County School Superintendent Cynthia Kolsun provided an update on financial and personnel issues in Hampshire County. Recent financial audits indicate that Hampshire County has an "audit with no findings." Two years ago, more than 40 violations were reported following a financial audit of the school system.
"I became superintendent four months ago during a time of turmoil," Kolsun said. "But thanks to administrative staff, teacher and school board support, we have mapped out a successful future. We believe that we have the expertise to clean up our school system with the assistance of the state Department of Education. We will end up being one of the premier schools systems in the state!"
In January 2006, the West Virginia Board of Education intervened in Hampshire County Schools following a recommendation by the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA). The OEPA told the Board that financial and personnel problems still existed more than six months after the Board first declared a state of emergency in the Hampshire County School System.
"Ms. Kolsun has done an excellent job," said State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. "She has had to make some difficult decisions regarding personnel and finances but her leadership skills and talent for bringing together an entire community have proven effective. There may be a few more bumps in the road but the Hampshire County School System is headed in the right direction."
Hampshire County has revamped financial and personnel processes to ensure compliance. In an effort to remedy a financial shortfall, Hampshire County Schools has trimmed its budget by $1.2 million.
"I support teachers 100 percent so one of the most difficult jobs thus far has been reducing staff by 40 positions," Kolsun said. "Unfortunately, that number may increase if the community doesn’t approve an upcoming school levy."
Hampshire County has also updated its administrative guidelines, placed all school policies online, conducted staff development training and conducted research on ways to retain and recruit teachers.
"Our doors are always open," Kolsun said. "It is important that the community understands that we have no hidden agendas."