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BOE tries to tighten its financial belt

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the board of education meeting Monday night, treasurer Sherry Radcliff shared several proposals which she believes will save the board money.

The proposals were not on the agenda, but Radcliff wanted to review them with the board before they were presented as votable items.

The first proposal concerned breakfast costs.

“I would like to propose a twenty-five cent increase and that’s because, last year, we spent $236,000 of our own funds, which we usually do every year,” Radcliff said. “Our cost for breakfast per students is $2.86. Adults pay $2.50. Even if we move it to $2.75, we’re still not going to break even for an adult meal.”

The students receiving reduced breakfast would not have an increase, Radcliff added.

Board members asked if adult meals could be increased and leave the students’ at the same rate.

“I’m not going to vote to increase any kid’s meals,” board president Emery Grimes said. “I can’t. That might be the only [meals] they get. I paid for lunch, and I wrote that check every month for three kids at one time, and that’s not easy on parents, either.”

The next proposal concerned payment to parents for transporting children. Up to this time, the board paid parents, per student, to transport their child from home to the nearest bus stop. The payments are made to families who live too far down private roads or one-lane roads where a bus cannot travel.

“We’re paying per child for parents to bring their kids to the bus stop or out to the roads,” Radcliff said. “If we pay per family, it would save us about $2,358.”

The board did not see a problem in changing the rate to per family instead of per child.

The last proposal focused on the field house at Pocahontas County High School. Between January and March, the field house is used by the football team for weightlifting.

“If we close that down for the three months, it would save us about $2,400,” Radcliff said. “My proposal is to take the equipment up to the high school…”

“No,” Grimes interjected. “It’s been tried and it doesn’t work. You cannot shut them down until the first of March. If you do, you’re going to be behind all the schools we play. If we want to be competitive, we can’t do that. One of the reasons you’re going to playoffs is those kids are lifting weights.”

Radcliff reiterated that the football team could use the equipment in the high school and it would lower bills by not having to pay heating and electricity costs in the field house.

She added that the athletic department at the high school costs the board annually roughly $62,000 each year for buses, coaches salaries and more.

“We’ve cut athletics all I’m going to cut,” Grimes said. “It’s your job to balance the budget, it’s our job to vote on whether we’re going to approve it or not. You can put it on the agenda if you want to, but I don’t think it’s going to pass because we’ve cut athletics enough.”

The three proposals will be on the December 14 agenda for the board’s consideration and or vote.

Radcliff also shared that she recently spoke to a representative at MonPower concerning a bill for the old cafeteria at Hillsboro Elementary School. The bill for the building was estimated for 27 months and the board received a new bill saying it owed $18,490.42 in back charges.

Grimes said it is a Public Service Commission law that meters can only be estimated one month at a time. The meter at Hillsboro was not read for 27 months. He asked board attorney Bob Martin to investigate the issue and discuss it with MonPower.

High Rocks and Upward Bound report on programs for students

• Members of the Youth Advisory Board at High Rocks Academy for Girls gave a presentation on the programs offered to young ladies in Pocahontas County.

Lexie Ruckman, Summer Propst and Maddie Persinger explained the summer camps – New Beginnings and Camp Steel – being Junior Counselors and the purpose of the Youth Advisory Board.

They explained that girls in seventh through 12th grade from Pocahontas, Nicholas and Greenbrier counties attend the camps, after-school tutoring and are given assistance in visiting colleges, free of charge.

• Carol Suder-Howe, of Davis & Elkins College, gave a presentation on the Upward Bound program provided by the college. Pocahontas County has been served by Upward Bound since 1999.

Suder-Howe said Upward Bound has one program which focuses on students from Pocahontas and Pendleton counties. At this time, it serves 25 students from each high school in those counties. Upward Bound also serves Randolph, Barbour and Tucker counties.

The program focuses on getting high school students ready for post-secondary education. It targets students who are first generation college students, meaning their parents do not have baccalaureate degrees, and they meet the socioeconomic guidelines.

Suder-Howe said the program has been very successful over the years, and more than 85 percent of the students who participate enter college and complete college within six years.

The board thanked the presenters for giving updates on the programs for students in Pocahontas County.

In updates:

• Interim superintendent Terrence Beam updated the board on several items. He reported that the OEPA [Office of Education Performance Audits] results were back and Marlinton Middle School and Hillsboro Elementary School did well. The schools do not need to change their strategic plans in any way.

Marlinton Elementary School, Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Pocahontas County High School do have to make changes, but, Beam said, the issues were minor in all instances.

Beam added that he recently spoke to a representative with the Greenbrier Airport Authority concerning an essay contest.

“They’re going to have an essay contest for our high school students,” Beam said. “It’s going to be about Washington, D.C., and why they would like the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C.”

The essay contest will be for high school students in Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe counties. The winners of the contest will receive a trip to Washington, D.C., provided by the GAA.

“They thought this was something that a lot of kids would not have the opportunity to do,” Beam said. “They will fly them up to Washington, D.C. and back. Before they even apply or do the essay contest, their parents are going to need to know they are going to be flying. It sounds like a really good opportunity for our students.”

• Student representative Emily Boothe reported on events taking place at PCHS. She said the boys and girls basketball season has started and the teams have played several scrimmages in preparation for the season.

Boothe also reported that the school’s LSIC [Local School Improvement Council] met November 17 to discuss school improvements.

The PCHS annual Elf Auction will be December 11. Funds raised will be used to purchase gift cards for students. The band Christmas concert will be December 13, with a snow date of December 14.

The school choir will go caroling December 18. It plans to sing carols at board members’ houses, as well as staff members’ houses. The choir even wrote its own Christmas song which it will debut during caroling.

The Rotary Interact club, sponsored by Joy Boothe held a pet supply drive and collected 290 items.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• RESA 4 Alternative Certification Program Memorandum of Agreement between Regional Education Service Agency 4 in Summersville and Pocahontas County Schools.

• Heather D. Simmons, Robert Simmons, David Smith, Jody Spencer and Rebecca Spencer as volunteer archery coaches for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2015-2016 school year.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Resignation of Ella M. Taylor as athletic director at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, retroactive to the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year.

• Employment of Anne M. Smith as Project ELA tutor/enrichment instructor – Project SPLASH – at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, retroactive to October 26, up to seven hours per week, for up to 25 weeks, plus additional planning/meetings before program begins, at $20 per hour. Hours contingent upon adequate student enrollment.

• Employment of E. Jamey Weber as after-school tutor at Marlinton Elementary School, retroactive to November 11 through June 1, 2016, at $20 per hour, two hours per day, two days per week – additional planning meetings before program begins – not to exceed 23 weeks.

• Employment of Shonda Carr and Whitney Fedak as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective December 2, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, as state basic pay.

• Employment of Devan E. Simmons, as after-school coordinator/career counselor /tutor for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to November 11 through June 1, 2016, – additional planning meetings before program begins – at $25 per hour, eight hours per week, not to exceed 23 weeks.

• Creation of incentive of $500 for all service personnel who give notice of intent to retire. Notice must be received by the superintendent by January 15, 2016, and employee’s retirement must be effective at the end of the school year.

The next Local School Improvement Council/Faculty Senate/board of education meeting is Monday, December 7, at 1 p.m., at Pocahontas County High School.

The next board meeting is Monday, December 14, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.

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