Warren schools see smooth start

FRONT ROYAL – After the first three weeks of school, Warren County School Board members and Superintendent Greg Drescher noted an overall smooth transition and an encouraging start for students and schools coming into the 2015-2016 year.

The Thursday night School Board meeting was the first regularly scheduled meeting since the first day of school on Aug. 17. All action agenda items for the meeting were passed unanimously, including the addition of an early childhood education position and some infrastructural developments.

Attendance numbers increased at every Warren school since classes began, bringing total numbers from 5,131 on the first day to 5,338 on the 17th day. This number still falls short of the 5,394 students enrolled in Warren K-12 classes during the 2014-2015 school year reported on the schools’ website.

Although Warren County Public Schools boasted SOL division scores last year that in most cases were higher than state averages and averages of the seven surrounding counties, Warren County Middle School principal Alan Fox analyzed a few of the schools’ weak points.

The county’s overall eighth grade writing passing average of 57 percent fell noticeably short of the statewide average of 72 percent and surrounding county average of 67 this year. Fox identified problem areas and suggested writing be emphasized across subjects and throughout the lower grade levels to form a strong foundation

STEM coordinator Justin Maffei gave a demonstration of how to unpack the various learning standards in school subjects by isolating and graphing out the various components of standards into yearlong teaching goalpoints.

Director of Elementary Instruction Lisa Rudacille told the board that because of an increase of enrolled Virginia Preschool Initiative students (at-risk 4-year-olds) and early childhood special education students at Ressie Jeffries Elementary, adding an instructional assistant to the staff would benefit those students on many levels.

“We generally serve about 45 children in preschool through VPI … so we don’t have enough to add an additional teaching position, but the addition of the instructional assistant would certainly be helpful,” Rudacille said.

The $22,928 that needs to be allocated, for the position will come from the VPI grant.

Melody Sheppard, assistant superintendent for administration, presented two contracts for continuing school facility operation.

The first contract continued Data Business Systems’ food service point of sale system at all schools for $17,579  out of the food and nutrition services budget. The system has been in place at the schools for 13 years and Sheppard said many parents use it to remotely monitor their children’s eating habits, add credit and submit applications for free and reduced price lunches.

The second contract will use $28,811 of the maintenance budget to pay Chesapeake Controls for installing an upgraded Tridium HVAC system at Warren County High School. The current malfunctioning Tridium R2 system is obsolete and would have been unrepairable.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com