by Megan Schiffres
Members of the Northumberland school board on Monday celebrated “preliminary accreditation.”
“It’s amazing to have all three of our schools accredited. It’s really a good feeling,” said board member Gerald Howard.
Accreditation ratings reflect the progress of schools toward meeting the Commonwealths’ expectations for student learning, according to the Virginia Department of Education. Accreditation for elementary and middle schools is based on indicators of student achievement, including overall proficiency in English, math and science; the presence of an achievement gap between student groups in either English or math; and the rate of absenteeism at the school. High schools also are evaluated using this criteria, in addition to graduation rates, dropout rates and college or career readiness of students.
All three Northumberland schools haven’t been fully accredited at the same time since the 2012-13 school year.
“It is a great accomplishment but it doesn’t mean that the job is done because 75% of us did well, but at least 20% of us did poor,” Howard said. “I’m glad to see that the state and everybody put more emphasis on equity because to get that other 20%, I think it’s tied directly into how well you do with equity.”
Official accreditation status is expected August 22.
The school board also transferred $70,000 from instructional costs to building security to hire and provide benefits for a new student resource officer (SRO) at Northumberland Middle School. Currently the middle and high school share an SRO, but superintendent Holly Wargo said that’s no longer enough.
“We wanted a dedicated SRO in each building due to increased incidents, not at Northumberland but across the nation,” said Wargo. “We want to be proactive with school safety.”
The board is seeking a grant from the Department of Criminal Justice Systems to partially fund the SRO position at the middle school, but will not know if they received it until late-October.
The board also approved a crisis plan for the 2018-19 school year. The plan was updated to become more aligned with state models over the summer and will be continuously updated as needed throughout the year.
“Anytime we have research-based ideas that need to be improved in the plan, we are continuously improving our crisis plan,” Wargo said.
The board will hold a special meeting at 1:30 p.m. Monday, August 20, in the guidance conference room at Northumberland High School, 201 Academic Lane, Claraville.