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BOE pursuing technology grant

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At Monday night’s meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education gave technology coordinator Ruth Bland permission to pursue a grant through Polycom and Frontier.

Bland explained that the grant – which ranges from $50,000 to $500,000 – is a joint grant with Webster County Schools and, if received, will be used to purchase new technology for the schools.

“I’ve taken on the responsibility of being the heavy lifter in this grant writing endeavor with Frontier and with Polycom,” Bland said. “We could get up to six or seven Polycom units which are video conferencing units. We’re looking at having STEM [Science, Technology, Engineer and Math] activities for our after-school programs. There are other entities in the state that are asking to be a partner in this to be able to provide those programs for those students.”

The grant will also be used to purchase laptops, smartboards and any other technology needed to implement the Polycom units in the classrooms.

The units will allow events to be “beamed” out to other schools and could be used for professional development with RESA IV, Bland said. Instead of driving to Summersville for training, teachers could watch the training at the board office.

The technology is currently used by Spanish teacher Shirlene Groseclose who teaches Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School Spanish students from her classroom at Pocahontas County High School.

“Webster County is very, very interested in how we are doing our Spanish Level 1A and 1B,” Bland said. “They actually had to hire another teacher to be able to do middle school Spanish, and we are doing it with one teacher, and we are beaming it out to the middle schools.”

Applications for the grant are due by March 16.

In other news:

• Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton addressed the board with concerns from Marlinton Town Council concerning the proposal to move Marlinton Elementary School out of town limits.

Felton presented the board with a copy of a resolution council passed stating its opposition to moving the school.

“I want you to think of this from the perspective of municipalities – not just Marlinton – but in the state,” Felton said. “West Virginia Municipal League has included in some of its plans for coming years that organizations like the board and the town, and the county commission and even individual organizations – we’re going to have to keep each other in mind as we make these decisions.”

If the school moves, Felton said it would be a great strain on the town, financially because the school is a large town water customer.

“It would take fifty-one other residences in this town to equal this school as far as our water system is concerned,” he said. “You take the school out of that mix and how long is it going to take, or how likely is it going to be that I attract fifty-one other residences in this downtown area?”

Superintendent Terrence Beam told Felton he understands the strain on the town. Beam explained that the decision will not be taken lightly, but the board has to keep in mind what is best for the students and where they are able to get funding to repair the school.

“We’re faced – like the city is – with ways to try to meet the needs of our students,” Beam said. “We applied for funds from the School Building Authority which is an extension of the State board of education, to try to fix our schools and they will not fund us if the school is located in a floodplain.”

Beam said it would cost an estimated $6 to 8 million to repair Marlinton Elementary School where it is now, and that money would have to be raised in the community because the state will not provide funding as long as the building is located in the floodplain.

The board thanked Felton for his concerns and told him they will take them into consideration when making decisions with regard to Marlinton Elementary School.

In updates:

• Beam recognized county spelling bee winners: first place, Andrea Peyton, GBEMS; second place, Thomas Smith, MMS; and third place, Joey Hajzer, GBEMS. Peyton and Smith will represent Pocahontas County at the regional spelling bee.

• Parent involvement coordinator Susan Arbogast gave a report on the events held so far in the schools. She said many of the programs were organized using information from parent surveys and teacher requests. The events include celebrating the achievements of students, honoring parents and grandparents and fun activities to get parents more involved in the schools.

In financial management, the board approved the following:

• For the Pocahontas County Board of Education to accept Federal Qualified Zone Academy Bonds (QZAB) allocations in the amount of $900,000, per the terms of the agreement.

• For Ruth A. Bland to pursue grant funding through USDA RUS-DLT grant program.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Memo of Partnership between Pocahontas County Board of Education and High Rocks.

• Mary Sue Burns and Katherine White to travel to National Science Teachers Association Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, March 31 to April 3. Registration fees and substitute costs will be paid for by Title II funds.

• Shannon M. Alderman and Gina A. Hardesty as volunteer basketball coaches as Hillsboro Elementary School.

• Robert McNabb as volunteer assistant softball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.

• Steven C. Tritapoe as volunteer assistant softball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.

• To appoint Terrence C. Beam as Superintendent of Pocahontas County Schools, effective July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2020, at current salary for fiscal year 2017, then a cost of living increase of three percent annually for fiscal year 2018, fiscal year 2019 and fiscal year 2020.

In professional management, the board approved the following:

• Consent to change Samantha J. Feather from teacher of multi-subjects, third grade at Marlinton Elementary School to teacher of multi-subjects, fourth grade at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2016-2017 school year.

• Creation of position, teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2016-2017 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.

• Resignation of Stacy C. Landis as after-school tutor at Marlinton Elementary School, retroactive to November 17, 2015.

• Employment of Cory McNabb as assistant boys basketball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season, at a supplement of $500. Position pending on sufficient number of players to make a team.

• Abolishment of position, teacher of science/biology at Pocahontas County High School, effective at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

• Creation of position teacher of science at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2016-2017 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.

• Resignation of Thomas Madison, due to retirement, as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

• Creation of position, truancy diversion specialist for Pocahontas County Schools, effective February 10 through May 28, at $20 per hour, five days per week, three hours per day, not to exceed 65 days and $7,800. Position funded through Truancy Diversion Grant.

• Change of assignment of Lisa M. Dennison from child nutrition director/technology integration specialist for Pocahontas County Schools to child nutrition director/teacher at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2016-2017 school year.

The next board meeting is Monday, February 8, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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