At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday afternoon, superintendent Terrence Beam gave an update on make-up days and when the school year will end.
Beam explained that the report he gave last week to The Pocahontas Times was as up-to-date as possible, but there have been changes since then, which he clarified.
“As of right now, we’re looking at June 13 as the last day for students,” he said. “Wetzel County is the 24th of June and Marion County is the 22nd of June, so it could be worse. Our kids are going to get spring break. They are not going to be in school spring break.”
Unlike what was reported last week, Beam said the teachers will most likely not be working during spring break now that the students are required to make up work stoppage days. If the teachers worked during spring break, then they would have too many work days, which would cause issues.
“We’ve got more information now, and it’s a possibility that the teachers will not be working spring break or at least, all of spring break because what we have to understand is, it doesn’t matter if it’s snow days, strike days or whatever kind of days – kids have to be in school 180 days, and if I have the teachers work off too much time before the kids finish their 180 days, they will go without teachers.”
All teachers have a 200 day contract and students are required to have 180 days of instruction. Beam explained that it’s a balancing act of making sure the teachers don’t go over 200 days so that they are at school with the students to finish the 180 days.
Board members shared concerns for families who have already planned vacations which will now run into the school year because of the addition of make-up days. As Beam reported last week, the employees will not be penalized if they have scheduled vacations that cannot be rescheduled. He added that students will be treated in the same manner.“I’ve already instructed [Ron Hall, director of attendance], and he’s agreed to it – he does understand that people have already made plans – and we’re not going to be sending truant officers to their house to try to find them.”
Graduation, standardized testing and final exams will not be altered by the make-up days, either.
• Pocahontas County High School student and boy scout Alan Gibson gave a presentation of his proposed Eagle Scout project. Gibson, who has been a member of Boy Scout Pack #33 for five years, is preparing to gain the Eagle Scout rank, for which he must complete a project.
“You have to progress through the ranks to get your Eagle Scout,” Gibson said. “I’m currently at Life Scout which is two ranks below Eagle. Eagle Scout is the highest honor in Boy Scouts. Actually, right after this meeting, I’m going over to the Boy Scout room and test for my Star Scout, the rank before Eagle, so that I can get this project on the road.”
Gibson is planning a Pumpkin Palooza at Marlinton Middle School the Friday before the Autumn Harvest Festival and RoadKill Cook-off. The event will include a corn maze, pumpkins and sunflowers which will be grown by the students.
The crops will be sold at the event and any leftovers will be donated to the food pantry.
Gibson has applied for several grants and has received more than his estimated cost of $1,200. He is currently working to organize volunteers and partnerships with the Extension Service and Grow Appalachia.
There is still a lot of planning and implementation to get the project finished, but Gibson said he is excited to see it all come together and hopefully become an annual event.
“It takes a lot of time and dedication,” Gibson said of becoming an Eagle Scout. “We have a lot of fun [in scouts]. I really can’t describe it that well. It’s just a great thing. I wish more people would do it.”
The board thanked Gibson for his presentation and his project which will benefit MMS and the community.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Amended agreement between the Pocahontas County Board of Education and Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation for the construction of an access trail on the Marlinton Elementary School property.
• Marlinton Elementary School fifth grade students to travel by chartered bus to Jamestown, Williamsburg and Busch Gardens May 2 through May 4. All costs will be paid for by school funds.
• Marlinton Middle School eighth grade students to travel by chartered bus to Jamestown, Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Busch Gardens on May 29 through 30. All costs will be paid for by school funds.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Resignation of Joann V. Estep, due to retirement, as secretary III at Marlinton Elementary School, effective at the end of the 2017-2018 school year.
The next board meeting will be Monday, April 9, beginning at 3:45 p.m. with a work session with the staff of Green Bank Elementary-Middle School at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org