BY: Eddie Trizzino, Times West Virginian
FAIRMONT – Over the past week, the Marion County Board of Education members have been traveling to each of the district high schools.
The purpose of these visits is the annual occurrence of the Local School Improvement Council (LSIC) meetings, where the board discusses the needs and priorities of the institutions to make a plan outlining what future work must be accomplished.
“We got some really good information, and before long, we’ll be going into another 10-year plan,” Board of Education president Mary Jo Thomas said. “So this will be invaluable to us in getting reports from boots on the ground exactly what’s needed.”
On Monday, they visited East Fairmont High School, followed by Fairmont Senior High School on Tuesday and finally North Marion High School yesterday evening, where the principals and some other staff members hosted the board members.
To complete these evaluations, the high schools each prepared presentations to give the board a clear idea of priorities needed within the facilities, staff and curriculum. These factors will be included in the board’s 10-year plan, which will be formulated in 2020 and attempt to address these priorities.
“We need to know those things, and who better to tell than the people that are in the building every day,” Thomas said. “The four major things that we ask them to focus on, to be sure to include in their presentations were safety, their anti-bullying programs, activities they have in place, then we wanted their needs in priority order and we wanted their wants or wishes in priority order.”
In hearing these presentations, the board discovered some key points that need to be addressed as soon as possible, with some facility roofing issues being an example, as well as technology, which is a constant update the schools must keep up with.
“Oftentimes, you hear things you really didn’t want to hear, but things you need to know,” Thomas said. “We want our students and our staff and faculty to have the best that we can afford – the best we can get for them.”
Staffing is also a priority the board often receives word of through these meetings, as some schools may require new or different positions to meet the needs of students.
And although these meetings are focused on the needs of the schools, they can also provide an overall status report to the board, with Thomas mentioning that they hear news both good and not so good from each school.
“We heard lots of good things going on in the schools, some of it we knew and some of it we didn’t,” she said. “This is sort of our benchmark each year, to see what we’ve gotten accomplished, what are some things we’ve gotten done.”
Having completed the meetings with the high schools, the board will now look at the information they provided and move forward with making a plan to address the needs of the schools. Now they know the priorities.
“A lot of good I think comes from these LSIC meetings,” Thomas said. “The Local School Improvement Councils are to help us be strategic, and to make sure we’re being good stewards of the money and we’re spending the money where it is needed.”