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Education

January 7, 2013

Schools to focus on safety, academics

DUNCAN — Academics and student safety are among the improvements school districts throughout Stephens County are hoping to advance in 2013.

As a person might set New Year’s resolutions, area superintendents know what goals they want to work toward for the new year – and their focus is landing on what’s best for the students.

Duncan Superintendent Sherry Labyer said there are always ways to improve, and Duncan Public Schools is no exception. While she wouldn’t call it setting resolutions, she said there are goals she wants to see the school district as a whole to accomplish.

“I think resolutions are overrated,” Labyer said. “We want to look for opportunities to improve.” She said she has certain areas that require more attention than others for 2013, and the No. 1 idea is to aim for student success in the classroom.

“I want us to have a focus on academic student achievement and the safety of our students,” Labyer said.

Duncan Public Schools won’t be the only district focusing on academic success this year. Empire Public Schools’ superintendent, Vicki Davison, said she wants her district to improve academically  this year. She said it’s easy to hope for better test scores, but she wants to go beyond that.

“We’ve got a lot of goals,” Davison said. “Curriculum has been a big push for us. We want to improve education for Empire students. We want them to have the best education they can have, whether it’s new technology in the classrooms or new textbooks.

“We’ve really been looking at every aspect of curriculum.”

She said there are plans to add more advanced curriculum for college-bound students at Empire High School and there are plans to help students pick a career pathway so their high school years can work toward a desired career.

This means the school is continuing to work closely with Red River Technology Center and Cameron University-Duncan.

“Curriculum is everything,” Davison said.

For Velma-Alma Public Schools, the primary focus is security, also among the goals of Duncan and Empire school systems.

Velma-Alma Superintendent Jerry Garrett said the V-A School District has already started making changes to increase student safety. Locks have been changed throughout the campus and all classrooms are locked during the school day.

“We’re tightening up everything,” Garrett said. “With weather, we have a radar; we don’t have radar on a shooter.”

He said the safety of Velma-Alma students is his primary concern and the district is working with the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office to find ways to enhance safety procedures for the school campus.

“I really don’t think there’s a safe place in America,” Garrett said. “But school has to go on.”

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