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Board hears schools report

Cumberland County Public Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Amy Griffin reported on the division’s reconstitution efforts for its elementary and middle schools to the county’s board of supervisors Tuesday.

Griffin said achieving reconstituted status is good because many other schools in the state were denied the chance. Cumberland High School received full accreditation, based on last year’s Standard of Learning (SOL) test scores.

Dr. Amy Griffin

Dr. Amy Griffin

“You’ll see that we, traditionally, do just as well as the state or above the state when it comes to disadvantaged students,” she said after inviting supervisors to view such data on the the Virginia Department of Education’s website. “You’ll see that we’re above the state average when it comes to graduation rates.”

She said the elementary and middle schools are showing “significant progress.”

“However, it’s not enough to be fully accredited. So, in July, we submitted the reconstitution application … and then the (school) board met with the department of education. We worked hard so we were pretty confident,” Griffin said of obtaining reconstituted status.

Griffin said the elementary school has shown “huge gains” in math and growth in English.

“That shows when you hire quality teachers … that it can be done,” Griffin said.

She said 16 Cumberland Elementary School teachers have up to 15 years of experience with another 20 teachers having 16 or more years of experience, along with experienced administrators.

“What are we doing to get fully accredited? What have we been doing the last three years? We’ve been doing a lot in the last three years,” Griffin said.

Actions taken at the elementary school include administrative changes, continuing to conduct site visits and creating a teacher cabinet.

“I personally selected each teacher … that I knew thought of students first,” Griffin said.

Other measures include learning how to “unpack” SOL and how to teach “balanced literacy,” hiring a math consultant and finding ways to provide student enrichment during school hours. Griffin said teachers had to relearn certain things due to changes in standards.

“In a small school division, it takes us longer because we don’t have as big a staff as (other divisions) and teachers are having to teach (and) write a new curriculum … all at the same time,” she said.

Griffin said many  actions taken at the elementary school have been taken at the middle school.

District One Supervisor William F. “Bill” Osl Jr. said working to achieve full accreditation for all of Cumberland’s schools is important.

“Businesses look at this information on the websites and it affects their potentially coming into Cumberland,” Osl said. “When they see bad grades on the school system, it reflects, secondly, in real estate … This comes right back in and affects people who want to potentially relocate in Cumberland … so, we’re paying for it in potential business opportunities.”

Later in the meeting, supervisors approved a $2,500 appropriation to the school division for a National Board Certification incentive award.

Cumberland’s school board is set to meet on Jan. 26 at 6 p.m., with the regular meeting beginning at 7 p.m.