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Position Paper of the Franklin City School Board

Published 10:33am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

According to VA Code 22.1 -71, the local school board constitutes corporate power. Therefore, I would like to take a few minutes to present to our Board a special Position Paper for edit, approval, or disapproval. First, I thank school board members and staff for the smooth opening of school for the 2013-14 school year. There has been so much appreciation expressed by parents for the enthusiasm of staff. Being we work with students, we must do everything that we possibly can do to maintain an environment that is conducive for learning and nothing supersedes the warmth and concern that are demonstrated by teachers in our classrooms.

There were Academic and Licensure Reviews conducted by the Virginia Department of Education in the Franklin City School Division during November 2012 and March 2013. The DOE teams based their findings on files from 2011- 2012 and 2012-2013. In education, students’ ultimate success is determined through their passage from pre-kindergarten through grade 12. We can not contend that past experiences from grade to grade do not impact a child’s achievement. The movement toward warning status for our schools, as many schools all across this country, began with the implementation of educational reforms through “No Child Left Behind”. Let me assure you that no member of this current Board has spoken negatively about the SOLs.

Dr. Belle and I received the results of the Licensure and Academic Reviews that were done by the Virginia Department of Education in June 2013, after our School Board meeting. Copies of the results were mailed to all of the school board members. They were asked to read them for the planning of our Retreat of August 5th. As a result, at our July meeting on July 18,2013, the school board members (in open session) identified the information that we wanted staff to bring to our Retreat. This is documented in the attached minutes.

The Tidewater News called and said that the results had been forwarded to them by an anonymous person. All of these actions may have been unrelated, but I do feel a need to share a few things about where we are in turning education around in our city. Many things started before the reviews, because some of us knew that we were not complying with Virginia Code. As noted in the results of the reviews, the Superintendent was not cited for code violations. The School Board was.

Throughout 2011-12 and 2012-13, the School Board implemented many initiatives for the improvement of our schools. Some of these are noted below:

1. Increased the emphasis on the Standards of Quality in decision making. A copy of “Virginia School Law Deskbook” was purchased for each school member. Mr. Taylor Williams discussed how to use the book.

2. Improved the involvement of school board members in the hiring and firing of employees. Prior to this, the Board operated under the premise that it only hired the Superintendent. Therefore, the Board received no written documentation on new hires/fires.

3. Requested in 2011 – 12 that the newly hired Director of Resources implement strategies to reduce the attrition rate. Requested data to determine the turnover rate of teachers 2006 – 2013. It showed the following:

2006-2007 53%

2007-2008 25.4%

2008-2009 22.9%

2009-2010 18.5%

2010-2011 23.7%

2011-2012 17.2%

2012-2013 17.6%

4. Implemented an organizational chart that placed an emphasis on principals as instructional leaders in their schools. This complemented the implementation of the new teacher evaluation procedures. It also enhanced the instructional support for teachers, in that it more appropriately defined responsibilities and leadership according to positions.

5. Requested greater emphasis on content for staff development and instruction, as most emphasis was on pedagogy.

6. Requested an increase in classroom observations and a decrease in walkthroughs.

7. Requested more utilization of manipulatives to meet the differentiated needs of students.

8. Supported the proposal to electronically manage triage data.

9. Supported a plan to ensure that students at greatest risk were not placed on the waiting list for enrollment in the Bright Starts Program.

10. Requested a monthly report on staff provisional/probationary status.

11. Supported curriculum revision for an increased focus on task analysis of instructional objectives and identified related resources.

12. Requested the implementation of a class in differentiated instruction for teachers, which is to be offered Spring 2014.

13. Implemented an annual evaluation of the Superintendent, in order to comply with VA Code 22.1 -60.1. There was no evaluation since 2010 – 2011.

14. Conducted an orientation for new school board members on July 10. 2013. The agenda consisted of the following topics:

• Governance and Standards of Quality

• Organizational Chart

• Directory of Building Administrators

• 2013-14 Calendar

• School Board Committees

• Virginia School Board Association

• School Law

The Licensure and Academic Reviews provided outstanding support for continued changes in enhancing the academic performance of our students.

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