Schools to repair faulty water main

WOODSTOCK — Following a fourth water main rupture at Signal Knob Middle School over Easter weekend, Shenandoah County Public Schools will use roof replacement funds to fix the water main this June.

Maintenance Supervisor Eugene Dykes told the School Board at its Tuesday night meeting that his decision came in part because of the school district’s $1.8 million in funding needs.

The $22,000 will be taken from a fund to replace the roof of the district maintenance building, he said. The need for a new water main is greater.

“We have asked for funding for this on a number of occasions,” he said. “As you know, we’ve never been able to get that.”

He said the district has been lucky that the water main keeps breaking when students aren’t in the building.

“I’m fearful that next time, we won’t be that fortunate,” he said. “I can almost assure you that.”

Repairs are anticipated to begin June 15, he said.

Dykes also mentioned key points from the quarterly maintenance report. All outer doors to schools have been re-keyed for security upgrades, and the district has been successful in reducing its energy imprint and water use over the last year.

The board announced that expedited retakes for elementary students will begin earlier than previously thought. Initially, the process was to take effect after July 1 for the 2015-16 school year.

Students who fit criteria for retaking their math or reading Standards of Learning tests this spring will have the option of trying again, said Superintendent Jeremy Raley.

The expedited retakes approved by the Virginia Board of Education will allow children in grades three through eight similar allowances that high school students have had for 15 years.

Still, although it may help certain students, Raley wondered about the merits of offering more chances for young children to take standardized tests.

“We don’t want to keep testing kids,” he said.

SOL tests can last up to four hours, he said, and a retest is no assurance of a better grade the second time around.

“Is it in their best interest to take that again?” he asked the board.

The Board of Education issued the option for students who score between 375 and 399 on their test, below a passing grade of 400. But school districts may determine for themselves the extent to which they participate, and Raley said county schools have decided to offer the option for those scoring between 390 and 399 on math or reading only.

Students with extenuating circumstances for missing or failing the test may also have the option of retaking the test, he said. Parental consent will be required.

A public hearing to discuss the county budget and tax rate for the 2016 fiscal year will be at 7 p.m. Thursday at W.W. Robinson Elementary School in Woodstock. The next School Board meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 14 at the county building, 600 N. Main St., Woodstock.

Contact staff writer Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com