Bertie schools yield disappointing test scores

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 25, 2007

WINDSOR – Of all the schools in Bertie County, only one last year met the academic standards set forth by the state of North Carolina.

C.G. White Middle School, which closed at the end of the 2006-2007 school year, was that one school.

&uot;C.G. White met all the expectations, both AYP (Annual Yearly Progress) and the ABC accountability model’s expected and high standards,&uot; stated Interim Superintendent of schools Dr. Michael Priddy.

He continued, &uot;At this point early indications are that no one else within the school system met those expectations.&uot;

Principal Wayne Mayo led the county’s one successful school. In a joint press conference with Priddy, Mayo explained how C.G. White came to achieve such an accomplishment.

&uot;We’ve done a lot of innovative things. We had high expectations for all students,&uot; he said.

Mayo stated that it was his policy not to wait for a child to fall behind before offering help. He also credited much parental and community support, supplemental materials and a school-wide reading program. Each student was required to read books on a weekly basis.

&uot;We had to inspect what we expected,&uot; Mayo said. &uot;We looked at areas of weakness and we focused on those.&uot;

Mayo began with Bertie County Schools in 1994. With the close of C.G. White and his former success there, he has been promoted to provide curricular and instructional leadership in math and science for all schools within the county.

This year, the 200-plus students from C.G. White will join the 500-odd students from Southwestern Middle School at the new consolidated Bertie Middle School.

Priddy also expressed his disappointment in the other schools that did not make AYP or ABC last year.

&uot;We are very disappointed in the results of our schools last year as measured by standardized tests,&uot; he stated.

Priddy said it was his belief that a finding a permanent superintendent is essential for community support.

&uot;The search is proceeding in a careful, thoughtful, methodical way,&uot; he elaborated.

Priddy’s temporary contract with the school system, which has already been renewed once, expires at the end of September.

&uot;The new superintendent has the potential for having a successful experience here, but it’s going to take a radical, cultural change in the system in order for that to be attained,&uot; he stated.

Priddy revealed that additional QZAB (Quality Zoned Academic Bonds) had become available to the school system which will allow for further renovation of Bertie High School (BHS).

If obtained, the new QZAB funds will be used to fix the school’s electrical and plumbing systems.

Currently, a previous pot of QZAB money is being used to fix the roof and the heating and air system.

&uot;We need a new high school, but we don’t have the means or the plans to have one right now so we’ve got to take care of what we have,&uot; Priddy explained.

He continued, &uot;I have never seen a school facility that is in a worse state as BHS is. It needs to be replaced.&uot;

Priddy went on to say that in five years, BHS should be made up of three schools of 350-400 each instead of the traditional 1100 or so total students.

&uot;That should go a long way toward improving overall academic performance and quality of education,&uot; Priddy said.

The sub-schools will be made up of the new STEM program, the Early College program and the regular courses at BHS.

Priddy said the school system was very grateful to the Bertie County Commissioners for the vital role they’ve played in attempting to improve the school system this last academic year.

&uot;The commissioners have provided more local funds for the school district than at any other time and gave a higher percent increase than any other time as well. That’s a very important step of good faith on their part and it is beneficial to the school district,&uot; Priddy stated.

He went on, &uot;There is always the same state money, but local money is how you hire more teachers and do other extra things.&uot;

Priddy also revealed that this year BHS is adding a second SRO (School Response Officer) to help keep the school safe.

&uot;We’re moving to two SRO’s at BHS this year to aid in security and there will also be one at Bertie Middle School,&uot; he stated.

Priddy said that the school system is offering a $2,000 supplement to SRO’s in addition to the regular salary they receive from the Bertie County Sheriff’s Office.