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Enrollment up in Berkeley, Jefferson county schools

August 21, 2010|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD and TRISH RUDDER
  • Kimberly Agee, the new principal of Eagle School Intermediate, shows Jasmine Reese the class list Friday for the new third-grade in the new third-grade wing. The school added the new wing to accomodate more third-graders.
Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Nearly 29,000 students are expected to be in class Monday for the first day of school in the Eastern Panhandle.

Official head counts will not be known until October, but school administrators in Berkeley and Jefferson counties are projecting enrollment increases that range between 100 and 200 students.

In Jefferson County, school district spokeswoman Gail Woods said the school system is expecting an enrollment increase of more than 130 over last year's total of 8,595.

In Berkeley County, Deputy Superintendent Frank Aliveto estimated a possible 100-to-200-student increase over last year's total of 17,446, but admitted it was too early to be more specific.

To accommodate growth and fill open positions, Berkeley County added at least 92 new teachers to its staff, school district spokeswoman Jaimee Borger said. School administrators have said the economic downturn has actually helped retain teachers this year as well as recruit quality applicants.

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Jefferson County added 45 teachers and had 12 vacancies to fill as of Friday morning, Woods said.

Aside from new teachers, Jefferson County hired former Berkeley County teacher Kelly Osborne to be principal of the district's new school, Driswood Elementary School. A graduate of Jefferson County Schools, Osborne was employed by Berkeley County for 14 years and taught at Marlowe and Winchester Avenue elementary schools, according to school officials.

Driswood is slated to open a week late on Aug. 30 because February's record snowstorms delayed construction, officials have said. The school's 450 students in grades kindergarten to five will start classes at facilities at nearby Sam Michaels Park until the school opens along Job Corps Road, officials have said.

Besides the new school, Woods said additional rooms were added at South Jefferson Elementary School, a project that is part of the school district's plan to eliminate all portable classrooms.

In Berkeley County, the school board approved Kimberly Agee as the new principal of Eagle School Intermediate. The administration also tapped Erica Propst as the new principal of Mill Creek Intermediate School.

Agee, who had served as principal of Mill Creek Intermediate School, began her career in 1997 as a first-grade teacher at Valley View Elementary School and was a member of the staff at Eagle School Intermediate as a fourth-grade teacher when the school opened in 2001, according to the school district.

But Eagle School has grown in size since Agee left.

A wing added to the building in time for the 2010-11 school year will house third-graders from Tuscarora and Opequon elementary schools, Aliveto said.

The transition will free up room for a total of six pre-kindergarten classes at the two elementary schools, Aliveto said. All county school districts are under a state mandate to make pre-kindergarten classes available to all 4-year-olds by the 2012-13 school year.

Agee's departure from Mill Creek opened an opportunity for Propst to become principal after serving as assistant principal at the school.

Propst, who began her career in 1998 as a fourth-grade teacher at Bunker Hill Elementary School, taught kindergarten there for seven years before moving into administration, according to a press release from Borger.

In Morgan County, about 2,600 students will attend all eight schools in the county.

"It's about the same as last year," said Laura Smith, president of the Morgan County Board of Education.

A more accurate account of the number of students will be assessed Sept. 1 and the second month report will be done Oct. 1, said Joan Willard, assistant schools superintendent.

No new principals were needed this year, but 15 new professional certified teachers were hired along with four service personnel, Willard said.

"We had a wonderful response," she said.

This year, "we probably had more teachers respond to the hard-to-fill categories, such as math and science, and were all filled with certified teachers," Willard said.

Instead of visiting colleges to recruit, Willard said Morgan County Schools used the new online system that is available in the state school system, which made it easier to recruit applicants.

"We did not do as much on-site recruiting because we don't have the budget for it," she said.

Several of the new Morgan County teachers are from Pennsylvania and Maryland, and one is from Ohio, she said.

Willard said they attended a recruiting site that combined different Pennsylvania colleges and they found good applicants.

She said Morgan County Schools also recruited from within and were able to offer full-time employment to substitute teachers.

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