This action came after an in depth report presented by McDowell County Schools staff to state board members during the WVBOE’s monthly meeting being held in McDowell County.
“McDowell County Schools have worked extremely hard to clean up their schools and increase student achievement,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “There is some work still left to do but I believe we can begin taking steps to return day-to-day activities back to the county board in at least a year.”
The West Virginia Board of Education seized control of McDowell County Schools in 2001, citing low test scores, shoddy school buildings and large numbers of uncertified teachers.
Under state guidance, McDowell County has made major changes in curriculum and personnel. New standards have been adopted for honor students, Advanced Placement classes have been added, a new auditorium was dedicated at Mount View Middle/High School and technology improvements continue. The county is currently building a new high school and elementary school, both expected to open their doors by 2009.
“McDowell County has been shown in a negative light for too long,” said McDowell County Superintendent Mark Manchin. “Our biggest challenge has been to develop a belief in ourselves. Now we know that success breeds success.”
Regarding Hampshire County, Superintendent Paine recommended to the state Board that Hampshire County Schools may be returned to local control within six months. Hampshire County Schools came under state control in 2005 after the state Board learned of questionable financial practices and hiring practices in the Hampshire County District Offices.
“We are making strides,” Hampshire County Superintendent Cynthia Kolsun said. “There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for the technical assistance from the West Virginia Department of Education. We are also gaining trust from the community. Our decisions are data driven and made in the best interest of the students.”
Since the intervention, Hampshire County has been working to resolve any financial discrepancies. In addition, no personnel grievances have been filed since the intervention. The county was also able to maintain a $1.2 million surplus, rolled over into the 2006–2007 school year.
“I am glad the West Virginia Board came into our county,” said Hampshire County Board President Bernie Hott. “Now I think we are on the right track. We have learned from the mistakes of the past and they will not happen again.”