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Education commission wants to be 'catalyst of change'

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By Jeff Jenkins  
WV MetroNews  

The state Board of Education will receive 16 recommendations next week from a new commission that could change the way education is delivered in the Mountain State.

The Commission on School District Governance and Administration will recommend 55 county school districts focus more on student achievement and allow a redesigned regional education system take care of the many administrative duties school systems have.

“You’re moving their focus,” Commission Chairman Tom Campbell said Wednesday on MetroNews Talkline. “The superintendent, instead of spending half of their time on administrative issues, might spend 10 percent. So they're focused on what the principals and kids need to teach those kids.”

Campbell, a former state lawmaker and current member of the state Board of Education, said there’s momentum to recommend realigning the current eight Regional Education Service Agencies (RESAs) to meet the administrative needs of county school districts that have common needs. Campbell said the commission will not recommend eliminating the 55 county school districts.

“There are major differences in the needs of the 55 districts and to best suit them we feel like that it’s important to maintain the 55 districts with their primary focus being student achievement,” Campbell said.

The commission believes, according to Campbell, redesigned RESAs could help with things like finances and transportation. Campbell said grouping county school districts with similar needs would require a new RESA map. The current one hasn’t been changed since 1972.

Campbell said freeing up county school superintendents and school boards to focus on student achievement will help meet the changing needs of students.

“The students that we’re seeing in the classroom now have so many more issues than they did say 25 years ago,” Campbell said. “That’s one reason we need those districts really focused on those students.”

Campbell said the commission and state Board of Education want to be catalysts of change.

“It sets us apart as a state that not only cares about the kids but we did it,” he said.

The recommendations will be given to the state Board of Education at its meeting next week.