Dr. Mark Bazzell gives update on Pike County School System

Published 1:54 pm Thursday, April 18, 2024

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On Thursday, April 18, Pike County Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Bazzell stopped by the Troy Exchange Club to give an update on the Pike County School System.

Bazzell said that financially, the Pike County School System is in good shape.

“The state requires you to have one month reserves and we’re at about 1.66 months in reserves,” Bazzell said. “We’re in real good shape financially right now. Our bonded debt is somewhere around $12 million, which is very good for a school system our size.”

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After the recent completion of the new Banks Elementary project, Bazzell said that the school system is targeting a few new projects. He said that the school system just opened bids for phase one of the upcoming athletic complex at Pike County High School. The full, completed complex will see Pike County High School construct a new baseball field, softball field, soccer field and a regulation track on campus.

After the completion of that athletic complex, Bazzell said that the school system plans to convert the old gym at Goshen High School into a new art facility and band room. He said that there are also plans to either renovate or construct a new home side at the Goshen football field.

Bazzell also discussed the safety initiatives the school system has taken.

“We run about 200 surveillance systems in our schools,” said Bazzell. “They have facial recognition capabilities and we hope in the next year to double the number of surveillance cameras we have.

“We’re also putting in vape detectors in our restrooms and key places. Those detectors are also sound detectors to help alert the school administrators and other key people to an increase in noise levels in certain areas, so we can see what is going on.”

Bazzell said that the school system has also instituted new threat assessments this year.

“Every time a kid says something that raises concern, it comes to us and it goes through a process and we determine whether a kid is a threat or not,” he said. “All of those things are preventive on the front end.”

Bazzell also said the school system would be reevaluating its position on cellphone usage by students.

“We’ve worked very hard to do everything we can to teach our kids to be responsible users of technology but it has gotten to the point where cellphones are interfering with instruction,” said Bazzell. “So, we’re going to take some steps to try and reel some of that in.”

Academically, Bazzell is pleased with where the school system currently is, post COVID-19 pandemic.

“I will tell you that I am pleased with where we’re at. This is the first year since COVID that I feel like we’re back where we were pre-COVID,” Bazzell said. “There was a learning loss associated with (the pandemic), it was real and it showed up in the data. We used our COVID money to identify those kids that most needed help and we run an extended school day to 4:30 or 5 p.m. for those kids we targeted.

“We also run regular school in the summer time for the kids that needed help the most. We’ve been trying to mitigate the impacts of COVID and last year was the first year where we saw it kind of heading in the right direction and I think the preliminary data shows we are headed in that right direction now.”

Bazzell said that Pike County Schools has been working towards getting STEM accreditation for nearly a decade and that the school system is now on the verge of becoming the first in the state to be STEM accredited system wide.

Dual enrollment is also a big focus for Pike County Schools, according to Bazzell. In the 2022-2023 school year, 83 students are working toward an Associate’s Degree as apart of dual enrollment in either Troy University or Enterprise State Community College. A total of 70 Pike County Schools students are also seeking certificates at either ESCC or LBW Community College.