Board working on accreditation issues

COUNTY — School District of Pickens County superintendent Kelly Pew and board chairman Alex Saitta issued a joint statement last week in an attempt to keep the public informed on efforts to comply with the recent AdvancED accreditation report, assuring local residents that the board is “committed to responding constructively” to the report’s concerns.

Although recommending accreditation for the district, the report also found concerns in the areas of board management and governance.

According to the statement, the board is working with Dr. Wayne “Dempsey” Worner, a former dean of the Virginia Tech school of education and a noted facilitator and consultant.

Worner has more than 50 years of experience as a teacher, coach, administrator, superintendent, professor and dean of a major collegiate program and has also worked successfully with numerous school boards in the southeast to address “best practices” and board governance issues, the statement said.

“He is a noted educator, speaker and contributor to the public debate regarding education issues,” the statement said. “Dr. Worner’s life-long passion, as evidenced by his career and successes, is strengthening and stabilizing public educational opportunities in all areas. Dr. Worner has worked extensively with a variety of school boards — small, large, rural, urban, and everything in between — to ensure that their focus remains at all times on student achievement and that they do not become distracted by outside issues.”

According to the release, the board is addressing AdvancED’s concerns in “a practical manner” and developing a course of action to make improvements with the help of Worner and legal counsel.

“All board members are committed to improving the operations of our system of governance, and we assure the community that we will solicit and accept input from all citizens, as we acknowledge the importance of public education to our society,” the statement said. “As board members we will not shirk our responsibilities as we address this important need to better integrate the overall leadership of the educational effort in our county.”

An AdvancED representative is scheduled to conduct a follow-up visit to the district in April.