State of emergency to continue for Lincoln County schools

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Board of Education has voted to continue a state of emergency for an additional six months for Lincoln County schools.

Matt Hicks

The board vote, which took place Wednesday, comes at the end of an initial six-month review where progress has been reported. The board also accepted the six-month report Wednesday.

Matt Hicks, state Department of Education accountability director, told the state board a review team has reviewed operations at all eight schools in Lincoln County and come back with four county-level priorities including a comprehensive district wide school improvement approach, instructional leadership from the central office, education standards taught to the appropriate rigor and set and expect high expectations.

“Those high expectations are crucial in that schools push those students to their highest ability,” Hicks said. “That’s something the team decided to put in their as a county-level priority.”

Hicks also said an instruction improvement plan to be implemented next school year/

The state BOE could have decided Wednesday to take full control of the system but it opted for an additional six months under the state of emergency instead. The approved motion said the next review will focus on the effectiveness of the Lincoln County BOE.

Lincoln County BOE member Rodney Baker thanked the state BOE for the last six months and for the ongoing review.

“We will act on everything in there (the report) as we have done with everything the Department of Education has brought to our attention. There is a lot to do,” Baker said.

Baker said at the end of the next six months the county will have a comprehensive audit of its entire system.

“We have a road map to have one of the best school systems in the state,” he said.

Jeff Kelley

The state Department of Education will continue to assist Lincoln County School Superintendent Jeff Kelley who was hired in 2019.

Baker said he has great confidence in Kelley and others.

“We need time to let these great people do their jobs and make our school system better because it was as mess,” he said.

The state review has focused on a number of areas including finances, overtime, transportation, special education and personnel.

Lincoln County has had a history of state takeovers of its school system. The state Department of Education controlled Lincoln County Schools for 12 years because of the local board’s influence on employment and personnel. The state board voted in December 2012 to return the system to local control.