Fayette County gets most of its school system back from state control

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Fayette County gets most of its school system back from state control
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education voted Thursday to return the Fayette County school system to local control with the exception of facilities and finances related to facilities.

The state board seized control of the system in 2010 after a performance audit showed numerous problems with personnel, policies and maintenance. Many  things since then have been approved, Fayette County Superintendent Terry George said.

“We’ve reduced the number of personnel that we were over the formula tremendously in the last three years. We’ve improved our finances related to maintenance and we’ve updated our policies,” George, who took over as superintendent in July 2015, said.

The next target is facilities. Last month, the state School Board Authority approved $12.6 million for the first of a multi-year school construction schedule. George is glad the state School Board is maintaining an interest in that process.

“They will have the opportunity to oversee the fact that we allocate the funds that we promised,” he said.

There will be a number of school closing hearings in the coming months and years and the state Board of Education wants to stay involved, according to state Board President Mike Green.

“We do not want to relive all of the issues we’ve gone through over the last couple of years but the board felt very strongly that we need to continue to at least maintain control over facilities and the money associated with those facilities,” Green said.

George said Thursday’s move sends a message to Fayette County residents.

“Their (local) board is acting appropriately and responsibly and we are making progress to resolve the issues of student achievement and the issues with rundown facilities,” George said.

With Thursday’s vote, the state Board of Education no longer has total control of any of the state’s 55 school systems.

“This is the last county that this school board has any control over. We would like nothing better than to have no counties under state control,” Green said.

The Office of Education Performance Audits has recommended George remain on board through 2018.