March 11, 2011 - Volume 31 Issue 17

By Jessica Wintz

During the West Virginia School Board Association 2011 Winter Conference in Charleston, which was held Feb. 25 and 26 in Charleston, the Education Alliance’s Frontline Network for High School Completion counties—Calhoun, Monroe, Monongalia, and Putnam – had an opportunity to share their successes and discoveries tackling their counties’ dropout issues.

Patricia S. Kusimo, Ph.D., President/CEO of the Education Alliance, introducing the West Virginia School Board Association Winter Conference program relating to county board efforts to address the high school graduation rate in four “Frontline” Counties participating in an Alliance/WVSBA program funded by the Claude E. Worthington Benedum Foundation located in Pittsburgh.

The project was implemented in collaboration with the West Virginia School Board Association and the West Virginia Center for Civic Life. The project was made possible by a major grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, Toyota Manufacturing and the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. Grant funding of up to $10,000 per county supported each county’s efforts to develop and implement plans and other actions to improve high school completion rates and lower dropout rates in their respective counties. Frontline Network participants collaborated with local educators, parents, personnel from social service agencies and community groups to identify and address the core issues that impact students completing or dropping out of school.

Cynthia Dale, a member of the Calhoun County Board of Education, discusses her county’s “Frontline” project efforts.

Among the successes were Monroe County’s implementation of “The Choice Bus,” which reinforces the importance of high school completion to middle and high school students;  Monongalia County’s findings from administering  the High School Survey of Student Engagement to more than 870 tenth graders in their county; Putnam county’s student focus groups and subsequent Frontline Summit facilitated by students; and Calhoun County’s efforts to host public forums to engage their community in dropout prevention discussions and expose students to career opportunities. More information about the Frontline Network for High School Completion and the final reports detailing the outcomes of each county’s efforts can be found on the Education Alliance’s website: Additionally, a community action guide for dropout prevention containing West Virginia data and facilitator tools  are  available at the Education alliance’s website. 

Jessica Wintz is the West Virginia eMentoring program director for the Education Alliance.

-Photographs used by permission of The Education Alliance


Using a Likert Scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the “highest” ranking, here is an evaluative overview of the various West Virginia School Board Association Winter Conference programs presented Feb. 25 and 26 in Charleston. Rankings relate to items having received combined percentages of  3s, 4s, and 5s in terms of aggregated participant evaluations. A few evaluative comments also are included.

General Sessions.

Keynote Session – “Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for  America’s Public Schools”:

            98 percent

“Nothing to improve – what we needed to hear. I’m taking away inspirational ideas and a plan to implement immediately. My number one priority is school culture and communication between school and community.”

“I don’t ordinarily like the motivational programs but this guy seems to know what he’s talking about.”

“Excellent job – didn’t need improvements. (Jaime) Vollmer was right on the mark. Can’t wait to finish the book and implement changes in our communities and schools.”

“We always need inspirational new perspectives on how we can be effective.”

“Wonderful job – great presenter.”


Session II – “Monitoring and Oversight: The Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) Connection”:

            83 percent

“I particularly like that (Office of Education Performance Audits Executive Director Kenna Seal, Ed.D.) gave us information that we can use on our own. I have often gotten data from the Department of Education website but he showed us more. I always love the legal information.”

“Need more time for this type of presentation.”

“The interaction within the whole presentation kept it interesting and kept everyone engaged.”

“The interactive portion with Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love lawyers (Rick Boothby and Rebecca Tinder) was very good.”

“Well organized and presented. Thought provoking, practically useful.”

“Great….interaction with attendees.”

“Enjoyed the way the presentation was handled. (Boothby and Tinder) did a great job. Any presentation concerning school law is good.”

“The Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love portion of the program was excellent.”


Session III – “Conversations on Dropout Prevention – Getting Everyone in the Community Involved”:

            89 percent

“I would like specific presentations of the various programs that the counties used to improve their problems. Methods of increasing attendance, participation and completing the curriculum for high school would benefit, especially in a workshop.”

“(The Monroe County Board of Education) representative did an excellent job in her presentation, not just percentages but real cases and examples.”

“Testimonials would be good/better if shared online. It could be information that boards could use/share. Maybe use the website to do ‘did you know’ from X county.”

“It’s good to see programs addressing school problems - four counties slightly varying approaches; data-driven very much the same.

“Give statistics and information of what and how schools are doing to keep children in schools.”


Breakout sessions

Session IV – “Community Action Guide for Dropout Prevention”:

            100 percent

“Loved this session – great ideas.

“You should do this again, possibly as general session because every county can increase their graduation rate.”


Session V – “The Move to Electronic Meetings”:

            100 percent

“I would like to see this demonstrated.”

“I wish you would have used a computer and screen to help explain the presentation. Maybe a mock board meeting, etc.”

“Demonstration of Board Docs and other available options.”


Session VI – “Takeover County Boards”:

            100 percent

“Excellent! Having state Board of Education President (Priscilla Haden) at the session really empowered the group to speak. Thank you!”
“We had a great question and answer discussion about what is going on in the takeover counties.”


Session VII – “Participant-led Session”:

            100 percent

“I like these sessions – they are down to earth and useful.”

“Good interaction.”

“We could pick topics that we needed help on – very practical.”

“Always enjoy these sessions!”


Results to be provided to Training Committee.

A report regarding Conference program evaluation will be provided to the County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC) at the April meeting.

Results compiled by WVSBA Conference registrar Shirley Davidson.


Four “Notice of Position Vacancies” for county superintendent positions are posted on the West Virginia School Board Association Website. Postings are for the following county boards:

Posting periods for the Doddridge, Lincoln and Roane County Superintendent of Schools positions have expired, with the respective county boards undertaking screenings and various other aspects of the searches, according to information provided to WVSBA.

WVSBA is providing logistical support to the Doddridge, Gilmer, Mineral and Tucker County Boards of Education in their superintendent searches.