Welcome to Harrison County Schools!

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 

- Nelson Mandela

 Welcome Back!

On behalf of the Board of Education, our staff and myself, I want to welcome everyone to the Harrison County School District for the 2018-19 school year. The start of a new year is exciting as we have spent the summer preparing for the new school year. We look forward to sharing new learning experiences with each of you. Our first day for students is August 9, 2018.

Administrators and teachers spend a great deal of time during the summer preparing for the upcoming year. This contributes to what we know will be a smooth opening. Summer is also a time for our faculty members to focus on their own learning – something they do not have as much time for during the school year when the emphasis is on teaching our students. This summer, faculty and staff engaged in workshops, training courses and other sources of professional development. While improving student achievement is an important part of our mission, we know it is essential to focus on the social and emotional needs of our students as well.

I cordially invite you to visit our schools and see the wonderful things that are happening there. Our district employees go above and beyond to ensure the children of Harrison County have an appealing, clean, and safe environment for learning. We want you to share in our students’ achievements throughout this school year. Our entire team - teachers, support staff, and administration - is excited for the educational opportunities that await our students this year!

As we embrace a new school year, there is excitement about the potential it holds. I am honored to be a part of the educational endeavors in Harrison County Schools. It is my privilege to work with such a great group of people who continually strive toward being a “Model of Opportunity” for every student in this district!

Feel free to contact me any time at (859) 234-7110, or via email at andy.dotson@harrison.kyschools.us

March 23, 2018

As we continue to serve the children of Harrison County, we are blessed to work with so many wonderful and dedicated people. So far this year we have had Entrepreneur Nights, Family Literacy Nights, Engineering Days, STEM activities, academic meets, numerous athletic contests, school musicals, state music assessments, agriculture events, speech events, and other activities; all which have provided outstanding performances by our students. Some have been recognized with awards or championships. All of our students are bettered by their participation. A great big "thank you" goes out to all our staff that does so much for our students each and every day. 

March 16, 2018

Much appreciation goes out to our educators who spend time pursuing and writing grants in an effort to capture additional funding to benefit our students and schools. The hard work of these grant writers has been rewarded with the following “good news” this week…

We were so pleased this week to receive news that both Northside and Westside Elementary Schools were recipients of 21st Century Community Learning Center Grants. These are sizeable, five-year grants (each school slated to receive $150,000 for 3 years/$125,000 for the 4th year/$100,000 for the remaining year) that will provide before-school and after-school academic and enrichment programs to our students. The purpose of these grants is to “provide academic, artistic, and cultural enrichment opportunities for children…This funding will be used to provide students with homework assistance, and a broad array of activities that can complement their regular academic programs while also promoting youth development; and to offer literacy and other educational services to the families of participating children.” Harrison Memorial Hospital is the co-applicant on the Northside grant, while Maysville Community and Technical College is the co-applicant with Westside. Our school district is also glad to partner with the following community organizations in delivering these grant-funded programs: Cynthiana/Harrison County Library, Wedco, First Responders, Harrison County Extension, FRYSC, 3M Company, Kentucky Bank, Harrison Memorial Hospital, Arts Council , and Soil Conservation.

 Equally exciting is that Harrison County High School is a recipient of a $25,000 R.C. Durr Foundation grant that will provide funding for the FFA program to promote increased crop production along with a reduction in fossil fuel usage. Plans to purchase a drone with this grant award are also included.

 Big congratulations are in order for our schools as we anticipate the great things this means for our students!

February 23, 2018

Safety is a top priority for the Harrison County School District. All of the schools in the district, as well as the board of education, have reception areas with safety glass and locked doors as a first line of defense. Lockdown drills are an important part of being prepared. The state requires two such drills each year at every school, but the reality is they are held much more frequently. Classroom doors are locked during the day, and access to the building is controlled by a person who visually identifies every visitor before they are allowed entrance to our buildings.

The district works very close with the Cynthiana Police Department and the Harrison County Sheriff's Office. Constant communication is key in the effort to improve school safety. When word of an actual or potential threat is made, law enforcement, the district office, school security and the school(s) associated with the situation communicate with each other until the issue is resolved. 

Sometimes a tip comes from the schools to the law enforcement agencies. Law agencies notify the schools. A tip can also come from the community. No matter where the tip comes from, all tips are looked into very thoroughly. 

If a situation arises, law enforcement officers are always ready to respond within minutes if needed. On top of that, officers make routine visits and walk-throughs in the schools. The interaction officers get from these visits makes a huge difference. Building a rapport between law enforcement and the people they protect - in this case students and staff - helps to identify potential issues. 

Officials are constantly looking at other tools to use to improve safety. If a new idea or suggestion is proven to be effective in improving school safety, it is put in place. It is the ultimate goal of all three groups to make schools as safe as they can be. 

School safety is everyone's business. Community members need to be a part of the solution. If anyone has a concern that needs to be reviewed, please contact the Police Department at (859) 234-7100 or the Harrison County Sheriff's Office at (859) 234-7135.

The school system also has resources for parents and community members. The Harrison County Board of Education office, (859) 234-7110, is one place to voice concern. The district also has anti-bullying programs in place. The anti-bullying hotline, available for voice or text, is (859) 588-8081, and the Safety Tipline Online Prevention (S.T.O.P) program is accessible through the district's website - www.harrison.kyschools.us. Just click the S.T.O.P. icon.  

Suspicious concerns could be something posted on social media, a conversation overheard by you or your child, or anything that gives pause for concern. When in doubt, contact the authorities. All threats and concerns are thoroughly investigated.

February 16, 2018

Decision Method for Weather Related School Closings

Harrison County Schools, like several of our neighboring districts, serves both a town and rural population. There’s approximately 175 miles of roads in Harrison County according to the Kentucky Department of Transportation. Of those 175 miles, there’s a primary system of around 32 miles encompassing the town of Cynthiana, leaving 143 miles of secondary or rural roads. Harrison County buses travel approximately 2100 miles each day on regular routes, because Harrison County ranks among the top ten districts in Kentucky for having the most county road mileage.


Much like the many roads that weave through our county, weather patterns take their own routes creating great variance in road conditions from one end of Harrison County to the other. As you may imagine, this creates quite a dilemma for school administrators when inclement weather occurs. 

When bad weather is in the forecast, the “wheels start turning” for decision makers in this school district. There’s quite a process, involving several key players, when school officials are faced with an impending weather situation.

The weather is always monitored through the National Weather Service. There are actually weather conference calls, or live chats, with regional superintendents and a National Weather Service Warning Coordination Meteorologist within the Louisville area of responsibility. 

There’s nothing like first-hand knowledge, so to that end, our assistant superintendent and transportation director actually drive the county roads around 4:00 in the morning. In addition to the road inspections by the assistant superintendent and transportation director, other individuals living in parts of the county that are prone to bad weather check their road conditions and report their findings to the transportation director. Many of these locations involve the more remote areas with narrow, winding roads and steep drop-offs.

Smart phones and merged calls are great tools for our weather monitors as they share photos and videos of weather conditions as they occur. A surprise or two is inevitable at times when a person in the north end of the county is standing in ice and snow, while an individual in the south end is experiencing nothing!

In the meantime, our superintendent is monitoring up-to-date weather radar, speaking with our district officials, and communicating with superintendents from the counties that border us. After much communication, and based on all information gathered from the National Weather Service, local officials, weather spotters, and actual road inspections, the district attempts to make the final decision to cancel school by 5:00 AM. Sometimes bad weather presents itself around that 5:00 AM time frame or later, so decisions are made the same way – with information gathered from all possible resources regarding the day’s weather outlook. When the decision to cancel school has been made, our District Technology Coordinator will send an “All-Call” to parents and staff along with a text message. The closure is also posted on media outlets.

After the first missed day, additional resources are utilized to determine if school should be called off an additional day. District administration may contact county and state road departments, or local law enforcement, to check conditions. Multiple factors dictate the safety and rate of road improvement on certain roads in our county. While some roads may be clear, others aren’t. The frequency of travel on the impaired road and the degree to which a road was treated are just a couple of factors. Sometimes icy, low hanging limbs are a risk to buses on roads with increased overgrowth.  

Within the boundaries of Harrison County, there are many areas and roads that are affected very differently by the same weather event. Ultimately, this school district is responsible for the safety of nearly 3,000 students and nearly 500 employees. First and foremost, the deciding factor in canceling school is the safety of ALL our students and staff. We would much rather err on the side of caution instead of tragedy. We consider it a privilege to serve the students of Harrison County Schools.

February 9, 2018

February 5-9, 2018 marks the 2018 National School Counseling Week. This year’s theme is “School Counselors: Helping Students Reach for the Stars.”  It is hard to measure the extraordinary impact and contributions of our school counselors. Harrison County Schools can’t imagine our students without them!! Thanks go out to our tremendous counselors this week, and every day!  Happy School Counseling Week!


If you happened to check out January’s “Kentucky Teacher” publication you would have noticed a fellow Harrison Countian.  Harrison County ATC’s Business Program, and teacher, Amber Florence, were the topic of a feature article. You can read the full story here: http://www.kentuckyteacher.org/features/2018/01/business-is-booming-at-harrison-county-atc/ 

We’re proud of the fact that the program was showcased as a best practice at a recent Kentucky Association for Career and Technical Education summer conference. Congratulations to Ms. Florence, the students, and Harrison County ATC for the great things that are happening!! 

January 12, 2018

Check out this photo...

It’s a snapshot of board minutes from July 1967. Five years prior, the city and county school systems had just merged, making Harrison County High School the only high school in the district. A year later, in 1964-1965, Eastside Elementary, Northside Elementary, Westside Elementary and Harrison County Junior High Schools opened. The Junior High School became Southside Elementary in the 1977-1978 school year when a new Junior High was built. In 1987 the Junior High School’s name was changed to Harrison County Middle School, and housed sixth grade students for the first time. Sixth grade had been a part of the elementary schools up to that point.

Board proceedings haven’t changed much in 50 years even though financial statement amounts have! Our local board of education is made up of dedicated individuals taking the time to come together as a team to govern our school system. These elected community members, then and now, are tasked with the responsibility of providing the best education a county can afford while shouldering the fiscal responsibilities necessary in maintaining a school district.  

We salute our board members for caring about children enough to make a difference in their lives by serving on the Harrison County Board of Education.  

January 5, 2018

Meet the Harrison County Board of Education! January is School Board Member Appreciation Month, and we would like to thank our five board members for their hard work and dedication to the students of Harrison County. From the National School Board Association…"the most important responsibility of a school board is to work with their community to improve student achievement in their local public school. Complying with state and federal laws, school boards establish policies and regulations by which their local schools are governed. Some of the top responsibilities of our school board are to:"

·       Employ the superintendent

·       Develop and adopt policies, procedures, curriculum, and the budget

·       Oversee facility issues

If you see Mary June Brunker, Kristy Carey, Gary Dearborn, Ruth Hatterick or Ed Taylor out and about, please wish them a Happy Board Member Appreciation Month!

December 1, 2017

Significant Dates for Harrison County Schools 
(1) December 15, 2017 - 1/2 day of school (Dismissal at 11:30)
(2) December 18-29, 2017 - No School - Christmas Break (
Note: December 18th and 19th will be used as makeup days if we miss another day of school before December 15th.)
(3) December 19, 2017 - Special Board Meeting at 4:00 pm at Central Office
(4) January 1, 2018 - No School - New Year's Day (Holiday)

(5) January 15, 2018 - No School - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Holiday) 

November 17, 2017


Have you every thought about donating blood, but never followed through, or are you a person that has donated blood before and want to donate again? Either way, if you are interested in donating blood, you have an opportunity to do so on December 9, 2017 between the hours of 9:00 am and 3 pm at Cynthiana Walmart. Just look for the Kentucky Blood Center (KBC) Bloodmobile in the Walmart parking lot, and roll up your sleeve for a great cause. All donors will be entered in a gift card giveaway, and they will also recdieve a t-shirt and a drawstring backpack. Staff members, and non-staff friends, of all four elementary schools and HCMS can compete by donating in the name of their school of choice. The school with the highest percentage of donors will receive a gift card as well. You can even schedule the time of your blood donation at kybloodcenter.org. Please consider donating blood, for the above school of your choice, on December 9th between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm at the Bloodmobile in the Cynthiana Walmart parking lot.

November 10, 2017

At one of our recent board meetings, board members were commending our teachers for their willingness and extra effort in pursuing available grants. At almost every board meeting, there is a request to apply for a classroom grant. Our staff is fervently seeking funding sources to enhance our students’ learning environment. Assuredly, this is not a mandatory requirement for our teachers, but, nonetheless, our staff goes the extra mile in trying to acquire resources to benefit our children. From local to national grant opportunities, our educators are out there each day putting in extra time for the benefit of all children. I want to personally thank each of you for going the extra distance on behalf of your students. Harrison County Schools’ personnel are second to none!!!  

November 3, 2017

At our October 24th board meeting, our Board of Education, on behalf of Harrison County Schools, was very pleased to present “Partner in Education” plaques to the Cynthiana Police Department and the Cynthiana Fire Department. Harrison County Schools is very fortunate to have an outstanding working relationship with the first responders of Cynthiana.  The Cynthiana Police Department, under the leadership of Chief Ray Johnson, and the Cynthiana Fire Department, under the leadership of Chief Jay Sanders, continually go the extra mile in providing excellent care for the students of Harrison County.  The Police Department continues to provide, excellent support during ball games, graduation, and in various times of need.  The Fire Department has provided excellent building inspections over the years to ensure the safety of our students, plus they have been there to offer support during graduation ceremonies and facility emergencies. These two organizations sponsor contests for our elementary students, and they visit our elementary schools on Career Days and other times throughout the school year educating our students on safety, and informing them on how to respond in emergency situations. In September, Harrison County was paralyzed by a gunman.  Both Chief Johnson and Chief Sanders kept our school system informed throughout the day, so Mr. Dotson and his team could make the best decisions possible to insure the safety of our students. A great big “thank you” goes out to both departments for their continued support of Harrison County Schools.  

October 27, 2017

This week at our board meeting we had a fantastic presentation by some of our FFA students. Our board members also shared many student accomplishments through our Good News portion of the agenda. This happens frequently at our board meetings, and we truly enjoy seeing firsthand the great things going on in our schools! We never cease to be amazed at all the tremendous achievements occurring with our students. Harrison County Schools have outstanding students taught, encouraged, and supported by outstanding staff. From classroom instruction and involvement in extracurricular clubs, to sports, our students are reaching new heights. Our excellent staff instills a desire for children to not only succeed, but to outperform and surpass expectations. I want to personally extend my gratitude to all of you for what you do each and every day. No matter the shaky ground we’ve been standing on recently regarding our pension future, you continue to provide a rock-solid foundation to our students. It’s to be admired, and it’s definitely appreciated! 

Our board meets the 4th Tuesday of each month, at 6:00 pm, here at Central Office. If the regularly scheduled meeting date needs to be changed, the meeting then becomes a “special” board meeting. The meetings are open to the public. The next two meetings of the year will be held on November 28th and December 19th. Everyone is welcome!

October 6, 2017

At the September 2017 board meeting, 3M Plant Manager, Eric Opland, was presented with a KentuckyColonel commission by State Representative Mark Hart. 3M has been a longtime supporter of Harrison County Schools. From the early days of overhead projector donations, to thousands of pounds of Post-It notes and Scotch tape donations, to grants for teachers and students, to projectors, and 3D computers, 3M has been a wonderful partner with Harrison County Schools.Just recently Eric Opland was instrumental in helping Harrison County Schools receive a $15,000 STEM grant to help us with the Governor’s initiative of emphasizing Early Childhood Education in our communities.

Also, at our last board meeting our Board Chair, Kristy Carey, presented a “Partner in Education” plaque to the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department. Harrison County’s Sheriff Department has been a longtime friend in supporting the students of Harrison County.They have completed hundreds of walk-throughs in our schools, helped develop safety plans, responded to emergencies, helped with crowd control at graduation and special events, and continue to review parts of the county to make sure areas are safe for our buses to run.The Sheriff’s Department communicates with Superintendent Dotson and Assistant SuperintendentCase on many matters that may be a concern for the students of Harrison County. Just recently, the DARE program has been reinstated in our elementary schools. Sheriff Shain Stephens has begun teaching the classes to our 5th grade students. This program will hopefully give our students another tool in their toolbox to help them understand the harmful effects of drug usage. A huge thank you goes out to Sheriff Stephens and his entire department for their help in making Harrison County Schools a safe “Model of Opportunity” for the students of our community.

October 5, 2017

Earlier in the year we shared with you the three areas of focus for our district this year per our board of education. At Tuesday night’s board meeting we received the following updates from administrators:

 COMMUNICATION – Since August 1st, there have been 150 “All Calls” made to parents and staff. 108 of those calls were attendance related. We receive feedback that says our community appreciates this service as a form of communication. It was particularly appreciated on September 11th when our schools went on lockdown. Facebook and Twitter were also utilized that day to keep parents and the public informed. Harrison County Schools actually received a complimentary “shout out” that evening on the news from an LEX-18 reporter for the district’s situation` updates via Facebook and Twitter. The district plans to continue the use of our community calls, and we will be exploring additional options to keep everyone connected.

ACADEMICS – We have already administered the newly mandated Civics Test at our high school. The board approved the question content and 643 tests were given to freshmen, sophomore, and junior students with a 93.8% pass rate on the first round. This test was also given to seniors with Social Studies electives and they earned a 95.4% pass rate. Harrison County is one of the first districts in the state to begin testing students Every high school student must pass this test in order to graduate, but they have the opportunity to take it multiple times.

ATTENDANCE – The Kentucky Directors of Pupil Personnel sponsored High Attendance Day on September 20th. The theme for encouraging student attendance this year is “Engagement = Attendance.” The emphasis is on every staff member to play a role by creating a welcoming and engaging school environment that motivates students and their families to show up at school. Several attendance incentives were initiated this month by principals such as – “Wear Sunglasses to School” Day, “Eat Lunch with Your Principal” Day, and teachers vs. students contests to include “Duck Tape Your Principal to the Wall.”  

Grandparents Day is nationally recognized on Sunday, September 10th, and Harrison County Schools is pleased to celebrate the wisdom, joy, support and care giving that grandparents bring into the lives of our students. In honor of grandparents, each elementary school is hosting either a breakfast or lunch along with other activities. With family structures ever changing, many grandparents are taking on the role of primary caregivers/legal guardians to our students. 

Harrison County Family Resource and Youth Service Centers has planned a support group meeting for grandparents and other relatives that are raising children. This meeting is open to any families who are involved in the primary care giving of their grandchildren or relatives. The meeting will be held at the Harrison County Extension Office on September 26th at 1:30 pm. There will be door prizes and light refreshments served. For more information call 234-7160.

Forget-Me-Nots.....the official flower of Grandparents Day

August 18, 2017

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year in Harrison County Schools! If you are a new employee, we wish you the very best as you start your career in our district. To all our staff members, I thank you in advance for your commitment to serve our students this year. During our opening day breakfast and assembly, I was so impressed with the fine team of people that make up Harrison County Schools.  With a combination of experience and enthusiasm our staff has so much to offer to our students’ education.

During a recent work session, our board members determined three focus areas that I want to share with you as we start this new school year – academics, attendance and communication. We’ll seek continuous improvement in these areas as the year progresses.

I wish everyone a successful school year, and please contact me if I can be of service to you.

“Don’t put a limit on anything. The more you dream, the further you get.”

Michael Phelps (most decorated Olympian in history; 23 titles and 28 medals!)  It is interesting to note that Michael Phelps started swimming at age 7 in an effort to direct his excess energy after being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.  This just serves as a reminder that when faced with a roadblock – stay positive and find a way around it. You never know where it will lead you!