JMU Donates Video Conferencing Equipment To Highland County High School

Monterey, Va – School Superintendent Crawford had a special announcement at Monday’s School Board Meeting, regarding a new collaboration with James Madison University.

“Carol Fleming and Lindsey Aldridge came over to meet with us and they are going to be donating a video conferencing piece of equipment to be placed here in the high school,” says Crawford. “This equipment hopefully will be used for students and the community. This equipment will give staff members the chance for staff development, students the opportunity for virtual courses, and community members the opportunity to complete degrees or to take courses here on this campus with JMU via this virtual communication.”

He goes on to provide more details of this relationship.

“JMU would also like to create a formal Memorandum of Understanding with us,” he says. “They’re committed to working not only with us, but with the economic development committee to bring education technology to Highland and an avenue for additional resources to us. So we had a real good meeting with them; a real positive meeting and looking forward to continuing to work with them.”

Dr. Crawford also reported to Board members regarding a teleconference attended by several school staff members with Don Soifer of the Lexington Institute to learn more about charter schools. Dr. Crawford pointed out that there would be no cost savings to the school or county by going to a charter school. In fact, it appears that this option would reduce the amount funding to the schools.

However, a charter agreement could allow the school to reduce its budget through adjustments to teacher salaries. Charter schools also typically have the flexibility to hire teachers who do not have the usual training in education or state certification. This could also result in reductions in the school budget.

Superintendent Crawford and school staff members also had a teleconference with Dave Smits from Connections Academy regarding virtual schools. Mr. Smits would like to see the Highland schools become the first statewide virtual school in Virginia. Dr. Crawford suggested that this option also would not provide significant financial advantages for the school.

Students who enrolled at the virtual school could come from across the state. Part of the cost would be shared by the county where the student lives. Highland would then be taking students from other county school systems, so that could raise additional problems. Superintendent Crawford also has plans to talk with representatives from community colleges in western Virginia, to see how collaborations could benefit the Highland schools; he summed up all these efforts.

“I think after we finish this, I think we ought to write a letter highlighting these things that we’ve done, send it to Secretary [of Education for Virginia] Fornash, and then I think we ought to say thank you,” says Crawford. “But I think we have legitimately looked into a couple of the ideas; we will legitimately look into a couple more, but I think it’s up to the board after that to decide whether or not we’re just going to keep moving forward or whether we’re going to look at some of these other options to consider for operating the school system.”

In other business, Superintendent Crawford presented certificates of recognition to the School Board members from the Virginia School Boards Association for School Board Appreciation week. He also noted that February 5through 11 was Principal Appreciation week and he presented certificates to principals April Goff and Teresa Blum. School Board members also recognized Board Clerk, Karen DeVore in appreciation of her devoted service to the Board and in recognition of School Board Clerks Appreciation Week, February 12 through 18.

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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