Questions, concerns addressed during Town Hall meeting

Hancock County Schools Superintendent Tim Woodward (standing) listens to a question in the audience of the Oak Glen High School Theatre during a Town Hall meeting held Wednesday. (Photo by Steve Rappach)

NEW CUMBERLAND — Parents and teachers in Hancock County had an opportunity to voice concerns and ask questions about the county schools with Wednesday’s Town Hall meeting, this time at the Oak Glen High School Theatre.

A little over 50 people were in attendance for the open forum hosted by Superintendent Tim Woodward, who took questions from the audience on just about everything dealing with the county schools, and also provided some of the county’s latest goals, plans and statistics.

Members of the audience had an opportunity to ask about anything involved in the school system to which Woodward would provide answers if he had knowledge on that topic, but were advised that some topics–such as particular personnel–could not be discussed by law.

Many of the topics discussed during the nearly 90-minute forum included advisory teams, programs for special needs students, testing for students, issues with drug problems, free lunches, inclusion of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, programs for home-schooled students and block scheduling, to name a few.

Prior to opening the floor, Woodward talked about the importance of holding the town hall sessions, which he said he likes to do on a regular basis, and stated his interest in hearing input from the public and what the community’s concerns can be.

“For those of you who have been around, you know I’m a strong believer that communities and schools have to function together,” Woodward said. “We can’t work in isolation of each other because I’ve never really been in a community or in a good, thriving community where schools and communities didn’t work together and aim for success.”

Woodward also took time to acknowledge the success of Hancock County schools, which was the fifth highest county out of 55 in West Virginia for student grades, and also praised the staff, faculty, school board, parents and the community who worked to achieve the success, which was met with applause.

“Some of our elected officials like to remind us that (West Virginia) is 50th in everything,” Woodward said. “Hancock County is 50th in nothing. Our kids are coming out at 76 percent at post-secondary education…I worked in a county as a superintendent that 32 percent went on.”

Woodward has also mentioned that enrollment has increased and added that all teachers in the county have met the proper certifications to teach in the county.

“We have no uncertified teachers. Why? Because they want to come here,” Woodward said. “We have a very good system. We’re sitting on a goldmine, and we just got to build it up.”

Woodward said that the system will be working with local businesses, one mentioned being Weirton Medical Center, that will work with students in education programs amongst other aspects, and will also be holding County Advisory Team meetings starting Oct. 18 along with professional and teacher advisory meetings in the future.

Woodward also discussed the county’s finances, which have improved to the point that the county may possibly leave the state financial watch list. In addition, Woodward also advised parents to contact him or administration if they have any questions or concerns about the district.