State of Schools address prioritizes continued growth, commitment to excellence
Hartselle City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dee Dee Jones addressed district employees, stakeholders and community members at the State of the Schools address held this past week at Hartselle United Methodist Church.
Continued growth and commitment to excellence were two of the main the topics of the address, which was sponsored by Redstone Federal Credit Union.
“COVID got in the way last year of what I like to do. I’m excited to share with you what’s going on in Hartselle City Schools,” Jones said.
Students from the district were present for the “turn and talk” portion of the breakfast address. Jones said the method is a teaching technique often used in the classroom.
Marshall Reynolds and Lily Ward are fourth-grade students at Crestline Elementary School. They each talked freely about their favorite subjects. “We have so many curriculums and so many people at our school to be thankful for,” Marshall said. “I love STEM – science, engineering and technology – it’s all stuff that I love.”
“Mine is math because I love doing standard algorithms – I just think it’s fun,” Lily added. “I want to be a math teacher.”
Marshall said he has his eyes set on a career as an engineer or as a businessman.
Enrollment continues to grow district-wide, Jones said. HCS is up to 3,630 students, increasing by 80-100 students a year. The district has also doubled the number of employees who serve those students since 2017.
Financially, Hartselle City Schools has also seen a stark increase in its rainy-day operating fund. HCS has $9.8 million, or 3.42 months of their operating budget, in the bank. Sales tax in the City of Hartselle, as well as the simplified sellers sales tax paid by the city and Morgan County, have both increased by 11.64 percent and 37.41 percent, respectively, with the former benefiting the school district by $3.5 million, and the latter $363,000, annually.
Jones said the increase in revenue will continue to help the district move forward with other projects that are in the works, one of which is a new Crestline Elementary School.
Hartselle City Schools continues to lead locally and nationally in areas including academics, athletics and the arts artistically, Jones added. Hartselle High School has a National Merit semifinalist and more students in its 30+ Club this year than ever before – “58 students who scored a 30 or higher on the ACT this year,” Jones said.
“Some of our students are not going to make that, but they set a goal, and that is what they’re doing today at the high school,” she added. “As a ninth-grader, they’re taking the pre-ACT, so they can set a goal, get the score back and talk one-on-one with someone on how to improve.”
From art, band and theatre to academics, debate team and more, Jones emphasized inspiring and preparing all students for learning, leadership and life as a crucial part of the HCS mission statement.