Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) received updates on two counties currently under state intervention during its monthly meeting in Charleston today. County leaders from Upshur and Logan presented information on efforts to address issues detailed in the ongoing Special Circumstance Reviews.
The Upshur County review began in May 2023 after routine monitoring found significant findings and areas of non-compliance. The WVBE voted to intervene during its June meeting. Since then, Christy Miller has been named Upshur County Superintendent. Interim Superintendent Steve Wotring, who served for a brief transitional period, will continue in the county as a transition liaison and advisor.
West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) Accountability and Assessment Officer Jeff Kelley reported that the review continues with Department staff onsite regularly. The WVDE team is supporting the county’s new leadership to build more secure and sustained administrative and finance infrastructures. This will allow for the implementation of stronger processes that align with state and federal regulations and ensure the county system is protecting the needs of children and staff.
“We are still in the discovery phase, and we are finding a lot that needs to be addressed and corrected,” said Superintendent Miller. “We realize that we are planting seeds that require care so that our county can be the school system that everyone expects and that our children deserve.”
The Logan County intervention began in October 2022, after the WVBE determined it was necessary to address findings and areas of non-compliance found in the Special Circumstance Review. Logan County Superintendent Jeff Huffman explained that improved supports and processes have been implemented to address identified areas in Logan County. These include (among others):
- A variety of tools are in place to measure student progress in English and mathematics, and a team of administrators has selected an instructional platform to support student learning.
- Improved safeguards have been implemented to ensure the county’s virtual learning program is meeting all requirements and providing the proper supports for children.
- Efforts continue to improve the overall culture and climate of the school district and the evaluation process has been reviewed and revised to promote professional growth among employees.
- County board meetings and discussions are held in the open and board members are provided information about processes, protocols and procedures to be followed during the state of intervention.
- Training and guidance on required administrative and financial practices have been provided to ensure county operations are within state and federal requirements. Expenditures designated as unallowable in the review have been reimbursed to the appropriate federal accounts.
“There is no doubt that expectations are increasing. We have to ask more of ourselves if we expect more of our students,” said Logan County Superintendent Jeff Huffman. “We are dedicated to the hard work to address the areas of non-compliance and the findings because our children deserve our best every single day.”
Special Circumstance Review reports are available on the Accountability section of the WVDE website.
The WVDE Office of Federal Programs and Support provided the WVBE with a summary its monitoring of the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding. As with the rest of the country, county school systems in West Virginia received three rounds of federal funding during the Covid-19 pandemic including:
- ESSER I: $77,976,424.31
- ESSER II: $337,458,865.60
- ARP-ESSER – American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief Funding: $742,826,090.96
According to the report, the majority of ESSER I funds, which expired Sept. 30, 2022, were used in their entirety among West Virginia counties with .0395% required to be recovered or returned. Reasons for recovery ranged from overcharges to unallowable charges and costs. ESSER II funds expire Sept. 30, 2023, and ARP-ESSER funds expire Sept. 30, 2024. The report can be accessed via the July 12, 2023 WVBE event post.
The WVBE unanimously re-elected L. Paul Hardesty to a second term as president during today’s meeting. His tenure during the time of transition from the Covid-19 pandemic has focused on improving student academic proficiency in core subjects and ensuring counties are operating efficiently to support students, educators and staff. Additionally, Nancy White was re-elected as Vice President, and F. Scott Rotruck as Financial Officer of the Board.
State Superintendent of Schools Michele L. Blatt took the ceremonial oath of office during the meeting. She was appointed as the 34th State Superintendent last month and officially assumed duties on July 1, 2023.
The Board also placed Policy 5310 on review. It is being revised due to a legislative change in HB 2597. The inclusion of data and an explanation of the rating of “less than accomplished” will provide educators with information to support professional growth.
The policy can be reviewed and comments received on the WVBE policies page.
The next regularly scheduled WVBE meeting is 9 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2023, in Building 6, Suite 600, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, West Virginia.
For media inquiries, contact Christy Day, West Virginia Department of Education Office of Communications, at 304-558-2699 or Christy.Day@k12.wv.us.