At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night, the board discussed the upcoming excess levy for the school and received an update on how the funding will be used if it is passed in the November election.
Treasurer Sherry Radcliff reported that the School Building Authority [SBA] has approved $11 million for Phase One of the renovation plan for school buildings. Phase One will fund renovations to Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
Phase Two is for renovations to Pocahontas County High School or construction of a new high school facility.
If passed, the levy will raise more than $9 million, which will cover matching funds for both phases. The levy is designed to cover both phases because the SBA is more likely to fund the high school project if the matching funds are already in place.
“We’re putting all our eggs in one basket, trying to get one levy passed,” Superintendent Terrence Beam said. “[SBA executive director David Sneed] told me, after consulting with the architects, that they are very concerned about the condition of the high school being so bad that renovations won’t be enough to fix it.”
When the levy was first drafted, the plan was to simply renovate PCHS. Now, Beam said Sneed suggested the board apply to get a new facility built.
“The question I had for him was, ‘how much money do we have to come up with on our side of it to get a new high school,’” Beam said. “[Sneed] said, ‘we understand that these rural counties don’t have the tax base to come up with the kind of money for a fifty-fifty split.’ If we run this levy and pass it, it’ll be done. He led me to believe that they would be very supportive in trying to get our high school done at the same time.”
Beam added that Sneed offered to attend a board meeting to discuss the changes with the board.
The excess levy will be placed on the November ballot.
Campbell updates board on Legislative session
Delegate Denise Campbell gave an update to the board concerning the recent legislative session in Charleston.
Campbell jokingly said she ‘survived the session,’ adding that several pieces of legislation concerning education were addressed.
Among the bills discussed were ones concerning Charter Schools, Common Core and the school calendar.
Campbell said she was concerned about each of those bills because of the impact they would have on students in West Virginia, especially rural counties like Pocahontas.
“Some of the concerns we had because of the situation of the state budget – I think everyone agrees that probably Charter Schools in theory can have some positive things – but you have to think about rural West Virginia,” she said. “When we have schools that are barely able to function the way they are – if we have state funded Charter Schools – that would be funds that we take away from counties. If you have a Charter School in your county, a portion of your money is going to go to that Charter School.”
Campbell was also worried about repealing Common Core Standards because the alternative that was suggested didn’t seem viable or helpful for the students. The bill suggested after repealing Common Core, a transitional standard would be used until a new set of standards could be put in place.
Campbell said that if this was authorized, students could be subjected to three different kinds of standards in three years.
“It’s really hard to try to make that change in that short of a period of time,” she said. “I think the legislature heard that. I have to say ‘yea to Pocahontas County’ because teachers were sending emails to legislators with their concerns.”
In the end, Campbell said she is always looking out for the students and what is best for them.
“Our ultimate goal is that every student succeeds,” she said. “Just because we don’t like one thing, we can’t just do away with everything all at one time. I think some of us had some concerns. If we want to make changes, we’ve got to have a plan of – what are you going to replace it with and does it have actual facts and data to support it that is beneficial to the students.”
The board thanked Campbell for her update.
• Beam recognized PCHS ProStart teacher Teresa Mullen and her students for their participation in the eighth grade luncheon at Snowshoe Mountain Resort. Mullen and her students held a Q&A session with the eighth grade students, offering insight into the program.
Beam also recognized the archery team which recently competed on the state level. The middle school team and members of the elementary school team qualified to compete in nationals.
• Student representative Emily Boothe gave a report on the students and faculty at PCHS.
Colton Massey placed first at regional math field day and Taylor Tegtmeyer was runner-up. Both students are freshmen. Senior Marilyn Creager placed in the top 10 of the senior high regional math field day.
Forestry teacher Scott Garber was asked to present at the Society of American Foresters meeting on April 29 in Charleston. He will present on behalf of the PCHS forestry program.
Business education teacher Cammy Kesterson was elected eastern vice president of the West Virginia Business Education Association and is now a member of the executive board.
Boothe also reported that the baseball, softball and track teams are in high gear. The baseball team won against Richwood and lost to Pendleton. The next home game is Friday at 4 p.m. against Tucker County High School.
The softball team won against Meadow Bridge and has several games this week.
The track team traveled to Richwood Thursday for its first meet of the year.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
• Memorandum of Agreement between the Pocahontas County Board of Education and West Virginia University Cooperative Extension Service, and the County Extension Service Committee, beginning July1, supplementing the cooperative agreement covering Cooperative Extension work in Pocahontas County, in accordance with the Code of West Virginia, 1931, Chapter 19, Article 8, as amended and reenacted by the 1963 legislature, at an appropriation amount of $5,000.
• The following Excess Levy documentation: An Order of the Board of Education of the County Pocahontas directing an election to be held to authorize tax levies for the fiscal years beginning July 1, 2017, July 1, 2018, July 1, 2019, July 1, 2020 and July 1, 2021; Notice of Election, November 8, 2016 – Special Election to Authorize Additional School Levy; Official Special Levy Ballot, Board of Education Pocahontas County, West Virginia, Levy Election, Tuesday, November 8, 2016.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Eric J. Rose as volunteer assistant track coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.
• Nicholas P. Cooper as volunteer assistant baseball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.
• David L. Moore as volunteer assistant baseball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Employment of Tina Jackson as Cook for Project SPLASH at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective March 30 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, two hours per day, four days per week, at $12 per hour.
• Employment of Tom Madison as activity and extracurricular bus driver for Project SPLASH at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective March 30 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at a supplement based on daily rate of pay plus $50 for actual days that activity runs are required.
• Employment of Dondi Stemple as teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2016-2017 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Employment of Phillip Anderson as principal at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2016-2017 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience plus equity, includes state minimum salary increment schedules. Term of employment is 220 days.
• Continuing contract of Kristy L. Tritapoe as assistant principal/athletic director at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2016-2017 school year.
• Employment of Nicholas P. Cooper and Eric J. Rose as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective March 30 or upon completion of the RESA online substitute training program, through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.
• Change in classification of Dorthie I. Shamblin from itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Middle School, to paraprofessional/itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide at Marlinton Middle School, retroactive to March 12.
The next board meeting is Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m., in the board of education conference room.