Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday afternoon, board members discussed options for the current board office, as well as funding sources for future projects.

Superintendent Terrence Beam began by asking the board for guidance moving forward with plans for the current board office. Once the central office staff is moved to the new location at the former Moose Lodge in Buckeye, Beam said there are several options as to what can be done with the old building.

“One of the things that you’re going to have to think about – and this will have to become an actual item on the agenda probably at the next meeting or soon thereafter – if the board is interested in a public auction or donating it to a non-profit organization or consider other options,” Beam said. “It would require approval no matter what we do.”

Along with housing the board office, the building is also used by Parks and Recreation and the Pocahontas County Art Guild. Beam said the latter has already made plans to move to a new location, but he said Parks and Rec has not made a decision, yet.

Beam said he spoke to Parks and Rec director Lauren Bennett and she stated the board will meet this week to discuss its options.

“She’ll let me know what their intentions are,” he said.

Beam said he also asked director of transportation and student services Ruth Bland to present another option they have discussed.

“With the bus loading and unloading situation on Ninth Street – we still have problems with cars passing the buses,” she said. “If the building that we’re in was not there, then there could be an ingress there to be able to safely let the children off on the school property rather than on the city street.

“That’s just an idea, but I don’t know if it could come to fruition or not,” she continued. “That means you would have to change the direction of your buses. You could have a circular driveway there. You would take up part of your playground because you would want to unload the students as close to the building as you can – so you may have to shift that playground down if that is even possible.”

The board agreed with Bland that the idea would be beneficial for the students.

The options will be considered and placed on the agenda as a voting item at a later meeting.

The board also discussed options for funding future projects, including replacing and installing new alarm systems in the schools. Board member Joe Walker explained that an alarm system for Green Bank Elementary-Middle School is included in the MIP [Major Improvement Plan] application to the West Virginia School Building Authority which the board hopes will be funded, but there is no plan for the other schools at this time.

Walker said the board needs to consider options for ways to improve the schools which do not include going to the SBA for funding.

“If there’s one thing we have to do it is maintain the safety of our kids,” he said. “There’s nothing more worthwhile than that. If we can’t do that, then why are we here?”

In discussing the MIP, Walker asked Beam to give a report on the MIP project that is underway at Pocahontas County High School to replace the sewage system and water tower.

“I haven’t been real satisfied with the pace of getting this project done,” Beam said. “I contacted Randy Jones who is the CEO of OWPR and informed him of that fact. I just felt like the wheels were turning too slowly, and we want to have this project done by the time school starts in August.”

Beam said he spoke with a representative at the SBA who stated that the paperwork for the project was only recently filed with the office.

“That tells me that OWPR – and they may do a fine job on this project and they may do a better job now that I’ve kind of jumped them a little bit – but it was kind of insinuated that the SBA was holding up the process, and the SBA wanted to make sure that I knew it was not them. I contacted Randy and told him I feel good about their company, but I don’t feel good about the pace of this project thus far. I’m hoping to see some immediate results from it.”

Beam said he would keep the board informed on the progress of the project.

In presentations:

• The Pocahontas County High School forestry class gave a presentation to the board about the cruise project the students did at the BOE property in Green Bank. The students divided into three groups to present the findings concerning the timber on the land and gave their recommendations on how the board should move forward.

See next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times for a more in-depth article on the project.

• Student representative Hunter Wilfong reported that the spring sports season has been off to a rocky start due to weather issues. The softball team has had four games and won two. The track team had a meet at Oak Hill and received first place in Single A. The girls team placed third and the boys team placed sixth. The boys 4×8 team won first place and Cora Hedrick won first place in the two-mile event.

In special recognitions:

• Beam announced the Young Writers Contest winners. Hillsboro Elementary School – Eli Beazley, Molly Cook and Kailey Pritt. Marlinton Elementary School – Ireland Withers, Gavin Jordan and Kirsten Friel. Marlinton Middle School – Gavin Walls and Haley Smith-Hayhurst. Green Bank Elementary-Middle School – Nadia Elizabeth Kerr, Claire Buzzard, Maddie Ray and Sierra Cassell. Pocahontas County High School – Kira Bircher. 

County winners were Ireland Withers, Claire Buzzard, Gavin Walls, Sierra Cassell and Kira Bircher.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• 2018-2019 school calendar.

• Justin M. Kerr as volunteer assistant softball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2017-2018 season.

• Teresa Mullen to transport seven students to the Sullivan Universities Culinary Campus, Louisville, Kentucky, departing Pocahontas County High School on April 26 and returning April 27.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Consent to change Katherine LaFleur from Title I reading specialist at Marlinton Elementary School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to Title I reading specialist at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2018-2019 school year.

• Requested transfer of Leah Shinaberry from teacher of mathematics at Pocahontas County High School to librarian/media specialist at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective April 11, for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience.

• Consent to change for Nicole A. Dilley from itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Elementary School to itinerant special education classroom aide/ bus aid at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2018-2019 school year.

See probationary and continuing contract employments in next week’s edition.

The next board meeting will be Monday, April 23, beginning with a work session with the staff at Pocahontas County High School at 3:45 p.m. at Pocahontas County High School.