It started in 2011, when the state Office of Education Performance Audits recommended the state board intervene in Gilmer County. It cited issues with the school board's lack of a comprehensive facility plan, among other issues. But now the state says Gilmer County has made enough progress to start working on its own again, although other issues will have to be worked out before the transfer is complete.
"Probably going to have to have some reductions in force, have to have some layoffs, so that's a big issue. And then the facility issue since we applied for funding again to close the three remaining elementaries and build a new facility," said Gilmer County Superintendent Ron Blankenship.
Blankenship was put in the position by the state in 2011 when it intervened in the county.
The Gilmer County board will soon have control of most aspects of the school system's business except for personnel and facilities matters. Since 2011, the county's facilities plan has been put together and submitted to both the state board and the School Building Authority. Now the county will make history in the state, while bringing it out from under the state's thumb.
"Both those entities approved the plan, and as a result of that, Gilmer and Lewis County went together and applied for a joint school, the first inter-county school in West Virginia," said Blankenship.
The state Board of Education says there's still some time to go before it gives Gilmer County full control, but a state spokesperson says the goal is always to get school systems back to the people who know the students best.
"We also recognize that local systems have interaction with students day in and day out, so ultimately , we trust them to make the best decisions for their students," said state spokesperson Liza Cordeiro.
Gilmer County is one of five counties whose schools are under some level of control by the state, but like Gilmer, most have retained some of their responsibilities.