Schools Want More Control Over Day-to-Day Matters

Members of the Ohio County Board of Education believe West Virginia counties need more local control over day-to-day school matters, and made their thoughts known during a special meeting Friday to discuss issues from the recently released state-wide Education Efficiency Audit.

The Education Efficiency Audit is a central topic at the 2013 state legislative session in Charleston. Board Member Christine Carder stressed the state department should set the standards for schools, but the methods in which teachers and schools meet those standards should primarily be discussed at the local level.

“We are the most regulated state in the nation,” Carder said. “The teachers don’t have the freedom in the classroom to teach what they have to teach. The state department of education interprets policies and writes the regulations and then we’re required to follow the regulations, but sometimes those regulations strangle.”

Superintendent Dianna Vargo said the board especially hopes to see the state give counties more flexibility in its school calendar at the legislative session to allow schools to fit in the 180-day requirement as needed for individual counties.

“We had our local legislatures come in recently and we talked about the flexibility for the school calendar for the community and the county,” Vargo said. “I know there’s been some discussion about the calendar so we hope that flexibility is given to the local schools.”

John Jorden, human resources director, presented the board with two options for the 2013-2014 school calendar that both meet the requirement of 180 days of instruction, allow for flexibility for weather delays and have first semester exams scheduled before winter break, a popular change from the 2012-2013 school year.

The calendars are available for public discussion until they are taken to the board for a vote March 25.

Jorden said it does seem Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will give counties flexibility with the school calendar and forgo the suggested year-round calendar after his State of the State Address last week.

The board also stressed the importance of keeping regional education service agencies (RESAs), stating the county depends on the services of RESA 6, including training for teachers in various areas and service for the schools’ computers. Carder explained RESAs are currently receiving contention from the state, but stressed a RESA can be very useful and effective if run correctly.