From the Desk of the Superintendent
Back to School Welcome 2014-15
It’s always my privilege to welcome our students, staff and community to a new school year. I hope the summer has been enjoyable and that everyone is as excited as I am to begin a new school year. On behalf of myself, our directors, principals, teachers and staff, I assure you that we are all here as a ‘team’ to make sure that every child is treated as an individual, that all children are creative and can learn, and that each child will be successful.
Over the summer we have hired employees to replace those who retired or moved, cleaned and refurbished the buildings, registered new students and restocked classroom supplies to plan for the upcoming year. Our Summer Programs, Energy Express and S.T.A.R.S. were a huge success again this year. The S.T.A.R.S. Summer School Program (held at Creed Collins, Ellenboro, and Smithville) just received the outstanding news of a $220,000 grant award for the next 5 years. We are more than pleased to be able to continue these exceptional programs in Ritchie County and I appreciate the hard work and diligence it takes to make and keep these curriculums thriving. Our maintenance, custodial staff and the entire county came together this summer to ensure that our schools were ready for the start of the school year.
I’d like to express my sincere congratulations to Teacher of the Year - Rose Murphy (Kindergarten Teacher at Harrisville Elementary) and to Kim Oblinger – Service Personnel of the Year (Aide at Creed Collins Elementary). These two will be recognized in Charleston by the WV State Board of Education in the coming months and the state winners will be announced at that time.
It was most unfortunate that the Harrisville Needs Project came in over bid. We are currently evaluating our options to best meet the needs for all of our students. I greatly appreciate how our communities came together to assist us with getting Harrisville Elementary as well as the high school back together with plenty of time prior to the schools being occupied.
The Board just approved the bids for the cooling towers of which work will begin soon. The School Building Authority funded $226,800 of the costs and local contributions totaled $95,776. This will complete the HVAC upgrade project for Ritchie County Middle/ High Complex.
We are pleased to announce that all elementary students will receive free breakfast and lunch this year through the Community Eligibility Program of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. This is the first year that our county as a whole has received this funding.
As most are aware, the excess school levy provides tremendous resources for the education of our students. The current levy expires on June 30, 2015; therefore the Board will present a new levy to the voters at the general election on November 4, 2014. The new levy will be a five year levy running from July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2020. This levy will not create new taxes. The proposed rates for the new levy are the same as the current levy.
Ritchie County students receive multiple benefits from the excess levy. For example, all students receive free textbooks and classroom supplies, art, music, and library supplies are also included in our levy funding. We are grateful this allows Ritchie County teachers to purchase a variety of materials to enhance the educational experience for students. Another levy item included is the transportation cost to transport our students to/ from the MOVTI facility, as well as to getting our athletes to/ from away games. In addition, a large amount of our technology funding comes from the levy also. Smart boards for all classrooms, computers for our labs and many other technology needs are supported from our levy call. Other items included in our school operating levy are: funding for teachers and service personnel positions, coaching salaries, maintenance, bus supplies, capital improvements and the funding for a Prevention Resource Officer at RCMS/ HS. The excess levy also provides money to help the Ritchie County Extension Service as well as much more for the students of Ritchie County.
As with every other year, I place a great emphasis on communication. I encourage you to visit our county website at www.ritchieschools.com, it is a great tool for everyone in the school system and is consistently updated with pertinent information. There you will find access to board policies, meeting dates, menus, school events and technology links. Our school messenger calling system has proved to be a great means of communication and will be utilized again this year.
The LiveGrades information system is a place to connect teachers, students, and parents for success, remains to be nothing short of brilliant. If you have not used this system as a parent, I strongly encourage you to do so this year. There, you’re able to see your child’s grades daily and be in constant communication with your child’s teachers. There are links to attendance, discipline, announcements, etc., and you’re also able to send and receive messages from the system. This is available to all students in 1st through 12th grades. All students and parents are encouraged to contact the appropriate school for a parent user ID and password. LiveGrades is an incredible asset to your child’s education, it is essential in keeping you up to date on your child’s daily progress.
Again this year, I plan to continue to meet monthly with our Professional, Service, and Student Advisory Committees. The Advisory Councils have been an extremely successful way to keep in contact with our teachers, service personnel, and students. I am extremely pleased to have set up a Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council in each of the counties I have been in. Every month I meet with a group of 8th – 12th grade students to focus on school improvement (facilities, academics, communication) and positive ways to enhance our overall school system from a student’s perspective. It’s a great opportunity to listen to the voice of those who are most affected and impacted by our system – our students. I value my time spent with them. I am always available for their questions and concerns, as well as yours. You may contact me at work at 304.643.2991 (extension 1), by email at email@example.com, or at home at 304.659.2763. In order to keep up with the advances of technology and communication, you may also follow me on Twitter @etomansuper for updates on school closings, announcements, educational postings and on occasion some of our family antics.
I’d like to welcome our newest Board Member Mr. Brian “Scott” Walton to our organization, Mr. Walton replaces Mrs. Sheryll Jameson’s seat. Mrs. Jameson’s service was invaluable as a former educator, parent/ grandparent - she brought great experience, leadership and accountability to our board. I welcome Mr. Walton’s new ideas, support of our students and staff, and I look forward to his service throughout his term.
August 11th will be the first day for teachers and staff, with the students beginning their 2014-15 school year on August 14th. In a matter of just a few short weeks, the buses will be on the roads again with the anticipation of fall sports in the air. As a parent and Superintendent, my expectations for Ritchie County remain high. You will find that I am not only visible in the schools, but on the buses, in the classrooms and throughout our communities as well. My work ethic remains based on honesty, integrity, respect and fairness. I encourage each of you to not only be involved in your child’s classroom, but to be involved with our complete educational system. Our entire staff remains focused on student achievement and I am looking forward to raising the expectations for all.
In closing, I want to express my sincere appreciation to the students, parents, board members, teachers, staff and administrators who work diligently throughout the year to make our schools the great places they are. Lastly, thank you to the community itself for expecting, demanding, supporting and empowering the schools of Ritchie County to meet the needs of our young people. Good luck and best wishes to all for a very successful school year.
“What gets measured gets done.” “What gets monitored gets done well.”