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Future of Wyaconda School In Doubt

By Mike Scott

The future of the Wyaconda C-1 school district is in doubt, but the administration and school board won’t be going down without a fight.
The school was placed on the state’s “unaccredited” list in May of 2006, and was given two years to attain the state mandated Annual Performance Report (APR) goals.   The school earned a 3 of of a possible 9 points, and the state target was 4 points.
Those goals are higher than the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals set in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which the school surpassed.
In  mid November, Administrator Karla Matlock, who started in Wyaconda in the fall of 2006,  found out the school had fallen short of those APR goals, and was notified that the state intended to take action.  The district notified staff, students, and patrons that the district may close on June 30, 2008
“Dissolving the school is probably going to be the recommendation,” DESE Area Supervisor Ron McSorley said.  “I think the concern from the commissioner is that the district was not at accreditation standard for APR for the last four years.
The district had been placed on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) “Provisionally Accredited” list in 2003, giving the school a chance to make improvements.  The problem is, neither Matlock or the previous administrator, knew anything about that notification.  DESE provided them with a copy of the 2003 letter.
What happens now?
“The board has hired an attorney to represent us. They’re doing everything they can, because they feel they owe that to our students,  staff, and patrons.  We’re still clinging to hope that there is something we can do,” Matlock added.
“Ron McSorley has said all along that this is not our students’ fault.  He felt like in the last year and a half, we’ve really started to transition these students,” Matlock said.
“We have shown improvement in scores,” Matlock said.  “We’ve done everything they’ve asked, and we’ve tried, but we were so far down, it’s hard to dig out.  This is not our students’ fault, and we’re trying to stress that.”
In January, DESE will host a public meeting to gather community input about the district. 
“This will give the patrons the opportunity to give comments.  They will take into consideration what they get from the public comment,” McSorley said.
The state board of education will have the final decision about closing the district, and will probably take action in February or March, according to McSorley.
If the district is dissolved, Wyaconda’s students will be sent to either Clark County or Scotland County, or perhaps both.  The current Wyaconda district includes areas of both counties.
“The state is saying they will definitely have to go to a K-12 district,” Matlock said, which would eliminate possibility of attending Luray or Gorin.
“I think these children can go to either school and get a quality education.  We will work to make sure they transition into the assigned school,” Matlock said.