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Markoe resigns from school post

March 21, 2001

Markoe resigns from school post



CHARLES TOWN, W.Va.

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


Jefferson County Schools Superintendent David W. Markoe resigned at the end of Tuesday night's regular Board of Education meeting, a move that appeared to take board members by surprise.

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Markoe did not mention any problems that might have prompted his resignation, which is effective April 30.

Markoe read aloud a two-page letter highlighting achievements made in the school system during the four years he has been superintendent.

Test scores among students have shown continual improvement and average daily student attendance has improved dramatically, Markoe said.

He listed 22 initiatives that were started during his tenure, including reading programs, a science olympiad, use of career guides, a mentor program for new teachers, the Smithsonian Teacher Naturalist Program and Character Counts.

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Markoe ended the letter by saying, "While there still is some unfinished business, I feel it is in the best interest of everyone that I leave the system at this time."

The meeting ended and Markoe left the room.

The only board member to comment was Board President Larry Togans when he accepted the resignation.

"With regret, Mr. Markoe."

Markoe would not comment after the meeting.

Some administrators gathered outside his office to talk to him after the meeting.

Although Markoe had faced some tough challenges, including a possible budget shortfall this year, Board of Education member Peter Morgens said the board was surprised by the timing of Markoe's resignation.

"It's always tough to find a superintendent. We'll have to go as quickly as we can," said board member Pete Dougherty.

Board member Doris Cline said there had been a difference of opinion among school board members about Markoe's job performance. Cline said she supported Markoe because of the "work and effort he was putting into the school system. He inherited a lot of problems from other years and he faced them," Cline said.

The Board of Education gave Markoe two, two-year contracts and his current contract was to expire June 30. He earns about $76,000.

The challenges facing Markoe included a possible budget shortfall of about $600,000 this year.

Markoe said a number of factors could create a budget shortfall, including lower than projected property tax revenues.

The Board of Education had projected $16 million in tax revenues this fiscal year, but it appears the revenue could fall short by about $359,000, Markoe said.

Markoe had asked school principals to try to find ways to cut back on expenses to avoid a budget shortfall.

Markoe faced problems over his certification as superintendent when he came to Jefferson County.

When Markoe took over the school system in 1997, he said he believed he was certified to be superintendent. The state Department of Education later told Markoe he needed a few more courses for certification. Markoe met the certification requirements before a Dec. 31, 1999, deadline.

The school system also has struggled to find money to build new schools.

Last year, the state turned down a request from the school system for $20 million to build a second high school in the county. The request came after voters rejected a $39 million school construction bond that would have been used to build another high school.

In Berkeley County, the contract for Superintendent of Schools Manny Arvon also expires June 30.

Both Arvon and Berkeley County Board of Education members say they are happy with the direction in which the school system is going and feel confident a new contract for the superintendent will be offered.

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