- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A state commission has recommended changes to West Virginia’s public school system to allow counties to better focus on student achievement.

A report released Monday by the Commission on School District Governance and Administration recommends shifting some of the counties’ managerial duties to the state’s eight Regional Education Service Agencies. The change would require a restructuring of the regional offices, which help counties in their districts apply for grants and provide technical support. Their duties also have included training staff.

“There are no plans to eliminate the state’s 55 county school system structure but we are looking at ways to be more efficient and effective,” West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin said in a news release. “For example, could county systems save money by merging administrative duties like finance and human resources? The money saved could go back to the classroom.”

Marshall County Schools Superintendent Michael Hince said state officials should consider how the proposed mergers at the regional level would affect the public.

“This would all depend on what you’re merging,” Hince told The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register (https://bit.ly/1zEkxyv). “On the state and county level, if you merge duties and responsibilities you affect taxpayers as well as local bonds and levies.”

Ohio County Schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo said she does not foresee any issues with the possibility of future mergers.

“We are collaborating with RESA 6 on a daily basis and are able to meet their needs as well as our own,” Vargo told the newspaper. “A few of (our) shared resources include the substitute employee system, computer technology and areas of professional development focusing on next generation initiatives.”

She said the greatest challenge is meeting each student’s needs and personalizing education.

“The collaboration between our administrators and faculty will continue to enable student success,” she said.

Department of Education spokeswoman Liza Cordeiro told the newspaper that several recommendations would require changes to policies and procedures, which would require public input.

Cordeiro said the state board will review the commission’s report.

The board established the commission in 2013 in response to a request from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to study the governance of the county school systems.

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Information from: The Intelligencer, https://www.theintelligencer.net


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