School board discusses high school graduates, literacy rates

Community member Roy Livingston addressed the Carter County School Board during their monthly meeting Thursday evening, complaining the children graduating from county schools are unable to read, write or count.

“Every time you go out to one of these fast food places, where these kids are trying to work, they cannot make change, cannot give you back what the cash register tells them,” Livingston said.

When questioned, he said this was a problem he sees across the county.

“Any of you people know anything that you can do to try to help these kids?” he asked the board.

Superintendent Kevin Ward said Carter County has “dedicated teachers,” and said the school system does everything it can to get students reading at their appropriate grade level.

“A couple years ago, we started a literacy program, and […] teachers were using small-group instruction, working with this board and previous boards,” he said.

Ward said the program invested thousands of dollars into classroom libraries for this express purpose.

“I share some of the same concerns,” chairman Jerry Stout said. “It happened just last week at a McDonald’s. I do not think this is a problem unique to Carter County. I have seen this all across the state.”

In spite of this state-wide trend, Stout said he thought county schools are doing well with what they have.

“I do not know what else we can do,” he said. “I think the schools are doing a pretty good job, probably the best job they can with what they have.”

In particular, Ward pointed towards programs to get seniors prepared to enter the workforce.

“As we move forward, we would like to develop that partnership,” Ward said.

Livingston briefly asked the board if they regularly test the students on their reading and writing level, to which the board responded yes. The state mandates several required examinations a year for each grade level.

The school board will not meet in July, so the next budget workshop will take place Thursday, Aug. 8, at 5:30 p.m.

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