Year in Review: Shenandoah schools saw changes

Shenandoah County Public Schools had an eventful year in 2015.

The School Board approved a new instructional calendar to begin at the start of the 2017-2018 school year, approved boundary changes to be completed by the start of the next school year, and approved a long-term facilities study to determine the future of the school divisin in the years to come. The board will also welcome a new member, Cyndy Walsh, who won the District 3 seat in the November election.

Major accomplishments for the system included Central High School a federal Blue Ribbon designation, receiving $100,000 in state grants to improve security at the high schools, and implementing project-based learning to get students more engaged in learning.

At the college level, Lord Fairfax Community College and Shentel formed a partnership to increase employment opportunities for students through internships and work-study opportunities.

But with all these successes and changes, a drop in student enrollment prompted a spending freeze as state funding is expected to be cut for the 2016-2017 school budget.

A new calendar

The School Board approved a new instructional calendar at its Dec. 10 meeting.

The new calendar will be implemented at the start of the 2017-2018 school year.

Students will start classes on Aug. 7 and will have a week off during the Shenandoah County Fair. The first semester will end just before Christmas break on Dec. 22, 2017. They will also receive a day off for Election Day. The last day of school will be May 25, 2018.

Boundary changes

School Board members voted to approve boundary realignment and a long-term study to alleviate overcrowding in the schools during their Nov. 12 meeting.

The cost of the boundary changes and the long-term study is $135,000, and it was approved by the Board of Supervisors during a work session on Dec. 3.

The School Board will use HBA Architecture & Design Inc. and DeJong-Richter as consultants for help in determining new boundaries and long-term plans for the school facilities.

Spending freeze

The drop in student enrollment prompted a spending freeze at the schools.

Student enrollment and state funding are linked — as enrollment decreases, so does the state funding.

The School Board has projected a worst-case scenario loss of $893,000 of funds from the state.

March 31 is when the school district will send updated enrollment figures to the state. This figure will impact the 2016-2017 school budget.

Blue Ribbon school

Central High School was one of only 12 schools in Virginia to receive a National Blue Ribbon School designation.

Central is the first school in Shenandoah County Public Schools to achieve this national recognition.

The school was recognized as an “exemplary high performance school,” placing it among the top-performing schools in regards to test scores and graduation rates, as well as student subgroup performance.

Cyndy Walsh elected

Cyndy Walsh was elected to the Shenandoah County School Board during the Nov. 3 elections. She replaces Kathryn Holsinger for the District 3 seat after Holsinger chose to not seek another term on the board.

Walsh ran against D. Roger Barbee and Steve D. Wood. Walsh won with 39 percent of the votes.

Project-based learning

Shenandoah County Public Schools began using a new instructional method known as project-based learning.

This teaching method allows students to gain knowledge and skills by spending an extended period of time investigating and responding to an engaging and complex question, problem or challenge.

Security

Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick county school divisions were awarded grants from the state to be used on school security equipment.

Shenandoah received the largest grant award of $100,000 to install security equipment at Central, Strasburg and Stonewall Jackson high schools.

Warren County Public Schools received $31,786 for security equipment at A.S Rhodes Elementary, E. Wilson Morrison Elementary, Leslie Fox Keyser Elementary and Ressie Jeffries Elementary.

Frederick County was awarded $6,520 for security equipment at Apple Pie Ridge and Stonewall elementary schools, and James Wood and Sherando high schools.

Each school division had to make a 25 percent match to receive the grants.

A partnership

Lord Fairfax Community College and Shenandoah Telecommunications Company formed a partnership to increase employment opportunities for students.

The two parties will work closely to provide jobs, internship opportunities and work-study opportunities for the college students.

The partnership agreement was signed Aug. 20. Cyber security and programming were expected to be the emphasis for this program.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com

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