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Ballard's Allen on State Position, School Start-up
By Bill Hughes
LA CENTER - The Superintendent of Ballard County Schools says the district hasn't yet decided on in-person classes, and also discussed how he is representing his colleagues in a state-wide position.

Dr. Casey Allen was elected to a one-year term as President of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents. He said it's a professional organization, and he is basically their spokesperson on public issues. 

Allen said, "You're a spokesperson for school districts across the state, and get asked to speak, in terms of advocacy, on policy decisions and things of that nature."

He said KASS members work together to create a list of legislative priorities each year, and he doesn't really have an agenda as he takes the leadership reigns. 

"It's hard to speak in the role and not bring in the fact that I'm from far-western Kentucky and leave those experiences behind, but ultimately the role is to be an advocate for all Kentucky schools and all Kentucky school superintendents," Allen said. 

However, he said there are some issues that become part of the conversation each year, including school funding, state revenue, and school pensions - especially in the last few years. 

Allen said the Ballard County School Board has not yet decided how they will respond to Governor Beshear's recommendation that schools not hold in-person classes until September 28. 

"Monday night is our board meeting, and if it hasn't happened by then, it most definitely will happen by then," Allen said. 

He acknowledged that things are in flux across the state, with lots of communities that want their kids to go back to school for in-person classes. He said Wednesday was supposed to be the first day of classes, so August 26 was their second start date. 

Allen said, "I think some districts are considering going ahead and trying to have in-person classes. It's what some people in our community want as well, and so our board members are elected by the community. That's why we are giving it adequate thought and trying to decide what is the right thing to do for our community, taking into account all of the information that we have, and it just so happens that some of that information is the governor and the department of public health saying they would prefer that we not do that."

He said superintendents and school boards who are dealing with the governor's recommendation may feel stuck in the middle.

Allen said board members are getting feedback from the people who elected them, with some saying kids should be sent to school.

He said, "Then we're given a recommendation from our governor - who is also elected in the role he's in and by the populace - and it's his opinion that we shouldn't go back to school. So, certainly someone is going to be in the middle on that, and it appears to be us this time."  

He said he has been listening to parents and teachers, and the district has received lots of electronic communication from citizens. He said he has personally responded to every message he received.

Allen said, "Sometimes, the more input you ask for, sometimes the harder the decision you make, but I want all the stakeholders to feel like they've had an opportunity to be heard. We're listening and we're hearing a lot of different things."

On Tuesday night, Williamstown Independent School District in northern Kentucky voted to begin in-person classes on August 26. They are reportedly the first school district to defy the recommendation, and it remains to be seen if any further action will be taken by the governor or other state officials. Allen said it will be interesting to see how this situation evolves. 

Published 08:44 PM, Wednesday Aug. 12, 2020
Updated 08:54 PM, Wednesday Aug. 12, 2020

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