Upshur superintendent briefs board of education on ‘lofty’ goals for 2023-2024 school year

TENNERTON – Each year, West Virginia counties set benchmarks for what they would like their superintendents in each school district to achieve.

Boards of education typically discuss those goals and focus areas with superintendents prior to voting on them. But for the 2023-2024 school year in Upshur County Schools, the process looks much different, as was evident at Upshur County Schools’ October meeting.

West Virginia Department of Education-appointed superintendent of Upshur County Schools Christy Miller laid out the goals she and West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Michele Blatt had agreed upon at the board’s Oct. 10 meeting.

“If we were a functioning county without being under state takeover, the superintendent and board would agree on these goals by September 15 of each year,” Miller said. “As of September 13, our board, which is Michele Blatt, our state superintendent of schools, and her designee [Dr.] Sonya White (deputy state superintendent of schools) put together what they wanted me to concentrate on this year for goals as superintendent in the county.”

Miller said the goals are similar to the ones that have been set for Blatt statewide, just tailored to Upshur County Schools.

“These will be the same goals that Ms. Blatt will be working on throughout the state for her goals as well,” she said. “Mine just reflect them for the county.”

Below is a list of goals with some brief commentary Miller offered:

  • Goal 1: Implement a districtwide accountability system for educational practices where teaching and student learning are the top priority in the county system of education, with the subgoal of increasing increase student achievement in math, reading and workplace readiness.
  • Goal 2: To collaborate with the West Virginia Department of Education to identify findings which negatively impact student learning or operational efficiency within the county.
  • Goal 3: Review, revise and update county policy as needed. “That is still in those planning stages, but we do think we have a company that is going to be able to support us in that endeavor,” Miller added.
  • Goal 4: Implement complaint and resolution policies and processes for employees and parents. Miller said the school system has developed and updated a school district organizational flow chart. “Once we get into the policy-making piece, then we will have the appropriate forms and materials so that everyone will be educated on how you go about making a complaint.”
  • Goal 5: Explore and expand opportunities to meet workforce needs. “This may include but is not limited to alternative certification programs, the Grow Your Own pathway, and the recruitment and retention of employees. “Everyone is working on that diligently across the state of West Virginia,” Blatt said. “We need more employees. We need more folks who are willing to dedicate themselves to providing quality educational learning experiences for our students. It’s so important to have our cooks here to provide those meals, our drivers to bring our kids, our aides to support the instruction in the classroom as well as our secretaries. I don’t know what we would do without them in the Board Office – they are fabulous. We need our custodians that keep these buildings clean so that we feel good about coming and going every day – they do a marvelous job.”
  • Goal 6: Assess and if possible, expand career and technical education for students at the middle school for this school year and further relationships with local businesses and industries.

Miller said accomplishing those objectives wouldn’t be easy, but she was optimistic.

“So, lofty goals, but there are many that I believe are achievable because, as we’ve seen this evening, we have a workforce that is more than capable of helping us reach those levels of excellence,” Miller said, referencing a recent report on the hiring of personnel. “I cannot speak highly enough of what’s going on in our classrooms.”

“There’s a lot to be accomplished, but for those who are here, I really feel confident that we’ll be able to do those things,” she added.

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