By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
The Marion County Board of Education met Tuesday morning at Muriale’s for its annual retreat.
At the retreat, central office personnel spoke to the board about their respective departments.
Randy Farley, administrative assistant, curriculum and instruction, said the work in curriculum and instruction is centered around a set of quality standards for schools: a positive climate and cohesive culture, school leadership, standards-focused curriculum, instruction and assessments, student support services and family/community connections, educator growth and development, efficient and effective management and continuous improvement.
Farley said some of the current initiatives within curriculum and instruction include moving forward with the West Virginia Next Generation content standards, getting all students on reading level by the third grade, expanding the Reasoning Minds math program, working with the three schools in the county that have been designated as focus or support schools (East Fairmont Junior High, Blackshere Elementary, and Rivesville Elementary and Middle School), preparing for standardized testing in the spring, and more.
Board member Janet Crescenzi expressed concern over the emphasis that is being placed on testing in schools and the professional development that is necessary to train teachers on new standards and testing formats.
“I’m afraid I see that there’s less and less time for actual instruction,” Crescenzi said. “If we can’t give time to our teachers to teach, I don’t know what we’re going to do. All of the testing we have to do is taking away from our teaching.”
Farley added that a major educational goal is to ensure that all students are college and/or career ready upon high school graduation.
Board president the Rev. James Saunders said he wants to make sure equal attention is given to both post-secondary paths.
“I know we’re working on the college part, but I want to be assured that we’re also working on the careers part as heavily,” he said. “We want to know the students who aren’t going to college are getting as much attention to get them career ready.”
Treasurer for Marion County Schools Kim Wade also presented information to the board.
Wade said one concern is the impact that the Affordable Health Care Act will have on the board of education.
“It may not cost us anything, or it may cost us a bunch of money,” he said. “We just don’t know at this point.”
Superintendent of Schools Gary Price said measures will be in place to make sure insurance is provided to eligible employees as required by the Affordable Health Care Act.
“We have to keep track of everyone, even if they’re an assistant coach and they don’t do anything else for us,” Price said. “We have to keep an accurate record of the hours that they work for us during the year.”
Wade also presented detailed information regarding the budget. Wade said the total fund balance is $8,021,612. Of that, $4,743,607 is unassigned.
“This is not a huge amount of money,” Wade said.” We’re finally getting up to where we should be.”
Price said he and the board will discuss and consider options for how to spend that money.
Jean Hinzman, Title I director, Gia Deasy, special services director, Chad Norman, technology director, and Andy Neptune, administrative assistant, human resources and student services, also reported to the board on their departments’ progress and goals.
Crescenzi spoke on behalf of the board and acknowledged the central office’s achievements and success.
“It’s so evident how all these people at the central office are collaborating with each other,” Crescenzi said.
Email Kaylyn Christopher at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.