February 4, 2011 - Volume 31 Issue 7


Revised  Feb. 4, 2011.

Public education advocate Jamie Vollmer will provide the keynote address at the West Virginia School Board Association’s Winter Conference. His presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 25.

Vollmer, author of the highly acclaimed book, Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools, entered the education arena after having worked in the Washington, D.C., law firm of United States Congressman William Cramer until 1985, when he left to become in-house counsel of the Great Midwestern Ice Cream Company in Iowa. The company was proclaimed by People magazine to make the “Best Ice Cream in America!” He ultimately became the company’s president. 

In 1988, Vollmer became a founding member of the Iowa Business and Education Roundtable. He served as a volunteer for two years until 1990, when he became the Roundtable’s executive director, a post he held for three years. He has served on the board of the National PTA and the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. 

Once a harsh critic, Vollmer is now known as “an articulate champion of America’s public schools.” Over the last two decades, he has worked with hundreds of school districts, chambers of commerce, and education associations and foundations to improve student success.

His presentations have been praised as both practical and energizing. He uses statistics, logic, and humor to deliver a positive message regarding the future of schools. He has created a simple, inexpensive, step-by-step program called The Great Conversation that any community can use to help all students unfold their full potential.

In addition to his book and numerous articles, Vollmer has written and produced the videos, Why Our Schools Need to Change, Teachers are Heroes, and Building Support for America’s Schools.

Note: All conference registrants will receive a copy of Vollmer’s book. He also will inscribe books for conference participants both prior to and following his presentation.

Vollmer holds a juris doctorate from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He received his B.A. in political science from Pennsylvania State University.


Revised Feb. 4, 2011

Kenna Seal,. Ed.D., executive director of the state Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) and Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love attorneys Rick Boothy and Rebecca Tinder have been secured to present a West Virginia School Board Association Winter Conference segment dealing with county board monitoring and oversight. That session is slated for 6:45 p.m., Friday, Feb. 25, during the conference at the Charleston Town Center Marriott Hotel.

In terms of the “monitoring and oversight program,”  WVSBA Executive Director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D, said the session will be “timely and will shed some light on how county boards can accomplish oversight and monitoring to effectively ward off damaging OEPA findings which sometimes – certainly not always – are administrative in nature.”

O’Cull, who designed the program, added, “The monitoring tools are in code; they have been so since 1993 literally, but are hardly used. The problem, of course, is that some county board members will view oversight and monitoring as a ticket to heaven for micromanagement. For the program to be effective – to accomplish what is laid out in code – we have to get beyond this scenario, dealing with it first.”

In terms of the program, however, O’Cull cited sections of West Virginia Code to support his view that monitoring and oversight are not only sanctioned by law but also may be required in some instances.


‘Impressive Code Structural Context.’

O’Cull said the sections of law that serve as the “impressive structural context for the session” are:

“Policies to Promote School Board Effectiveness”

The county board is to develop various policies that provide for:

  • Development of direct links between the county board and the community at large, allowing for community involvement at regular county board meetings and specifying how the county board will communicate regularly with the public regarding important issues;
  • Periodic review of personnel policies of the district to determine their effectiveness;
  • (Development) of  broad guidelines for the school district, including the establishment of specific oversight procedures, development and implementation of standards of accountability and development of long-range plans to meet future needs as required by this section; and
  • Use of school-based accreditation and performance data provided by the state board and other available data in county board decision-making to meet the education goals of the state and other goals as the county board may establish.

O’Cull said the statute requires the policies to be reviewed annually prior to Aug. 1 and county boards may “modify these policies as necessary.”

The code citation is:


Superintendent Evaluation. 

Based on his review of code, O’Cull also said agreements about monitoring and oversight can be built within both the county superintendent’s contract and evaluation procedures.

The association believes this is particularly apparent in terms of evaluation in which the county board is required to evaluate the “…county superintendent on his or her success in improving student achievement generally across the county and specifically as it relates to the management and administration of low performing schools.”

“The evaluation also may cover the performance of a county superintendent in the areas of community relations, school finance, personnel relations, curricular standards and programs and overall leadership of the school district as indicated primarily by improvements in student achievement, testing and assessment.”

The legislative citation is:



Finally, O’Cull said another section of code requires county superintendents to:

  • “Report promptly to the county board in such manner as it directs whenever any school in the district appears to be failing to meet the standards for improving education established pursuant to (§18-2E-5) (Office of Education Performance Audits);
  • “Act as the chief executive officer of the county board as may be delineated in his or her contract or other written agreement with the county board, and, under the direction of the state board, execute all its education policies;
  • “Keep the county board apprised continuously of any issues that affect the county board or its schools, programs and initiatives. The county superintendent shall report to the county board on these issues using any appropriate means agreeable to both parties. When practicable, the reports shall be fashioned to include a broad array of data and information that the county board may consult to aid in making decisions.

The legislative code citation is:

 “As you can see, the code is structured for the type discussion we will have regarding oversight and monitoring,” O’Cull said.


“No day-to-day meddling.”

“Again, it is my hope all parties concerned see the legitimacy of these discussions from a policy vantage and not a one-ups-man approach or as license for day-to-day meddling in school systems – that is by board members and you know who you are – rather than proper intervention by county superintendents,” he said.

NOTE: All code links are from the West Virginia Legislature’s official website.


The West Virginia School Board Association Winter Conference will be held February 25-26, 2011, in Charleston. The meeting will be held at the Marriott Town Center Hotel. The program includes:

Thursday, February 24, 2011

7:00 p.m.   WVSBA Executive Board Meeting

Friday, February 25, 2011

10:30 a.m.   First General Session – Jamie Vollmer, author Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools
12:15 p.m.   Light Luncheon
1:15 p.m.    Transportation to Capitol begins
1:00 p.m.   Jamie Vollmer, author Schools Cannot Do It Alone: Building Public Support for America’s Public Schools
6:45 p.m.   Monitoring and Oversight: The Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA) Connection
9:15 a.m.   Adjournment


Saturday, February 26, 2011

8:00 a.m.   FY12 Annual Business Meeting
9:00 a.m.   West Virginia Education Alliance presentation regarding high school completion rates –
10:00 a.m.  

Emerging issues discussion

  1. Group I – Legislative/West Virginia Board of Education policy review
  2. Group II – Conducted by Member of WVSBA Executive Board
  3. Group III – Takeover County Boards
12:00 p.m.   Adjournment


Note: Full program details to be approved by the County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee which will meet in early February.