'School of Innovation' plan developing
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

The Hope Public School District Board has developed the broad outline of a proposal to create an in-district “school of innovation.”

HPSD Superintendent Bobby Hart relayed a draft proposal of the concept to the Board at its January meeting, saying that it is time for the district to consider changing its instructional model. Hart said the proposed “school of innovation” will be a pilot project for the district that will incorporate an open-enrollment school in grades 5-7 the first year and include grades 5-8 in the second year.

He said the model acknowledges the fact that the HPSD is a district in which 83 percent of its students qualify for free and reduced federal meals programs.

“When we talk to parents and students that left our district, one thing they tell us is they had an option,” Hart said.

He said the HPSD wants to create an innovative instructional model that will resolve that concern and produce that option within the district. He said the concept has been developed by teachers and administrators within the district.

“Where we are breaking down is in the fifth to eighth grade area,” Hart said.

He said the outline proposal which he provided to the board seeks to address that break down with innovation in instruction, parental involvement, and teacher/administration expertise.

“We want to guarantee that when you graduate, you are on the right track for college or a career,” Hart said.

Part of that goal includes building specific expectations into individualized learning plans for each student that spell out the components of each student’s education, while maintaining student, teacher and parent accountability and support resources across all grade levels involved.

He said a general goal for students in the program is attaining a score of 19 or better on the American College Test by their 10th grade year.

“It’s time for us to step up and not continue doing what we have been doing,” Hart said.

Ideally, he said, the model can become a blueprint for the entire district, at best, for those students, teachers and parents willing to make the effort to bring about fundamental changes that can be built upon.

“I need your input,” Hart said. “If it is not what you want to do, shoot it down and tell me how to change it.”

He said that he, other administrators and principals will travel to Helena next week to study the KIPP school model and the Warren School District innovation school model.

“Hopefully, this is a direction we all want to take,” Board President Joe Short remarked.