Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Each year, the School Building Authority reviews dozens of applications for funding from county boards of education, dolling out grants as funds allow. With the use of Qualified Zone Academic Bonds (QZAB), boards of education have a better chance of receiving funds.

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night, Treasurer Sherry Radcliff explained QZAB.

“The QZAB is a way to do construction in your schools, but we end up paying money back,” she said. “What you get is a loan that a bank would do, interest free. SBA has the pot of money and they allocate it out. You can use the QZAB as your match for a big loan for construction projects.”

The SBA typically chooses to fund new building projects over renovation projects because it is seen as a better investment. Radcliff said members of the SBA and architects will visit the schools in Pocahontas County to see if it would be best to apply for renovations or a new building grant.

“They’re willing to look at construction if we, maybe, would do a K through 12 in areas of our county,” Radcliff said. “If they’re going to do it and we’re willing to do a K through 12 – one maybe at Marlinton Middle, leaving Hillsboro where it is and doing Green Bank where the school is now #– these are just ideas. SBA will look at them with us and tell us.”

Usually, board members and superintendents take the grant application to the SBA and “plead their case” during a meeting. Radcliff said the SBA is trying to take a more hands-on approach by visiting counties to see the schools before choosing projects.

“They’re now trying to come to us before we go to them and ask for funds,” she said. “They’re looking at ways to consolidate. If we consolidate, then we might be able to use the high school as a vocational facility, as well as a technology center. With the schools, they may say do a completely new building or they may add to what we have.”

The board discussed the possibility of de-consolidating Pocahontas County High School to create two K through 12 schools, one at Marlinton and one at Green Bank. Although it was a positive to consider using the high school facility as a vocational and technology center, the board members felt it would be a negative to separate the high school students.

Radcliff said again that the K through 12 configuration was only a suggestion and maybe instead the SBA would fund K through 8 schools, similar to Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.

Members of the SBA and architects will visit the schools this week to do evaluations.

In updates:

• The board voted 3-2 to renew Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel’s contract for one year. Board members Steve Tritapoe and Cheryl Beverage voted in opposition.

• Radcliff told the board that it was time to start working on information concerning an excess levy for 2016. She will work with the levy committee to draw up plans for the new levy proposal.

• Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel recognized the students who participated in the Pocahontas County Science Fair last week. He added that the artwork on display at the board office this month is by students at Marlinton Elementary School in Margaret Baker’s art class.

Bechtel reported that he received letters from Congressman Evan Jenkins and Senator Robert Karnes concerning the forestry money. He said both thanked him for his correspondence and they said they would look into the funding issue.

He also received a letter from State Auditor Glen Gainer, III, stating Pocahontas County Schools received $70,979.86 as funds allocated through the Minerals Management Service Royalty Management Program.

• Board member Joe Walker said he understood the push for bringing the health occupations program to PCHS, and he asked if it would be possible to ask the students what kind of programs they would like to have offered in the vocational department. He asked Dr. Bechtel to do a survey with students in the eighth grade to see where their interests lie.

In financial management, the board approved the following:

• Payment of vendor listings of claims in the amounts of $35,196.42; $24,319.49; and $45,600.19.

• Grant Awards and Extra Duty Pay for the month of February.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Creation of position teacher of multi-subjects at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.

• Requested transfer of David A. Arter from General Maintenance/Electrician II/ Plumber II for Pocahontas County Schools to Custodian IV/Sanitation Plant Operator at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School at state basic pay, effective July 1, for the 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 261 days.

• Resignation of Virginia Shaw, due to retirement, as teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective July 31.

• Requested transfer of Sarah J. Hedrick from Custodian II at Pocahontas County High School to Cook II at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic pay, effective for the 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 220 days.

• Employment of David A. Arter as extracurricular general maintenance for Pocahontas County Schools, required to work at all Pocahontas County Schools locations at the discretion and direction of the Director of Maintenance, as needed only. In no event to exceed three hours per day, at $12 per hour.

• Supplement schedule of athletic and extracurricular assignment supplements, effective July 1, for the 2015-2016 season, as listed below.

Pocahontas County High School: athletic director, $4,000; head football coach, $2,000; three assistant football coaches, $500 each; seventh and eighth grade football coach, $750; head boys basketball coach, $1,650; head girls basketball coach, $1,650; assistant boys basketball coach, $500; assistant girls basketball coach; $500; head boys track coach, $750; head girls track coach, $750; cheerleading coach, football and basketball, $1,000; volleyball coach, $750; head boys soccer coach, $1,500; head girls soccer coach, $1,500; softball coach, $750; baseball coach, $750; golf coach, $600; band director, $1,800; assistant band director, $750; and athletic trainer – EMT, $2,500.

Two athletic and extracurricular drivers for activity run, northern, at a supplement based on daily rate of pay for actual days worked prior to the school calendar, plus $50 per day, based on 180 days of operation for days that activity runs are required.

Green Bank Elementary-Middle School: athletic director, $750; head boys basketball coach, $750 and head girls basketball coach, $750.

Marlinton Middle School: athletic director, $750; head boys basketball coach, $750 and head girls basketball coach, $750.
The next board meeting will be Monday, March 23, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at sastewart@pocahontastimes.com