FAIRMONT – The upcoming school year is a milestone for Randy Farley.
In addition to it being his first serving as superintendent of Marion County Schools, newly implemented regulations in the state legislature have changed some requirements of schools across West Virginia, and Farley is in charge of leading the district in making updates.
“It’s going to be nice, I think we’ve planned a lot,” Farley said. “We’re just trying to figure out how all this will work; there is a lot to decipher.”
Luckily for Farley, the West Virginia Department of Education put together a legislative checklist for the administration of schools statewide to follow for a simplified view of the updated regulations.
Some of the points brought up by the department in the checklist include protocol for extra trainings, changes to faculty and staff duties and the updated pay rates for school employees.
“It’s quite a lengthy list,” Farley said. “But this is helpful to us, just so we know what we have to check off here.”
“Several things in here are things for us to do as professional development,” Farley said. “There are several where they have increased the kinds of training that folks have to have and how often that training has to occur, that is a problem for us.”
While the checklist makes it easy for
superintendents and the school boards to keep track of bill requirements, it will be difficult to fulfill some of them in an economic and timely manner, according to Farley.
“When you only have a certain amount of time available that the staff meets outside of being with the students, then when do you cover all these things?” Farley said. “There are only so many hours in the day, there are basically three days placed in the calendar for it, and there is more information to be covered than there is time to do that.”
Time is one resource the administrative offices of the schools have to be careful with to complete the checklist, but money is always a factor when it comes to updates as well. However, Farley said there could be some positive changes as the result of bill indications, for example, the Fresh Food Act, which requires counties and schools to purchase a minimum of five percent of its fresh produce from in-state producers.
“According to our child nutrition director, she said that’s not a real easy find,” Farley said. “So we’re trying to look at ways that maybe we can do anything more at our Tech Center and purchase from our own kids in the simulated workplace. I don’t know how much we can extend what we have in the agricultural sciences, but it’s something to look at, whether we can purchase our own locally.”
The five percent pay raise that was included in the Omnibus bill will be implemented as well, with another parameter on salary supplements being another factor on school administration. Farley said the language of the bill indicates that certain school personnel will be eligible for a supplement, which the central office will figure out in time.
Recent events in the nation have also caused the creation of new updates for schools, in particular, the safety of students and teachers, which will also require training sessions that involve students as well.
“They’re increasing things they think we need to do about safety,” Farley said. “Now we’re adding active shooter training. Because of the way things happen different in society and the environment, we sort of change what we do in the safety programs.”
Farley also commented on the prospect of charter schools in the county, the approval of which was fought by many school employees in Marion County throughout its legislative run. He said that the restrictions on their implementation coupled with knowing that most people are against their creation lead him to believe the start of charter schools in Marion County is unlikely.
“There’s very little talk about it here,” he said. “If anybody really wants to do all of the amount of work it takes to do that, we’re going to see it happen very slowly if at all.”
As summer winds down and students get prepared to return to school, Farley said he will take the bills one step at a time, and complete every update on the checklist as the administration comes to them.
“We’re just going to implement these things as we can,” Farley said.
For a complete summary of education bills passed in 2019, visit wvde.state.wv.us/legislature.