Virginia Secretary Of Education Has Good News For Highland County Schools

Monterey, Va – Virginia Secretary of Education Laura Fornash had some good news for Highland Schools last week. A delegation from the Secretary met with school and county officials on December 5th. School Board Chairman Kirk Billingsley reported to the Board highlights from this meeting. This was the second meeting this year with a group from the Secretary’s office, looking for ways to develop sustainable funding for the Highland Schools.

“They came back to us, and different story this time; they did come up with some ideas, talked about public charter school,” he says. “They talked about other options that we may have; but they basically said SOQ’s [Standards of Quality] are on the table. Why don’t you guys tell us what you think you need for SOQ’s to be able to educate the children of Highland County and do a good job . “And they also talked a little bit more openly about it we do certain things they can probably help us on the budget front too. So they gave us a list of about four things that we need to accomplish.”

Departing School Board members Kirk Billingsley and Jim Blagg had some final words for the school superintendent, principals and staff at last Thursday’s School Board Meeting. Jim Blagg was first.

“Probably didn’t get all the things done that I wanted to do, but I have a sense that the school system’s in a little better shape than it was when we came in,” he says. “But I’d like to emphasize that the main reason for that is the taxpayers, the staff, parents and the children, it’s a community effort. The bulk of the effort’s inside the borders of the county; most of the progress has been in spite of the state and federal help we’ve got, but I think we’re in a little better shape than we were 4 years ago.”

Next, School Board Chairman Kirk Billingsley made his parting remarks.

“Jim is completely right, you’ve got to thank Highland County,” says Billingsley. “We fund more of our education in Highland County than most counties do on the backs of the taxpayers. We need to thank the Supervisors for that, we need to thank the taxpayers for that. We spend a lot of money for children, that is true, however it’s just to meet the Standards of Quality at this point in time. It’s not because we have special programs, just trying to meet the SOQ’s. I think our staff does a wonderful job; we’ve got super leadership as far as our Principals as well as our Superintendent – I feel good stepping down at this point in time.”

Superintendent Dr. William Crawford, closed the meeting with a presentation to the departing Board members.

“It is my pleasure on behalf of the community to say thank you to Mr. Billingsley and Mr. Blagg for your four years of service,” says Dr. Crawford. “I’d like to present each of you with a plaque; and the plaque reads In appreciation for four years of dedicated service as a school board member in Highland County public schools’ and it’s presented by the Highland County schools and it’s presented on December the 8th, 2011, congratulations.”

The next meeting of the Highland County School Board will be Thursday, January 12 at 7 PM in the High School Library.

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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