BOE receives Innovation Zone grant

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Family Resource Net-work executive director Laura Young delivered exciting news to the board of education at its meeting Monday night – the news that Pocahontas County Schools has been awarded a three-year Innovation Zone grant.

This is the second partnered IZ grant for the BOE and FRN. The first, titled “Warriors on the Path to Success,” wrapped up in June 2015. This second grant will provide support for programs until 2018.

The first three years of funding was focused on dropout prevention and provided students with programs to help them achieve a high school degree or equivalency degree.

“I just want you to know how proud I am of the GED Option program,” Young said. “I really think that had we not done the work in that program, the eighteen students that you see on here could very well have been a dropout in the last three years or in the next.”

Young added she is also proud of the credit recovery program but is concerned it will fall by the wayside if not properly organized. Her biggest concern is block scheduling. Pocahontas County High School is implementing a new schedule this semester to give students a better chance to do credit recovery.

With the new round of funding, the three-year effort, titled “Warrior Wellness,” will focus on the health and safety of students, as well as continue to build on the programs already in place from the first phase of funding.

“What we said in the grant that we’re going to try to do is decrease our truancy rates by .5 percent per year,” Young said. “We also want to increase the number of community stakeholders by twelve [percent] – those are the people that we can call on to come in and do things at our schools.”

The coalition wants to review and improve three policies – wellness, grading and retention – and continue utilizing AmeriCorps volunteers at the schools.

The funding for this round is for middle school students, but parts of the grant will benefit PCHS, as well.

“We’re going to start an after-school meal program for both middle schools,” Young said. “We’re going to continue to do the transitions at PCHS, and we’re also going to give Pocahontas County High School’s physical education department support with some equipment.”

Young said she will keep the board informed as the grant and programs are implemented in the schools.

In updates:

• Interim superintendent Terrence Beam gave a report to the board concerning several items. Beam said he and maintenance director Ron Hall visited PCHS after receiving a complaint from students concerning the restrooms there.

The restrooms at the school are in terrible shape. Beam and Hall contacted Larry Hiner, a block layer, and asked him to give an estimate of the cost to replace stalls with cinderblock partitions. One of the main issues is lack of privacy due to gaps in the stall doors.

Beam also reported it is time to prepare the school calendar for 2016-2017. He suggested the board have community meetings prior to a regular meeting in order to give the community a chance to weigh in on the calendar.

• Director of food services Lisa Dennison gave a report on the Key Drop Delivery program provided by SYSCO Virginia, LLC. She said the program is designed for snow days. The delivery people will have access to keys for each building to allow them to deliver food even when there is no one at the school.

Currently, if there is a snow day, head cooks of each school are asked to go to school when the delivery trucks arrive. Dennison said this would keep the cooks off the road and the board would not have to pay the cooks for the extra work, saving the board money.

The board discussed the program and expressed concern with allowing strangers to have keys to the schools. By a vote of 1-4, the board agreed it would prefer to have an employee of the school system at the school when the food is delivered and voted down the Key Drop Delivery program.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Michael Burns and Stephen D. Mick as volunteer assistant boys basketball coaches at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.

• Jessica Hays as volunteer assistant girls basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.

In professional management, the board approved the following:

• Resignation of Devan E. Simmons as after-school tutor at Hillsboro Elementary School, retroactive to December 9, 2015.

• Resignation of Patsy E. Triplett, due to retirement, as teacher of Marlinton Middle School, effective at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

• Resignation of Amy F. Coleman as teacher of science at Pocahontas County High School, effective at the end of the day January 22.

• Resignation of Kay E. Wiley, due to retirement, as teacher at Pocahontas County High School, effective at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

• Employment of Ryan Alderman as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, effective January 13, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school. Term of employment is 96 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.

• Resignation of Denise M. Elliott, due to retirement, as teacher of visually impaired/orientation and mobility specialist, for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

• Employment of Roseanne Zeni as after-school coordinator/career counselor/tutor for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 13 through June 1, with additional planning meetings before program begins, at $25 per hour, eight hours per week, not to exceed 23 weeks.

• Employment of Peggy Owens and Anne Mitchell as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at state basic pay based on degree and experience.

• Employment of Michael Burns and Linda S. Raugh as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 13, or upon completion of the RESA Online Substitute Training Program, as needed, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic pay based on degree and experience.

The next board meeting is Monday, January 25, at 7 p.m., at the board of education conference room.

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