Monday evening, at the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, grant writer Laura Young gave an update on the application process for several grants, including a new 21st Century Grant for after-school programs.
“Just to remind you, it’s from the Department of Education,” Young said. “It is just strictly for after-school. There’s $220,000 available if you get it in the first year. It’s renewable for the next five years provided you meet your goals and objectives.”
Young applied for and received a 21st Century Grant in the past for after-school, but this time, she is concerned about the likelihood of receiving the grant again. In some cases, the odds are stacked against Pocahontas County before the application is even sent.
“They gave preference to about eight to ten counties,” Young explained. “We were not one of those counties that got preference, so we lost points before we even started. We also didn’t get some points because we’ve been funded by 21st Century in the past. That was kind of another black mark.”
Despite the odds, Young said she is continuing to gather information to include in the grant and is staying positive. The biggest issue the school system will face if it receives the funding is making sure there is participation in the after-school programs.
“We have really low participation in Pocahontas County in after-school,” she said. “Historically, we’ve probably had less than a total of thirty or forty kids that come. This grant is very stringent on that. They want fifty percent of the students to attend seventy-five percent of the time, and it’s going to require us to really do some recruitment and retention – things that we haven’t done before.”
To hopefully fix this issue, Young said she wrote a position into the grant for a half-time after-school coordinator. The coordinator would be present in the schools to encourage students to attend and will also make sure the after-school programs are staying in the same parameters of the classroom work.
“Before, we just kind of opened it up and said ‘this is our after-school program, come participate, but we haven’t really had anybody that’s ringing the phones, talking to parents, engaging the students, trying to sell the program, so that’s one thing that I’m writing into that application,” Young said. “I also wrote a little piece in there about sustainability. I would like to see an after-school committee formed and have some parents and some students on it so we can start thinking about other ways to fund it.”
Young added that the grant money is getting more difficult to receive, so it is important to find other sources and diversify the programs.
The 21st Century Grant application is due May 30, and Young said she is staying positive that it will be funded.
The board thanked Young for the update and all her work in searching out funding for the school system.
• Green Bank parents Hanna Sizemore and Andrew and Jee Seymour returned to further discuss the loss of art in the elementary schools. For the 2019-2020 school year, the homeroom classes will be teaching art instead of having the elementary students participate in a class with an art teacher.
Sizemore spoke on behalf of the parents, asking what they could do to assist the board in finding funding to increase art education. She added that a petition was circulated online and received a total of 600 signatures from local and out-of-county/out-of-state supporters.
The board said that it is important for parents to continue to be vocal with Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito about the importance of the Secure Rural Schools funding – locally known as the forestry money – which continues to dwindle and may possibly stop altogether.
The board added that it is possible for parents and the community to raise funds earmarked for art education. Superintendent Terrence Beam said he spoke to board attorney Jason Long, who verified that it is legal to do so.
Sizemore said she and the parents will continue their efforts and thanked the board for keeping the conversation open about art education.
• Beam reported that the first Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan [CEFP] meeting will be Wednesday, May 29, at 6 p.m. at the Pocahontas County High School auditorium. It will be the first meeting with all committee members who volunteered to work on the 10-year facilities plan.
Beam gave special recognition to maintenance member Darin McKenney, who worked diligently to ensure the air conditioning in the PCHS gym was working properly to create a cool atmosphere Sunday for graduation.
He also recognized the track team which participated in the state track meeting last week in Charleston. He said the team did well in their competitions, but more importantly, they were well-behaved and showed good sportsmanship to the other teams.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• 2019-2020 Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting schedule.
• Agreement between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation regarding the use and funding of the Pocahontas County Community Wellness Center, effective July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.
• Construction of a chimney swift tower on board of education property near Marlinton Elementary School.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Requested transfer of Ricky I. Sharp, II, from principal at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, to teacher of science at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Employment from preferred recall list of Peggy M. Owens at itinerant teacher of art/gifted at Marlinton Middle School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Employment of Christine J. Campbell as teacher of alternative education/teacher of English/language arts at Marlinton Middle School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2019-2020 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Appointment of Sherry L. Radcliff as treasurer/director of finance for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2019-2020 fiscal year.
• Employment of Kaitlyn Wratchford as teacher of extended school year at Marlinton Elementary school, effective June 10 through August 8, at $20 per hour, 25 hours per week.
• Employment of Lauren Brooke Dickenson as teacher of extended school year at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective June 10 through August 8, at $20 per hour, 25 hours per week.
• Employment of Dorthie Shamblin as compensatory time teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective June 10 through August 8, as needed, at $20 per hour.
• Employment of Evan Rose as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2019-2020 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Requested transfer of Silas Sattler as school bus operator to a different bus run, effective for the 2019-2020 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Employment of Thomas J. Madison and Jerald L. Ramos as substitute bus operators for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2019-2020 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.
• Employment of Jerald L. Ramos as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2019-2020 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.
• Employment of the following academic interventionists for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 2, 2019 through May 25, 2020, at $20 per hour, three hours per day, as needed, not to exceed $7,000 per position: Lucy Rittenhouse and Laura P. Solliday – Green Bank Elementary-Middle School; Linda H. VanReenen – Hillsboro Elementary School; and Teresa Barb and M. Susan Arbogast – Marlinton Elementary School.
• Rescind resignation of Deborah A. Irvine as teacher of physical education at Marlinton Elementary School.
The next board meeting will be Monday, June 3, at 6 p.m., at the board of education conference room.