Casey Allen recently marked the start of his third full year as superintendent of the Ballard County school district, but that short tenure has seen a number of improvements around the district and a refocusing on the schools’ relationships with the community they serve. The district receives strong support from the small county of about 8,000 people, with large numbers of volunteers for programs and events and a great kickoff this spring for a new academic foundation.
Allen says that one of his core beliefs is that the power of a great teacher can overcome most obstacles in a classroom. That commitment to teaching and learning seems to be paying off. With just under 1,300 students, Ballard County offers a small-school culture with the rigor often associated with larger institutions.
In just the past year, college- and career-ready (CCR) numbers at Ballard Memorial High School have gone up almost 30 percent. In 2011-12, Ballard had 52.1 percent of its graduates recognized for CCR; in 2012-13, that number rose to 80.9 percent. Ballard Memorial High also was one of only two schools in the state to receive all 100 possible points for CCR in last year’s Kentucky Performance Rating for Educational Progress (K-PREP) assessment. With that, the high school became the first distinguished school in the district.
Ballard County Middle School has continued its performance as a proficient school, as well. Overall, the district has risen from being in the top 25 percent of Kentucky systems to the top 18 percent. The Ballard Career and Technical Center also was honored this year for being ranked first in Kentucky for the number of students enrolled who reached both academic and technical career-ready benchmarks, first in technical career-ready benchmarks and eighth in academic career readiness.
“We just keep reminding everyone that regardless of our roles in the district, every decision we make is about our kids. Our shared vision is for success for all students in all of our buildings,” Allen said.