Stankus: Upshur County Schools is ‘determined’ to bring up yearly assessment scores — especially in math

Also: B-UMS art teacher Sherri Butler named West Virginia Art Educator of the Year for 2019

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Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School Art Instructor Sherri Butler is recognized as the recipient of the West Virginia Art Educator of the Year for 2019. The award is presented through the West Virginia Art Education Association. Pictured, from left, are BOE member Dr. Greenbrier Almond, BOE president Dr. Tammy Samples, superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus, Butler, BOE member Alan Suder and BOE member Kristi Wilkerson.

BUCKHANNON – The superintendent of Upshur County Schools on Tuesday said the school system has work to do to bring up yearly assessment test scores across the county.

During Tuesday’s Upshur County Board of Education meeting at Union Elementary School, Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said she wants students and teachers to particularly focus on improving math scores this year.

“This year’s focus is on mathematics,” Stankus said. “One of the things we are really wanting to see happen is that the students with high GPAs are also making the high test scores on the ACT and SAT, so they will be eligible for the Promise Scholarship. That means those students will have financial support to attend college if they so choose.”

Stankus said that it is important because that is where academics and finances come together.

“Hard work pays off with that achievement,” she said, “but the measuring stick is that test score, and we need to make sure our students do better on that. Our goal is not to teach to the test, but we believe this is a reflection of our teaching and learning. We are looking at ways to improve.”

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison said if teachers are teaching the standards, the results will be reflected in the test scores.

“We are looking to teach the content standards with the idea that it will be reflective,” Harrison said.

“Our teachers are working hard, and we have smart students,” Stankus said. “There is no reason why we should not be achieving these assessments. We are determined.”

In other BOE news, last year, Upshur County Schools had the distinction of having two recipients of the West Virginia Art Education Association Art Teacher of the Year.

This year, Upshur County has another top art teacher.

“This is a very important award,” Stankus said. “Right here in Upshur County, we have the Art Educator of the Year. If you have looked at our social media, you will see just what she has been doing.”

Stankus introduced Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School art teacher Sherri Butler, the West Virginia Art Educator of the Year for 2019.

BOE members voted unanimously to approve the application for a Knights of Columbus Mentally Handicapped Foundation of W.Va. Grant. Stankus said the funds, if received, would be used to set up calming rooms in the schools.

“These are rooms that when students are feeling anxious could go to calm down,” Stankus said.

Special Education Director Melinda Stewart told BOE members the purpose is to let the students regulate themselves and to teach self-regulation.

“In those rooms, we will provide sensory items, calming items – whatever they need to regulate so they can go back to the classrooms and be successful there,” Stewart said.

Also, during Tuesday’s meeting, BOE members took the following actions:

BOE member Alan Suder reported that the caution light in Queens is out. Stankus said she would check to see if the responsibility for the light was with Upshur County Schools or the West Virginia Department of Highways.

Financial Director George Carver reported that energy-related bills for the gas and electric are running below last year’s pace. He said it could change with a cold snap but said so far, costs are running under the budgeted amount. Carver said costs for diesel fuel are also below budget.

BOE members voted unanimously to approve a donation of $500 to the Upshur Arts Alliance to be used for January’s adult spelling bee.

Following the third reading of the proposed revised policy 4003-Attendance, BOE members voted unanimously to approve it.

Following an approximate 15-minute executive session, BOE members voted unanimously to approve the proposed personnel items except for item 5 in part B for approval of employment. The item was for approval of employment of Travis Foster as freshman boys basketball coach at Buckhannon-Upshur High School effective Dec. 11, 2019. BOE members voted for this item to be stricken from the list.

The next Upshur County BOE meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 14, 202, at Tennerton Elementary School.