BOE supports NSF grant

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night, math coach Joanna Burt-Kinderman asked the board for its support as she pursues a grant offered by the National Science Foundation.

The grant – Collaborative Research: Cultivating STEM CT connections – provides funding for three years to integrate computer science into third through 12th grade classrooms.

“This project includes one researcher from Berea College and one from WVU, together with a director of STEM education at WVU,” Burt-Kinderman said. “This is a project that’s going to take teachers across grades three through twelve in both formal and informal settings, and will provide funding for them to learn about computer science in a way that works inside their classroom.”

Over a three-year period, the grant will provide a total of $160,000 in stipends and supplements for teachers. It will also provide nearly $70,000 for equipment including 3-D printers and laptop kits.

Burt-Kinderman said the grant will help kickstart a program which may become a required class by the state department of education.

“It will provide a starting ground to stay here in Pocahontas County, with NRAO’s partnership, with WVU and Berea, we could really lay a foundation for leading the way for this whole Appalachian region in how we rethink what’s possible in our science and math classrooms,” she said. “If we get this funding, this is going to put us on the very cutting edge.”

Computer science is being implemented at Pocahontas County High School this year as a math elective and has piqued the interest of many students. Burt-Kinderman said PCHS is the only school in West Virginia to offer an all-inclusive computer science class, as opposed to an AP class which would only be offered to students with high math scores.

The grant is a research grant, so although it will not provide funding to add more than the one class, it will provide funding and training for teachers in preparation for adding computer science to the curriculum.

Burt-Kinderman said it is important to work computer science into the curriculum in all grade levels in order to be prepared for a shift which will come with Policy 2510, which, if passed, will require all high schools to include computer science as part of the curriculum.

“Right now it’s just a requirement for it to be offered, according to the policy, but I think we are going in the direction that it will be a graduation requirement,” she said. “The only way to do that is through getting that in K through twelve spaces. When we allow kids to do things that they find exciting, I think that’s another potential change coming out of this.”

Going by feedback she has received from students in the high school class, Burt-Kinderman said students want to take the course earlier and possibly pursue careers they never expected to because they like computer science.

“You’ll see feedback from kids who say, ‘I wish I had this earlier because it would have changed some of the things I’m interested in doing,’” Burt-Kinderman said.

The board thanked Burt-Kinderman for her presentation and her continued efforts in improving the math skills of Pocahontas County students. Superintendent Terrence Beam will provide Burt-Kinderman with a letter of support from the board of education to accompany the grant application.

In updates:

• Gifted teacher Erica Marks gave a report on the recent Middle School Science Bowl. Marks said two teams from Marlinton Middle School, consisting of Virgilio Tejano, Hazel Riley, Faith Johnson, Jaylee Doss, Silas Riley, Sarah Warder, Glenn Wilt and Jersee Wilfong, went on to compete in the Regional Science Bowl at West Virginia University.

Hazel Riley and Silas Riley told the board they had a lot of fun at the science bowl and learned “a bunch of stuff.” They participated in the bowl, a sumo robot challenge and took a tour of the science department at WVU.

• Board treasurer Sherry Radcliff shared a formula for the excess school levy which will give taxpayers an idea of how much their taxes will increase if the levy passes.

Radcliff said she has a table prepared so that if a taxpayer calls for information, she can insert their taxes and tell them exactly how much the taxes will increase for the levy.

In financial management, the board approved the following:

• Payment of vendor listings of claims in the amounts of: $22,119.54, $46,622.65 and $59,905.74.

• February and March Employee payroll, February extra duty pay, grant awards, summary schedule of revenues and expenditures on a cash basis, WVDE explanations for the month of January, January bank reconciliation and budget adjustments.

• Schedule of Proposed Levy Rates for fiscal year ending June 30, 2017: Class I: 19.40; Class II: 38.80; Class III: 77.60; Class IV: 77.60.

• Pocahontas County Board of Education to run an excess levy in the 2016 General Election with the following rates: Class I: 10.25; Class II: $0.50; Class III: 41; Class IV: 41.

• For board of education members to refuse all travel and meal reimbursements, effective March 15 through the remainder of the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• David L. Moore as volunteer assistant track coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Creation of extra duty position Cook for SPLASH Project at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective March 30 through June 1, at $12 per hour, four hours per day, two days per week.

• Creation of extra duty position athletic and extracurricular driver for activity run – SPLASH Project – 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. Position to be funded by RESA grant.

• Employment of Katherine A. LaFleur as wellness coach at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, at $20 per hour, one hour per month, not to exceed four months and $80.

• Creation of position Custodian III at Hillsboro Elementary School, at state basic pay, effective for the 2016-2017 school year. Term of employment is 220 one-half days.

• Employment of Gina A. Hardesty as wellness coach at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, at $20 per hour, one hour per month, not to exceed four months and $80.

• Employment of Diane Delfino as wellness coach at Marlinton Elementary School, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, at $20 per hour, one hour per month, not to exceed four months and $80.

• Employment of Diane Delfino as mentor for Kaitlyn Goins at Marlinton Elementary School, retroactive to the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, at a supplement of $1,000. Supplement to be divided equally with Virginia Shaw.

• Requested transfer of Angela G. Irvine from custodian III/general maintenance /groundsman/truck driver for Pocahontas County Schools to custodian IV at Marlinton Middle School, effective July 1, for the 2016-2017 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 261 days.

• Employment of Jessica A. Hays as wellness coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, at $20 per hour, one hour per month, not to exceed four months and $80.

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

• Creation of position athletic coordinator for fall sports at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the fall term of the 2016-2017 school year, at a supplement of $1,000.

• Creation of position athletic coordinator for spring sports at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the spring term of the 2016-2017 school year, at a supplement of $1,000.

• Employment of Abram J. Rittenhouse, as wellness coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, at $20 per hour, one hour per month, not to exceed four months and $80.

• Abolishment of position custodian III/general maintenance/groundsman/truck driver for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, term of employment 240 days, effective at the end of the day on June 30. Contingent upon approval of requested transfer of Angela G. Irvine.

• Abolishment of position teacher of visually impaired/orientation and mobility specialist for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.

• Employment of Jeanette D. Wagner as teacher of homebound instruction, retroactive to March 1, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, at $20 per hour, as needed.

• Employment of Jean O. Srodes as wellness coordinator for Pocahontas County Schools, effective March 16, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, at $25 per hour, 28 hours per week, not to exceed $700 per week.

• Employment of Amber Arbogast, Thomas K. Dennison, Mia Friel and Amber Wilson as substitute aides for Pocahontas County Schools, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

• Employment of Amber Arbogast and Thomas K. Dennison as substitute cooks for Pocahontas County Schools, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

• Employment of Thomas K. Dennison as substitute custodian for Pocahontas County Schools, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

• Employment of Thomas K. Dennison and Richard Dunbrack as substitute maintenance for Pocahontas County Schools, effective March 16 through the end of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.

Board action on contract employment will be in next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times.

The next board meeting is Monday, March 28 at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, with a public hearing at 6 p.m., followed by the regular meeting.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com

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