- Associated Press - Thursday, October 9, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Grant County is in full control of its school system for the first time in nearly five years.

The West Virginia Board of Education voted Wednesday to give Grant County’s school board control of personnel and oversight. The state previously had restored the county’s control of curriculum, policies, facilities, transportation and the school calendar.

County Superintendent DeEdra Bolton, who was appointed by the state, will remain in the position until June 2016, the West Virginia Department of Education said Thursday.

“It’s a proud day for Grant County Schools and we’re thrilled that the West Virginia Board of Education has faith in us,” Bolton said.

Bolton said the county has focused on increasing student performance and attendance, reducing the dropout rate and increasing students’ use of technology.

The county also has improved school facilities and implemented a free breakfast program for all students.

“And there’s more work to do. The key piece is the laser-like focus on students, student achievement and student wellness,” Bolton said.

Grant County’s schools had been under state control since November 2009, when the state board intervened following an audit that found problems with curriculum, personnel and leadership.

The state audit said the county had failed to make annual progress under the federal No Child Left Behind law for math and reading. Other educational indicators, like ACT and SAT scores, also showed declines.

It also revealed that the county’s policies were not up-to-date, teachers were not properly trained or informed prior to program changes, several teachers lacked lesson plans for their courses and school buildings lacked equipment or needed to be upgraded. Also, the county’s personnel director position was vacant, causing issues with personnel procedures and hiring practices.

“Since the intervention, the county has worked to address many of the issues, including irregular actions by the county board and violations of state code and state school policy,” the Department of Education said.

Should any of these issues arise during the next five years, the state could intervene again, the department said.

The state has intervened in several other counties in recent years. School systems in Fayette, Gilmer and Mingo counties remain under the state’s control.

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