time, like classroom sizes.

“It doesn't mean that any of the schools are not safe or functional. It just ranks them on how they rate against today's standards."

The Shelby schools struggled most on the condition score, while all the suitability scores were between 73 and 85, except Southside's suitability score of 68.9.

However, in technology the district scored very well, hitting 95 at Heritage, Simpsonville and SCHS, 90 at Wright and 85 at Southside.

"We expected that the results of the technology scores would be very positive," Neihof said. "One thing we've worked very hard on, and it goes back before my time to Dr. [Leon] Mooneyhan, is that whatever the technology standards are for a new school, we try to meet that standard in all our schools."

Neihof did note that the only reason Southside does trail slightly is because the district officials decided to hold off on technology upgrades at the school last year, when they had adopted a plan to replace the school.