At the board of education meeting Monday night, board member Hannah Sizemore and county commission president David Fleming discussed the formation of a committee to focus on improving Internet service in the county.
The county commission recently wrote a letter to the Public Service Commission requesting help on regulating Internet service, and Sizemore said she thought it would be fitting for the board to join in the cause due to Internet issues in the schools.
“We all have had an interest in that from the school board’s perspective for a long time,” she said. “We wanted to actively work with the county commission to assist the effort to get everyone better service. Inside the school system, we have more than just the Internet problem. We have connectivity to the outside world but we also have intranet issues, especially at the high school where there are old computers and the software is really out of date.”
This school year alone, Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Pocahontas County High School have both gone several days at a time without phone service. The schools were unable to call out and could not receive calls.
In regards to Internet service, several teachers have reported that it takes most of the class time logging students onto Internet programs for lessons.
Fleming said he agrees that the two government entities should work together for the betterment of service for the entire county.
“We’re always trying to improve the Internet in the county,” he said. “We have some customers in Pocahontas County that are frustrated with their Internet service for the money they pay.”
While it is important to get better service, Fleming wanted to make it clear that the formation of the committee is not an attack on Internet provider Frontier Communications.
“It’s a difficult balance to strike because you also need to support the workforce we have here,” he said. “We have a lot of Frontier employees and we’re really pleased with the job they do. We have to support our employees and at the same time, we have to look out for our citizens and try to help our schools, our businesses get the best Internet they can.”
Sizemore and Fleming will form the committee, along with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, to discuss the issue and troubleshoot solutions.
• The board approved the resignation of board member Kenneth Vance, retroactive to February 11. The board collective voiced its regrets of losing Vance who was a member of the board for 16 years.
Board president Emery Grimes said Vance told him he spent 42 years in the education system in Pocahontas County, beginning as a teacher, then as principal at PCHS, and on to the board.
“We’re going to miss his expertise and professionalism,” Grimes said. “He had a lot of insight into the school system. He will be very much missed by all of us board members, not only as a board member, but as a friend of ours, too.”
Grimes asked county clerk Missy Bennett to explain the next step in filling Vance’s vacant seat.
The board has 45 days from the time of the resignation to appoint a new member from the northern district. Because the filing period for the May election is already closed, a special filing period will take place for the November election.
“We will hold a special filing period August 4 through August 19,” Bennett said. “Then whoever is interested in running for the board of education, they can file at that time. The filing fee will be twenty-five dollars.”
The May election will seat one northern, one central and one southern representative. For the November election, a person from either the northern district or southern district may file to fill Vance’s unexpired term.
• Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel gave a report on the honor roll for the last semester. He said of the 808 students in grades three through 12, 290 earned a 3.0 or better, and of those 290 students, 130 students earned a 3.75 or better. Bechtel said he is very pleased with the progress of the students.
Bechtel also recognized Janice Miller, central office executive secretary and accountant who will finish her 41 years of service to the school system on Friday.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
• Grant Awards, Budget Transfer, Revenue and Expenditures Summary and Bank Reconciliation for January.
• Payment of vendor listings of claims in the amounts of $16,769.29; $47,291.45; and $24,616.05.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Form a technology committee to work with Pocahontas County Commission and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory to discuss and problem solve Internet issues.
• Abolishment of Procedure CGBAI – Reading Coordinator.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Reduction in force, non-rehire of Kimberly N. Shinaberry as half-time Title I Reading Specialist at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, due to lack of funding.
• Reduction in force, non-rehire of Kimberly N. Shinaberry as half-time teacher of mathematics at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, due to lack of funding.
• Reduction in force, non-rehire of Kelli M. Tallman as Title I Reading Specialist at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective at the end of the 2013-2014 school year, due to lack of funding.
• Unpaid Medical leave of absence of Sarah C. Brown as teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective April 1 until May 20.
• Change in date of unpaid leave of absence of Cathy A. Mitchell as teacher of physical education at Marlinton Middle School, retroactive to February 4 until May 4.
• Employment of Kay E. Wiley as girls track coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2013-2014 season, at a supplement of $1,500.
• Employment of Delmos F. Barb as boys track coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2013-2014 season, at a supplement of $1,500.
• Employment of Davina R. Agee as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective February 26 for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.
• Requested transfer of Cora L. Carpenter, from secretary II/accountant II at Hillsboro Elementary School to executive secretary/accountant III for Pocahontas County Schools, assignment central office, effective February 26 for the remainder of the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
• Employment of Tanya M. LaBounty as itinerant supervisory special education classroom aide/bus aide for Pocahontas County High School, at state basic salary, effective February 26 for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year.
• Resignation of Susan A. Borror, due to retirement, as half-time school social worker and half-time court liaison/attendance officer for Pocahontas County Schools at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
• Extension of contract of Cheryl Jonese as LINKS Coordinator for Pocahontas County Schools, from an ending date of May 30 to an ending date of August 1, at $20 per hour, not to exceed 900 hours and $18,000.
• Extension of contract of Jean O. Srodes as at-risk interventionist at Pocahontas County High School, from an ending date of the last day of school to an ending date of August 1, at $20 per hour, not to exceed $16,600.
• Appointment of Sherry L. Radcliff as treasurer for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
• Resignation of Alice D. Irvine as substitute secretary/accountant for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to February 14.
The next board meeting is Monday, March 10, at 7 p.m. in the board of education conference room.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com