State of the Schools

By: Susan Bahorich
By: Susan Bahorich

The school year is far from over, but already Rockingham County is evaluating its schools.

Tuesday, the Rockingham Educational Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce hosted a state of schools report.

Money may be tight, but Superintendent John Kidd says Rockingham County schools are thriving.

"We believe we will have 18 or 19 schools reach full accreditation status," said Kidd. "That results place us in the top 10 percent in all Virginia school districts with respect to performance on the SOL tests."

And that's something to cheer about. Just four years ago, when SOLs became required- not one school in the county reached full-accreditation. Now Rockingham is a model for the state. But it didn't come without costs.

The school system doubled the amount of time students spend in algebra & geometry and increased their pass rate from 45 to 90-percent. During the past five years, the student teacher ratio has gone from 20-1 to 16-1. And SOL after school prep classes have been added to help elementary and middle students.

These methods are the tip of the iceberg, but they alone cost the schools more than $2.3 million. And, with a budget surplus and rumor of impending cuts, school officials have their work cut out for them.

"This is not the first time the Commonwealth has gone thru a deficit, but it's the worse deficit we ever had," said Secretary of Education Belle Wheelan. "Ten years ago in '92 we had budget reversions because of the economy as well. It makes things tougher - standards are there, but it's a chance for people to think creatively."


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