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Middle school sports may return to Fauquier County Public Schools

Tuesday, May. 13 | By Hannah Dellinger
Fauquier County public middle school students may once again have the opportunity to participate in the sports programs that were cut in 2012 due to funding issues.

At Monday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Dr. David Jeck presented an information item that if approved, will bring back competitive middle school sports. He announced that Manager of Budget and Operations Marci Cotov was able to determine that there was enough leftover funding from the current fiscal year to possibly allocate into the start-up of next year’s middle school sports season.

Jeck said that because most of the equipment necessary for league standards is gone, there will be a significant start-up fee. He said that about $40,000 per middle school is necessary to start the teams the first year, and that future years will require less funding.

Jeck said that he strives to incorporate the costs into future budgets with on-going local funding, but will have to require a fee of $60 for each participating student in the upcoming season in order to fund the next year’s season.

The proposed plan for middle school sports will require the hire of a middle school sports activities director as soon as possible so that schools can begin planning and organizing teams.

Jeck said that the schools will be responsible for purchasing equipment, hiring coaches and officials, collecting and remitting student fees and providing bus transportation.

Competitive boys and girls basketball, soccer, volleyball and softball are the sports that are proposed to be made available, based on the recommendations of Fauquier County middle school administrators. Jeck said that he plans on continuing the intramural teams as well.

Other school board actions:
Data from an online school quality survey was presented at the meeting. Parents, teachers, students, instructional support staff and administrators gave their input on the survey.

Major trends in the parent surveys showed that the school division’s strengths include good lines of communication, cleanliness of schools and good care for the students. For parents, the weaknesses include few opportunities to participate in decisions, not enough teacher usage of Blackboard, lack of friendliness and acknowledgement toward visitors and either too much or too little homework assigned to students.

The trends in the teacher surveys showed strengths in the area of curriculum and instructional strategies, good amounts of help provided to the students and a welcoming policy towards parents. Teachers saw weaknesses in the school division’s available opportunities for teachers to help craft the academic and financial plans, little involvement for teachers in the school improvement planning process and a need for better communication within the schools.

High school students that were surveyed showed that they feel strengths in the school’s ability to teach the importance of working with others, using technology responsibly and that they have someone at home who is aware of how they are doing in school. The high school students also said that they do not enjoy coming to school, the teachers don’t make learning interesting and that they don’t feel listened to.

“I talked at length to high school students about the surveys,” said Jeck. “I told them that those three [negative] things were troubling to me. When students say that they don’t enjoy coming to school, I interpret that as, ‘I feel bored in school.’ They did seem to agree with that characterization…we can improve that. We can make that a better situation for them.”

Middle school students who participated in the survey showed that they felt same strengths in the school system as the high school students. They’re surveys revealed that that they do not enjoy coming to school, no one in their family attends school events and that they feel that their school are not good at handling bad student behavior and would like to see stronger discipline against school bullies.

Elementary school student surveys showed that their families are aware of how they are doing in school and that the teachers care about them. The weaknesses that their surveys showed included the fact that they do not enjoy going to school, do not feel safe from bullying and that their families don’t attend school events.

“The amount of students at the elementary level that said that they were concerned with bullying was about 20 percent and that is just too high,” said Jeck. “Like every other school division in the country, we have to address that and we have to do a better job of it.”

Instructional staff felt that there should be more opportunities given to help plan and make decisions that affect their areas of responsibility.

Administrators showed in their surveys that they don’t feel that they can freely express opinions and concerns to other administrators and office staff.

Jeck said that the results of the surveys with be used as a starting point for developing trend data and will be taken into account for working to improve the quality of the schools.

At the meeting the Jeck announced a new assistant principal for Greenville Elementary and approved Jeck’s recommendation for Liberty High School’s current Assistant Principal Sam Cox to step into the role of LHS principal for the coming school year.

Action items:
Approval of the special education annual plan.
Approval of the Career and Technical Education program’s Carl Perkins Grant for 2014 through 2015
Approval of a $124,932.62 contract to resurface the FHS gymnasium and buss loop parking lots.
Approval of a $121,030 contract to replace the video surveillance system at LHS.
Approval of the agreement to participate in the school division’s certification with Shenandoah Valley Migrant Education Program.
Approval the adoption of the new science textbooks.
Approval of a resolution to honor the anniversary of the historic Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.

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