W.Va. Board of Education Takes Steps to Return Local Control to McDowell Co. Schools

January 13, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education voted Wednesday to return some control of McDowell County Schools to the local board. The vote was based on recommendations by the Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA).

“Good things have happened in McDowell County relative to gains in organization and accountability in the elementary curriculum,” said OEPA Executive Director Kenna Seal. “Compared to the November 2001 OEPA report, the situation in McDowell County is much improved but problems still remain in some areas.”

An OEPA review team, which conducted a follow-up audit in November 2009, found that McDowell County Schools made substantial progress in finance and curriculum development and the local board was working cooperatively in support of the schools. However, since deficiencies remain in personnel, facilities and policy development, those areas will remain under state control.

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. The state board immediately restricted the authority of the local board in the expenditure of funds, the employment and dismissal of personnel, the establishment and operation of the school calendar, the establishment of instructional practices and rules.

Under state guidance, McDowell County has made major changes in curriculum and finances.  Advanced Placement classes have been added at all high schools, a new auditorium was dedicated at Mount View Middle/High School and technology improvements continue. The county also has opened a new elementary school and is building a new high school. Improvement plans also include intensive professional development to further enhance student performance.

“We are fine tuning the areas of concerns in McDowell County and honing in on areas that need additional support,” said state Superintendent Steve Paine. “Overall, we are very proud of the work done by the county board, the superintendent, teachers, students and parents in McDowell County.”

Since the early nineties, the West Virginia Board of Education has intervened in seven districts: Grant, Hampshire, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Preston counties. Control of Hampshire and Logan counties has been returned to their local board and partial control has been returned to Lincoln County.
For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Communications Office at 304-558-2699.  

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