State Board Of Education Sets a Two Year Timeline to Return McDowell County Schools

February 11, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education voted Thursday during its monthly meeting to accept a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with McDowell County Schools to return the school system to provisional local control.

“McDowell County educators, students and parents have worked extremely hard to address problem areas,” said state Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “By July 1 of this year, I expect that all facility, personnel and policy issues will be corrected. Ultimately, we hope to return full control of the school system to McDowell County within two years.”  
As part of the MOU the state superintendent of schools shall maintain control over all personnel actions in the county and all facilities matters including financial decisions; specific timelines will be identified for the goals in the areas of facilities maintenance and cleaning, improvements in the personnel office, revisions of county policies, and continual instructional improvement in identified schools; the McDowell County Board of Education will receive training and support from the West Virginia School Boards Association; and the McDowell County school system will work with the state department to improve student achievement in the county school systems.
Previously, an Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) review team found that McDowell County Schools made progress in finance and curriculum development and the local board was working cooperatively in support of the schools.
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, and 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.

At the conclusion of the first year of the provisional return to local control progress will be reviewed to determine whether the county school system will continue into the second year of the provisional return. The OEPA will continue to monitor and observe the county’s performance and will conduct a full audit of the county at the conclusion of the two year period to determine its overall performance and progress in addressing the deficiencies noted in previous reports.

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Communications Office at 304-558-2699.

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