Suzanne Stewart\r\nStaff Writer\r\n\r\nAt the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night, members of the School Building Research Committee, led by Jay Miller, presented a proposal to research the reasons behind the failure of the recent proposed school levy.\r\n\r\nMiller, joined by Sue Groves, Michelle Jeffers, David Litsey and Allen Johnson, said the committee, with the support of the board, put forth a plan to survey voters to determine why the levy failed.\r\n\r\n\u201cI\u2019m part of a committee of community residents that wishes to assist the board of education in researching the reasons why the recent school levy referendum did not achieve a majority of support from county voters and also to determine what kind of building referendum could succeed in the future,\u201d Miller said. \u201cWe are all committed to doing what we can to resolve the need to upgrade the school facilities in the county.\u201d\r\n\r\nBoard member Joe Walker addressed the committee and asked why its members did not offer help when the School Levy Committee was promoting the issue.\r\n\u201cSix months ago we were seeking help to pass our levy,\u201d Walker said. \u201cOther than Mr. Litsey, I never saw any of you step forward to help us at that point. Furthermore, Mr. Johnson was our very opposition on the radio. But now we\u2019re sitting here today, and you\u2019re asking us to invite you in to critique our efforts in what we were doing for the county.\u201d\r\n\r\nMiller said he understood that the board was not involved in the initial plans which ultimately led to the call for the levy.\r\n\r\n\u201cIt is my understanding that the proposal that you all were defending up until the election was something that had been put together well over a year ago and that you all were brought in kind of after the fact to defend what had already been proposed,\u201d Miller said.\r\n\r\n\u201cI don\u2019t know where you got that information,\u201d board president Emery Grimes said, \u201cbut that didn\u2019t happen. Jay, you can get a hundred different reasons, but people didn\u2019t vote for the levy because they didn\u2019t want to pay the extra money.\u201d\r\n\r\nMiller countered that the levy received 37 percent of the vote, and he said the committee believes it is possible to get 50 percent plus one, which is all the levy would need to pass, if the levy speaks to the public.\r\n\r\n\u201cWe think that there is a levy or some kind of a measure that could pass that would address sufficient issues that people have that are not directly related to taxes,\u201d Miller said.\r\n\r\nGrimes said the issue is not whether a new levy can get enough votes because the School Building Authority will not offer the same grant that led to this levy.\r\n\r\nLast year, the SBA approved a needs project to repair or replace Marlinton Elementary School, Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School. The grant was contingent upon the county passing a levy. When the levy failed November 8, the grant funding set aside for Pocahontas County was put back into the SBA fund and doled out to other counties.\r\n\r\nPrior to the call to vote on the committee\u2019s request, Walker addressed the collective again and said he appreciated their proposal to help the board, but he could not give his endorsement.\r\n\r\n\u201cI think it would be very nearsighted of us not to realize the effort you\u2019re trying to put forth, nor what it could accomplish to our benefit, however, do understand, for me in particular, this became very personal for me over the course of the last six months, so with that, I hope you understand why I\u2019m not willing to accept your generosity so openheartedly as I normally would have,\u201d Walker said. \u201cI certainly encourage you all to continue to do this at your own will, but at this point, for me to tie myself as a board member to an organization like this, I don\u2019t think it\u2019s in my best interest to do that.\u201d\r\n\r\nJohnson spoke up and said he would be willing to remove himself from the committee if that would change the board\u2019s decision, but Walker said it wouldn\u2019t change his mind.\r\n\r\nMiller said the committee could not go forth without the board\u2019s endorsement because the committee would need access to board employees to get a better understanding of why they did or did not vote for the levy.\r\n\r\nLitsey added that he is very concerned for the schools and the students, and in the end, he will support the board no matter what decision they make.\r\n\u201cI\u2019m afraid,\u201d Litsey said. \u201cI\u2019m afraid for those children at Green Bank that sit next to that repaired boiler. I\u2019m afraid for the kindergarten kid here, if that sprinkler system goes off, I know what\u2019s going to happen to those pipes. We need to, as a county, address those issues.\r\n\r\n\u201cWhatever you guys decide, that\u2019s fine,\u201d he continued. \u201cWe\u2019re going to support you no matter what. We\u2019re going to try to help find the money no matter what because, to me, as a lifelong educator, the concept of potentially a kindergarten kid getting burned up in a school because the system failed is beyond comprehension. We\u2019ll work with you no matter what.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe board unanimously voted against endorsing the School Building Research Committee.\r\n\r\nThe committee did not state whether it will continue with its plan to survey the community.\r\n\r\n<strong>Board approves pursuit of Innovation in Education grant<\/strong>\r\n\r\nMath coach Joanna Burt-Kinderman presented information to the board concerning the grant application for an Innovation in Education grant.\r\n\r\nBurt-Kinderman applied for a similar grant last year, but did not receive the funding. She said she tweaked the proposal and resubmitted this year.\r\n\r\nThe new grant proposal focuses on using STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] education to solve the school\u2019s and possibly the country\u2019s energy issue. The proposal includes a large focus on the vocational department which will help manufacture items designed to solve energy problems.\r\n\r\n\u201cThrough a series of conversations we decided to start with solving the problem of energy \u2013 understanding energy and all its implications,\u201d Burt-Kinderman said. \u201cIt\u2019s a fine time to be doing that in West Virginia \u2013 thinking about the economy of energy; the technologies of energy; the politics of energy. You can see there\u2019s a pretty wide range of use people can do.\u201d\r\n\r\nIf the grant is approved, Pocahontas County High School will receive $300,000 over the course of three years to supply a maker\u2019s space, teacher stipends and funding for a summer institute.\r\n\r\n\u201cThis maker\u2019s space would have a high end 3-D printer and a plasma cutter which means we could basically create our own windmills,\u201d Burt-Kinderman said. \u201cWe could create structures for solar panels. We could create all kinds of stuff.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe grant will include partnerships with Green Bank Observatory and professors at West Virginia University to implement ideas to solve the energy crisis.\r\n\r\nBurt-Kinderman said the grant committee will contact her in December if she is a finalist. At that point, she and Superintendent Terrence Beam or a board member will go through an interview with the grant committee in Charleston. By January, the funds will be released for use.\r\n\r\nBurt-Kinderman said she is asking the board for two things, if the grant is supplied. Once the three years of funding is complete, the board will have to find a way to sustain the program.\r\n\r\n\u201cThe proposal asks you for two things,\u201d she said. \u201cOne, if the students create some major energy saving at the high school, you will give a portion of the savings back to the program to continue to buy materials for the maker\u2019s space. The second thing I\u2019m asking you for is, should this prove to be successful \u2013\u00a0there\u2019s a lot of measures we\u2019re taking \u2013 so if those measures increase graduation rates, GPAs, people\u2019s enjoyment of school, people\u2019s interest in going into STEM fields be it college or vocational, if those things look successful, then you\u2019re promising to continue paying for once a month leadership meetings for staff.\u201d\r\n\r\nThe board thanked Burt-Kinderman for her presentation and asked her to let them know if the grant is approved.\r\n\r\nIn miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:\r\n\r\n\u2022 Andrew \u201cFrosty\u201d McNabb and Steven D. Mick, Jr., as volunteer assistant boys basketball coaches at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2016-2017 season.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Allysa H. Dunbrack as volunteer cheerleading coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2016-2017 season.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Jimmy Vandevender as volunteer assistant boys basketball coach at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2016-2017 season.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Innovation in Education memorandum of understanding between Pocahontas County Board of Education and WV Department of Education.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Policy IKJ \u2013 Pocahontas County Schools Athletic Policy.\r\n\r\nIn personnel management, the board approved the following:\r\n\r\n\u2022 Employment of Tina L. Jackson, as cook for the SPLASH program at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, retroactive to October 10, through the end of the 2016-2017 school\u00a0year, two hours per day, four days per week, at $12 per hour.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Employment of Nikki Alikakos as ELA tutor\/enrichment instructor for Project SPLASH, at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at $20 per hour, effective November 30, for up to 25 weeks, seven hours per week.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Employment of Michael F. Hudson and Aaron L. Pugh as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective November 30, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, as needed, at state basic pay based on degree and experience.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Employment of Jean O. Srodes as wellness coordinator for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, $25 per hour, 28 per week, not to exceed $700 per week.\r\n\r\n\u2022 Employment of the following as wellness coaches for schools as indicated, effective November 30, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, one hour per month, $20 per hour: Katherine LaFleur, Green Bank Elementary-Middle School; Gina A. Hardesty, Hillsboro Elementary School; Diane L. Delfino, Marlinton Elementary School; Jessica A. Hays, Marlinton Middle School; and Abram J. Rittenhouse, Pocahontas County High School.