Board mulls effect of failed accreditation

Shenandoah County School Board members discussed the impact of  failed accreditation at two schools during the board’s Monday meeting.

The School Board heard the requirements the Virginia Board of Education imposed on North Fork Middle School and W.W. Robinson because the two schools failed to be accredited.

School administrators have to develop a corrective action plan that is still being developed. The plan will spell out how they will improve student performance data. It is the responsibility of Superintendent Mark Johnston to be responsible for making sure the schools are putting the corrective action plan in place. Monthly updates are to be provided.

As part of a memorandum of understanding, the School Board and the superintendent are also responsible for implementing a professional development plan for all board members, the superintendent, and all relevant central office and building level staff.

The principals at both schools are required to:

  • Ensure implementation of the corrective action plan including essential actions from the academic review
  • Participate in technical assistance when invited by the Office of School Improvement Virginia in the Department of Education to support the implementation of strategies for challenged schools.
  • Implement actions and next steps resulting from technical assistance provided by state education staff in the areas of English and special education.
  • Establish a school improvement team. The principals will ensure that school staff establish and participate continuously in supporting school-level improvement efforts.
  • Use a school improvement planning process to develop, coordinate, track and report division and school-level improvement.

Board members heard from Barbara L. Stombock, Director of Finance for the district that the Shenandoah County Public Schools has a fund balance and a carryover of more than $1,031,468.

Of this amount, $583,571 is from the division’s special grants budget and $447,897 is the fund balance from the division’s operational budget. The operating fund balance is requested for one-time capital projects and if re-appropriated would go to a 2018 capital improvement project, such as for a new chiller at North Fork, considered a top priority.

The special grants budgets carryover when re-appropriated has to be used for the specific purpose of the grant.

The district will in January have to make a request of the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors to re-appropriate the money into the fiscal year 2018 school budget.

Board members said goodbye to members Irving “Skeeter” Getz and Katheryn A. Freakley who will not return to the board in the new year. Johnston presented them both with plaques.

Getz has been a part of the Shenandoah County public schools for 51 years. Getz started out as a school bus driver, advancing to eventually lead the department. He has been on the School Board for eight years.

“That level of service and commitment to the students and residents of Shenandoah County is very respectable and hard to imagine in this day and age,” Johnston said.

Freakley was a School Board member from Jan. 1, 2014 to Dec. 31, 2017.

In other matters:

  • School Board members approved the suspension of two students. Administrators refused to reveal details on the events that led to the discipline.
  • School Board members voted to refer a decision made on an unspecified complaint back to Superintendent Mark Johnston. Johnston refused to discuss details on the matter, which was referred to as a prohibited retaliation but said the schools investigated the complaint, made a finding and one of the parties involved appealed the decision.