Page County Public Schools kick off ’23-’24 school year with momentum

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Luray Elementary
Among 370 schools in a consortium in Virginia, Luray Elementary had the second-highest percentage of improvement in SOL scores last year.

By Randy Arrington

LURAY, Aug. 30 — With buses hitting the road and the start of classes on Monday morning, summer is officially over and the 2023-24 school year is officially underway…and there’s both reason to celebrate and to be optimistic about the future of Page County Public Schools.

Not only do teachers start the year after receiving 12-percent salary increases over the last two years (10 percent was state-mandated), numerous building and maintenance upgrades have been completed as well. HVAC work has been done at nearly every school in the division, including the installation of climate control systems (air conditioning) for the first time ever in the gymnasiums of Luray Middle School and Page County Middle School. Much of the work was done with federal and state grant funds.

There is new technology, new safety procedures, new nutritional programs, new mentoring programs, new policies, and new teachers — although PCPS retained 94 percent of its overall staff, and 90 percent of its teaching staff. The division also retained 100 percent of its principals, directors and supervisors.

“There are very few new faces in our leadership, which I think really lends itself to a very positive ’23-’24 school year,” Dr. Paul Johnson, assistant superintendent of human resources and operations, said during last Thursday’s school board meeting.

While making final preparations for the upcoming year, school officials paused for a few moments last week to note accomplishments and progress made during the previous school year. Among the many bullet points noted, none provided more momentum and inspiration for the current school year than the local division’s ranking for improvements in benchmark assessments.

Among the 52 Virginia school divisions and 370 in-state schools participating in this consortium, Page County Public Schools “ranked fourth-highest in improvements last year for SOL scores,” according to Dr. Antonio Fox, PCPS superintendent.

“That is a testament to the instructional work that’s being done to get kids back up to par, to get them advanced, to get kids who are below to show growth, and kids who are above to show some acceleration,” Dr. Fox told the school board on Aug. 24.

“We are very proud of that,” the superintendent added, “but we are not resting on our laurels. Our goal is to be No. 1 next year…but No. 4 among 52 school divisions, we are excited about that.”

Out of the 370 schools participating, Luray Elementary School was No. 2 for its overall percentage of improvement last year on standardized testing. Stanley Elementary was ranked 14th.

During their first meeting in August, Dr. Fox outlined an anticipated enrollment of 2,978 students to start the school year, compared to 3,029 students recorded in April. It will take a couple fo weeks for official numbers to shake out for the new year. ADM enrollment, which is a calculated figure used to support state funding figures, was budgeted at 2,850 — compared to 2,986 last year.

On Tuesday, Governor Glenn Youngkin issued a proclamation calling the members of the General Assembly into special session on Sept. 6, to pass amendments to the 2023-24 appropriations act. The delay in the state budget caused numerous problems with the school budgeting process this cycle. Although Page County lost the potential of an additional $2 million from the state for schools, there seems little hope that any action taken next month will replenish those potential funds.

Despite the budgeting roller coaster that state legislators put localities on this year, PCPS has a great deal of momentum heading into the new school year.

“We do have a lot to celebrate,” school board chair Megan Gordon said on Thursday.

To learn more about Page County Public Schools,




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