VBOE approves Franklin’s corrective action plan

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, April 8, 2015

When someone signs up to be a first-year superintendent, the job doesn’t come with a set of directions breaking down how to improve schools in the system, said Virginia Department of Education Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven R. Staples.

But that changed for Franklin City Public School Division Superintendent Dr. Willie J. Bell after he and his team worked with Staples’ team on revising the corrective action plan.

The three-year target plan aims to have all three schools accredited by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. -- SUBMITTED

The three-year target plan aims to have all three schools accredited by the beginning of the 2017-18 school year. — SUBMITTED

“I think the product now gives you a sense of a road map as to where to go,” Staples said.

The corrective action plan process has been a long journey, said Virginia Board of Education member Diane T. Atkinson. After the March 26 meeting, however, it’s finally over. The board unanimously approved the amended corrective action plan required by the division level review, which found systemic problems in the system back in December 2013.

This is the sixth VBOE meeting that Franklin has been on the agenda regarding the corrective action plan. In June, the board approved the plan up to Nov. 30, 2014, on the condition that amendments take place. Starting with the November meeting, the board required the Franklin system to change the scope of its corrective action plan to include timelines, targets and measurable outcomes where applicable. In January, the board offered to have the superintendent of public instruction and his team help FCPS complete the document. The FCPS superintendent accepted.

“I want to acknowledge [that this has been hard work], and appreciate you for hanging in there,” Atkinson said to Bell, who was present at the meeting along with Ward 1 school board member Nancy Godwin. “I want to acknowledge the board — there has not been a meeting where a Franklin superintendent was here where a board member has not been here as well.”

VBOE president Christian N. Braunlich said he had been concerned about the targets outlined in the previous versions of the CAP. But after reading the revisions and the three-year target plan, he said he felt comfortable.

“Clearly, a lot of thought has been put into this,” Braunlich said. “And clearly, these are targets that you see as reachable to get to that goal in three years, and I just wanted to applaud you for it.”

The three-year target plan is a goal for accreditation, which will have J.P. King Middle School passing the Standards of Learning tests state accreditation benchmarks by the end of the upcoming school year, 2015-16; and S.P. Morton Elementary School by the end of the 2016-17 school year. Franklin High School became accredited at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, and by 2016-17, the division would like to see English and math in the 80th percentile, and history and science in the 90th.

Bell also thanked the board and Staples for their help in this process. He said it was a process that he was adopted into, but that he and the division are working diligently to ensure Franklin’s students receive the best education possible.

“Together, we have worked to create what I believe are some good goals,” Bell said. “We have good essential actions, good targets that you assisted through our discussions to make sure they were challenging and realistic.

“The team is on board in Franklin.”

The corrective action plan is focused on four goals: curricula alignment; human resources; purpose and direction; and leadership and governance. In those goals are 30 essential actions, and VBOE highlighted eight of them to receive work.

For example, in human resources, the VBOE wanted to see improvement in actions 2.2 and 2.5, which dealt with administration and teacher endorsement and licensure. Human resources had been a problem in the school-level review, and it came up again in the division-level review, with 10 teachers instructing outside of their licensed areas.

Prior to offering a contract, a candidate must be continuously screened for credentials. This will be reviewed quarterly beginning this month.

Director of Human Resources Gail Wade will also be required to create a personnel database and maintain it containing name, assignment area(s), license and endorsement(s), as well as if teachers or administrators have highly qualified, provisional or probationary status.

Master schedules will also be collected from each school to ensure no teacher is assigned outside of their area of endorsement. Instructional Personnel Verification and Survey Data (IPAL) will also be pulled and reviewed at the end of each semester.

Superintendent Bell will be monitoring the status to make sure it takes place, but it doesn’t end there. The Department of Education’s Office of School Improvement will also be checking behind Wade, as will Cathy David, the chief academic offer assigned to the Franklin City Public School division by the board of education.

VDOE wants to know monitor long-term substitutes in the division, and how the administrative team is backing them up until a credentialed teacher is hired.

Previously regarding item 2.5 — teacher licensure and endorsement — the division had listed this goal as completed, having required Wade to review the master schedules and work with the state’s director of licensure to ensure that all candidates for licensed positions held the proper documentation. As of October 2014, it was reported that 100 percent of teachers and professional staff had endorsements in the areas assigned. Instructional staff lists were also to be provided as supporting documentation.

Such processes to clarify, expand and provide checks have been worked out for all eight revised actions. The documentation can be read on www.thetidewaternews.com.