Kelly Taber\r\n\r\nAllegheny Mountain Radio\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nPocahontas County Board of Education members voted on several measures on Monday evening, including a new policy for substitute personnel and financial support for high school band members on their way to a national competition in Pennsylvania this weekend.\r\n\r\nPocahontas County High School marching band competed last week at a regional event in Hurricane, and qualified for the Atlantic Coast Championship of the Tournament of Bands Conference to be held in Hershey, Pennsylvania.\r\n\r\nThe band will perform in the tournament on Saturday morning, said Robert Mann, band director. Pocahontas County is the only band representing the state of West Virginia at the tournament.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt\u2019s a really awesome opportunity for our kids,\u201d Mann told the Board on Monday.\r\n\r\nHe requested assistance with the cost of transportation and board members voted to cover the cost of county bus transportation not to exceed $1,000. Band members have raised money for the cost of hotel lodging on Friday and tickets to Hershey amusement park. The band will return Saturday evening.\r\n\r\nBoard members approved a substitute policy stating that service personnel (cooks, custodians, aids, and bus drivers, for instance) must designate two schools that they will agree to substitute on a regular basis and must accept at least 50 percent of requested days that they are called for work. The new policy will go into effect July 1, 2015.\r\n\r\nBoard members also adopted a new West Virginia State Board of Education policy regarding students with exceptionalities. The new policy is more than 150 pages and includes some substantial changes, said Ruth Bland, Director of Special Education.\r\n\r\n\u201cSpecial education staff has already received continuing education on this policy,\u201d Bland told the Board.\r\n\r\nBoard members discussed the issue of alternative education for middle school students. Currently, middle school students in need of alternative education for an extended time \u2013 as opposed to a short-term detention for discipline issues \u2013 are sent to the high school.\r\n\r\nBland praised the current alternative education program at the high school but questioned the efficacy of mixing middle school students with high school students.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe Board has really wallered around this question several times,\u201d said Board President Emery Grimes. \u201cWe need to figure out a way to fund alternative education at the middle school.\u201d\r\n\r\nSherry Radcliff, director of finance for the Board, questioned the availability of dollars in the budget for middle school alternative education. Radcliff also briefed the board on a recent conference she attended sponsored by West Virginia Association of School Business Officials. She handed out a PowerPoint from the conference that cited state budget revenue declines and said there likely will be future budget cuts.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019ll tell you right now, it is bleak,\u201d Radcliff said, referencing the financial outlook for state school systems. \u201cThere will be cuts in our 2016 year, so we need to be looking out.\u201d\r\n\r\nShe also noted several events this week to raise awareness about the upcoming school levy vote.\r\n\r\nSuperintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel apprised the Board of several employment changes in the county:\r\n\r\nStephanie L. Barkley, as Secretary III\/Accountant III (half-time assignment in central office), effective October 29;\r\n\r\nKevin Stitzinger, as Substitute Teacher, effective October 29;\r\n\r\nDiane Arbogast, as Substitute Secretary\/Accountant , effective October 29; and\r\n\r\nresignation of Jessica E. Cole as Substitute Aid and Substitute Secretary\/Accountant as of October 15.\r\n\r\nThe Board also approved revenue and expenditures as well as vendor claims for the month of September.\r\n\r\nThe next regular board meeting will be Monday, November 10, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.