LCPS taking accreditation steps

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, November 23, 2016

In a statement read into the official minutes of the Lunenburg County School Board’s Nov. 7 meeting, Superintendent Charles Berkley addressed how the division is “taking strides” to improve academic outcomes at Kenbridge and Victoria elementary schools and Lunenburg Middle School. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) denied the three schools accreditation earlier this fall after they had been partially accredited for the previous three years.

“While we are disappointed, we are encouraged that we are making progress and advancements across the board in all our schools,” Berkley said. “We strongly feel that we are on the right trajectory to regaining our accreditation.”

He said the division has already been working to address issues by adding a math coach/specialist to help improve scores at all three schools, added more English as a Second Language (ESL) instructors division wide, added new staff throughout the division and transferred veteran staff to “areas of critical need” to improve math and English performance.

“In denying accreditation, the (VDOE) and the school division will partner and provide additional resources to the school,” Berkley said.

He said VDOE has already provided an education consultant coach to the division, and announced Michael Newman, a retired educator who served most recently as Goochland High School’s principal, is now the division’s Office of School Improvement contractor. Berkley added the state has already granted the school division

technical assistance for principal leadership.

“Principals are receiving training in many facets of school management, including budget and policy,” Berkley said. “In addition to principal leadership, the division and schools are receiving training on conducting a comprehensive needs assessment. This … will give the division the opportunity to collect, analyze, monitor, reflect and act on information that will lead the division to the next level of excellence.”

Berkley said that, in the near future, the division and VDOE will work on a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to ensure the schools experience success and regain accreditation.

“This (MOU) primarily would take the form of additional training and professional development for the school’s staff,” Berkley said.

He added the division has made changes giving elementary teachers more time for planning and collaboration and working out strategies to achieve student passing rates and learning.

“As research has shown, it is the teacher in the classroom who has the greatest impact on student learning. Ultimately, each student … will receive targeted instruction based on their unique needs to help them learn and move forward,” Berkley said. “Moreover, the division has made tremendous progress and advancement in moving the needle for all our students, but as the standards of learning continue to get more rigorous, we must be able to adjust methodology and become versatile in our approach to 21st century learning skills.”

In other news, Berkley reported the division has partnered with Kenbridge Construction Company (KCC), creating an apprenticeship program for some students in the areas of commercial and residential construction, clerical work and technology assistants. Students will have to meet certain guidelines, such as their grade point average, being in the 11th or 12th grade and completed needed course requirements to be on track for graduation to be considered.

“These students will also have to have excellent attendance rates, good character and behavior traits and be willing to work in the construction venue,” Berkley reported.

He said the program will prepare students for a career in residential and commercial construction and could lead to placement in an apprenticeship program beyond high school.

“Students will have the opportunity to train at construction sties through work-based learning and student projects,” Berkley said. “This would permit each student the opportunity to acquire knowledge and experiences in current and traditional building practices, which meet industry standards, including energy efficient construction, health and safety at the workplace and maintenance of existing structures.

KCC is also looking for clerical assistants and technology assistants in their corporate office and at job sites, he said.

The program will be called Pre-Apprenticeship Construction Education, or PACE, Berkley said. He also said KCC will be responsible for compliance with child labor laws, participate in the mentoring and training of students and provide them with all safety equipment and resources.