Chris Schulz Published

State BOE Hears Update On County State Of Emergency, School Safety

High School Hallway

The West Virginia Board of Education (BOE) met Wednesday morning for its monthly meeting, and training is planned for a county with substandard performance.

Among reports on school safety and security, and the results of a teacher survey, the state BOE heard an update on Lincoln County Schools.

The state board issued a state of emergency for the county’s school system in November 2020, and has extended it three times, most recently in July of this year. An initial review found students were below average in math and reading.

West Virginia Department of Education Director of Accountability Matthew Hicks told the state board that things in Lincoln County are moving routinely.

“Training is being planned for the end of November, and overall the last month has been pretty quiet,” he said.

Lincoln County’s state of emergency is different from the state intervention in Logan County, which the board approved last month.

Hicks also presented the annual county board of education accountability report, which identifies counties that may need improvement or state help. Each county is scored on 11 efficiency indicators.

“These areas will be used to determine approval status for county school systems in the report,” Hicks said.

Earlier in the meeting, School Operations Officer Samuel Pauley presented the board with a school safety and security update. Most notably, Pauley reported that appropriation requests for the security needs of county school boards increased by 147 percent.

“The total request, as reported to us by the county boards, was $247 million,” Pauley said. “Last year, that request was $100 million, roughly.”

The price tag primarily includes requests for safe school entryways, weapon detection systems and resource officers.

“It’s a significant increase, that we feel that, that’s likely due to the shooting that occurred earlier in the year in Uvalde, Texas,” Pauley said.

The board also approved an extension of a statewide waiver of Policy 4336 that was initially approved last December. The policy pertains to West Virginia School Bus Transportation Regulations, and allows certified bus drivers from other states to substitute experience in lieu of the required 40 hours of classroom training and 12 hours of behind the wheel training.

Director of Transportation David Baber said over the past year, 16 drivers have come into the state via the waiver.

“It’s a small number, but it’s very practical,” he said. “It’s 16 more we didn’t have prior to that.”

Baber said that a revision of the policy is in the works.