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Colonial Beach School Board opts for "Transformational Plan" to deal with Federal mandate

Anne Congdon is lone "No" vote.

Last night’s School Board meeting began at 7 p.m. in the usual fashion.  One notable difference was the approximately 60 citizens who showed up to witness a historical decision that had to be made by the School Board under a federal mandate. 

Because Colonial Beach High School has been deemed a persistently low achieving school --  “Not in Improvement” Tier II” -- by the Virginia Department of Education under federal standards, the School Board was mandated to choose one of four alternative models designed to improve student achievement. All of the alternative models were tied to an additional $350,000 to $500,000 of funding provided under recent federal legislation.

The gravity of the impending decision was noted by School Board member Wayne Kennedy who expressed his displeasure with recent newspaper reports of shortcomings in the school system, while School Board Chair Tim Trivett asked for support from the community while “we meet the challenge and be successful in all we do.”

Under the federally-mandated School Improvement Program, the first alternative, the Turnaround Plan, would be to replace the current Principal, Clint Runyan, and at least half of the high school staff while implementing a revised instruction program.  The second alternative, the Restart Plan, would require the town could close the high school and reopen under a charter school operator meeting strict requirements.  The third alternative, the Closure Plan, would mandate closing the high school and enrolling students in a nearby district. The fourth and least disruptive alternative, the Transformational Plan, would include replacing the current principal, implementing instructional reform, extending learning and teacher planning time and providing operating flexibility and sustained support. 

After an hour and a half closed session discussing personnel matters, School Board members reconvened the open meeting at 10:30 p.m.  Superintendent Donna Power made her recommendation to the board that the fourth alternative, the Transformational Plan, be adopted with submission of a waiver request to the DOE to keep in place current high school principal with a probation period of year.

At 10:39 p.m., after a 9 minute recommendation by Superintendent Power, board member Mike Looney moved to adopt the recommendation of Power with Wayne Kennedy seconding the motion.  A vote was taken with Trivett, Looney, Kennedy and Lyburn voting aye and only Anne Congdon voting nay.  When questioned on her lone nay vote, Congdon replied she “was not happy with the terms on the table.”

Read more in the March 17 edition of The Journal.

~ Kathy Flanagan 

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