George: School system to address $900K budget deficit

ELKINS – Randolph County’s top education official has set dealing with the school system’s budget deficit as a top priority for the coming year.

George said officials plan to aggressively reduce the budget deficit – which officials say is more than $900,000 – that was discovered in the September financial statement.

“We have continuously taken steps to address those issues,” George said. “We are preparing a mid-year financial report for the board that will outline what we have done to this point, and of course, further reductions to the debt will be addressed during the upcoming personnel season.”

George recently shared his three-point plan of action for the new year and also reflected on some of the system’s accomplishments in 2013.

“We plan to enhance student achievement in grades pre-K through 12,” George said. “Our hope is that students will be prepared for college or ready for a career upon graduation from high school.”

George said the board has outlined some action steps for attaining this goal, including demanding faithful and consistent attendance, utilizing technical education opportunities to ensure college and/or career readiness, and implementing the “simulated workplace” pilot program.

The second goal is to enhance the efficiency of the school system across all departments and locations. Action steps include the implementation of innovative scheduling practices that support curriculum and personnel assignments, and assuring transparency of budget and finance processes.

The final goal is to enhance community and public relations through participation in civic, Elkins City Council, Elkins-Randolph Chamber of Commerce and Randolph County Commission meetings, and surveying communities for program support.

George said he was pleased by the many successes in the Randolph County school system during 2013.

“Randolph County had a School of Excellence,” George said. “It was the Randolph Technical Center. Only eight schools in the entire state achieved this designation.”

George said that 10 of the 14 schools in Randolph County were in the top two designations in the state for success. “That comes out to 71.4 percent of our schools. We are very proud of that.”

“We have completed the training at all grade levels for the Next Generation Content Standards implementation,” George said. “We were very aggressive in getting that organized and completed.”

The most efficient means of evaluation is the new online system, and that system has been completely implemented in Randolph County schools.

George said Randolph County schools had successful Federal Program and Special Education monitoring audits and that the last financial audit was complete with zero findings.

“That is a rare occasion to have zero findings,” George said.

Another great success has been the Community Eligibility Options for the child nutrition program.

“This provides 14 of our 15 schools with the option of free breakfast and lunches for students in those schools,” George said.

During the last school year, George said improvements were made in many of the school’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.

“We have also increased our broadband speeds countywide, which will assist us tremendously in the new online procedure for taking the WESTEST 2 and Smarter Balance Assessment Tests.”

“Coalton, Harman, Pickens and Valley Head schools were connected to broadband activity,” George said. “Trust me, that was an accomplishment. Now they are connected to the world.”

George said the school system has been successful in upgrading the stationary computer labs and the one-to-one computer program.

“We are very happy with the progress we are making,” George said. “We have some very aggressive goals for 2014. Our success will be measured with the success of our students.”