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Bazzell sworn in as superintendent

Dr. Mark Bazzell was sworn in as Pike County Superintendent Thursday afternoon and expressed thanks to the family and friends gathered at the Pike County Board of Education building for the ceremony.

"I'm excited about the opportunity to serve the children of this

county and I appreciate the support that I have received over the years," he said.

Bazzell, the assistant superintendent for the past six years, replaces John Key as head of the county schools and faces a full slate of challenges.

"I expect to spend the first few months getting settled in, but I want to reevaluate our instruction at all levels, which includes curriculum, programs, applications and budgets, to make sure that we are getting the best bang for our buck," he said.

Those bucks will be few and far between as state educational leaders predict a new wave of proration in coming years that could leave local schools slashing programs and freezing salaries.

"For the rest of this fiscal year, things don't look too bad and the rainy day fund will get us over the hump," Bazzell said. "But coming years is where there is much concern."

Bazzell said he would be "frugal" with funds and watch county finances carefully.

He also said he hoped to improve the image of Pike County schools and make structural improvements to county facilities.

"We want to make sure that we have clean, neat and attractive schools where students enjoy coming to our campuses and parents know that they are safe."

Stephen Stetson can be reached at stephen.stetson@troymessenger.com.