W.Va. returns partial control to Gilmer BOE

CHARLESTON – Two years after assuming control of Gilmer County Schools, the West Virginia Board of Education returned partial control to the local board during a meeting Wednesday.

Since 2011, improvements have been made in the Gilmer school system and the local board has regained partial control in the areas of curriculum, policies, finance, transportation, and the establishment and operation of a school calendar, state education officials said.

However, the state board will continue intervention in the areas of personnel, facilities and finance actions regarding facility expenditures as recommended by the Office of Education Performance Audits. The county will operate under conditional approval status.

On June 8, 2011, state board members declared a state of emergency in Gilmer County Schools and placed the school system on nonapproval status.

The action came after the auditor’s report cited significant leadership, technology, facility, personnel and finance issues in the county. Auditors found “county board members were in discord, the county board operations were dysfunctional, and meetings were unproductive and resulted in the board being incapable of following West Virginia Code and West Virginia Board of Education policies.”

In November the OEPA returned to Gilmer County to conduct a followup audit.

“Gilmer County administrators, teachers, students and the entire community should be commended for the progress they have made in the past two years,” said Gus Penix, executive director of the OEPA.

“As the Gilmer County Board of Education continues in developing board leadership, additional time is needed to support the board in making difficult personnel decisions and implementing the county Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP),” Penix said.

In addition, the OEPA recommended the state board begin the next phase of the transition for the Gilmer County Board of Education to regain full local control by establishing an exit agreement.

In addition to Gilmer County the state has intervened in the operation of school systems in Fayette, Grant, Mingo and Preston counties.