W.Va. Board Approves Innovation Zone Projects Across the State

January 12, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va.  – The West Virginia Board of Education voted Thursday to award $2.6 million to 11 schools and counties seeking to become School Innovation Zones.

The School Innovation Zone Act, adopted in 2009, encourages pilot projects at schools and county districts around the state. The law allows for waivers to certain state laws, rules and policies to give teachers and principals greater local control over the curriculum, schedule and staffing in their schools. Schools designated as Innovation Zones essentially become learning laboratories with the flexibility to try innovative teaching strategies. Some of the schools plan to use their grants for dropout prevention efforts while others will implement mentoring projects and expand reading programs.

The board approved funding for 11 projects:

1.    Putnam County: Buffalo High School, $300,000

2.    Raleigh: Independence Middle School, $300,000

3.    Marion: North Marion High School, $299,910

4.    Barbour: Barbour County Schools, $300,000

5.    Mercer: Bluefield High School, $154,391

6.    Wood: Wood County Schools, $300,000

7.    Kanawha: Kanawha County Schools, $290,779

8.    Cabell: Cabell County Schools, $300,000

9.    Braxton: Braxton County High School, $282,000

10. Greenbrier: Smoot Elementary, $50,000

11. Upshur: Union Elementary, $48,854

“Providing our schools with greater flexibility that becoming an Innovation Zone allows frees them to adapt to changing times and embrace new ideas and teaching strategies,” said state Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “Members of the state board and I look forward to the progress these new Innovation Zone schools promise to make.

Applications for funding were evaluated by a committee, which looked at many factors including creativity and innovation; staff commitment; parental and community support; sustainability; and potential for success.

For more information, contact the Office of Communications at 304-558-2699.