The vote during the board’s meeting Thursday in Greenbrier County follows recommendations by the Office of Education Performance Audits, which conducted an announced review Jan. 18-21. The team found that Hampshire County and its schools “had made substantial progress and improvement in alleviating most of the original findings of noncompliance and achievement” and recommended the state board begin the process of return control back to the Hampshire County Board of Education.
“Hampshire County Schools have worked extremely hard to address the problem areas,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “Decisions are being made in the best interest of the students.”
The West Virginia Board of Education intervened in Hampshire County in January 2006 after an OEPA audit found that financial and personnel problems still existed more than six months after the board first declared a state of emergency.
The board then hired Cynthia Kolsun as Hampshire County superintendent. Since then, Hampshire County has worked to resolve any financial discrepancies and no personnel grievances have been filed. The county also was able to maintain a $1.2 million surplus that rolled over into the 2006–2007 school year.
Once the transition back to local control is complete, Kolson will assume a position with the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) in Charleston.
“I am ready to help with the implementation of the 21st Century High School Project,” said Kolsun. “This is an exciting venture for me as West Virginia is a leader in high school reform, and I want to play a role in this renaissance.”
“Ms. Kolsun brought years of education experience and strong leadership skills to Hampshire County,” Paine said. “She had to make some tough calls of which we approved every move. But we missed her in Charleston and she has agreed to come back to the Department.”
Kolsun began her teaching career in Florida and served as a counselor in West Virginia for a number of years. Her counseling program at the Randolph County Vocational Technical Center was named as an Exemplary Program of the Year. She is a former president of the West Virginia Vocational Guidance Association, former president of the West Virginia Career Development Association and a former member of the Executive Board of the West Virginia Personnel and Guidance Association. Kolsun taught in the psychology department for 12 years as an adjunct instructor for Fairmont State.
“We would not be here today if it weren’t for Ms. Kolsun,” said Hampshire County School Board President Bernie Hott. “Her leadership has been tremendous.”
Kolsun will remain in Hampshire County until July. Meanwhile the local board will begin the process to find a new county superintendent with the assistance of the WVDE.
“Hampshire County has the capability of becoming one of the best school systems in the state,” said Kolsun. “The present Hampshire County Board of Education can provide the leadership for the county to move forward. It has been an honor to assist this system.”