At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, two Marlinton Middle School parents addressed the board asking why the basketball teams at the school are not using buses to travel to away games.
Brad Dunz said he did not understand why MMS was not using buses for travel and said the lack of school provided transportation was hurting the boys basketball team.
“Kids get to the game five minutes before the game starts because they’ve got to wait for their parents to get off work to get there,” Dunz said. “My opinion, they ought to be able to take money from somewhere in the school for transportation for buses.”
Dunz said it is hard to earn money for the athletic fund if there aren’t enough players on the team to attract people to come to the games and spend money for tickets and concessions.
He added that while the parents are happy to drive their children to games, the team does lose something by not traveling together to away games.
“The kids need a bus,” he said. “They lose camaraderie. They lose a sense of being a team. You get stuff to and from the games you can’t get if you don’t have the bus.”
Dunz said parents are confused because they are aware that Green Bank Elementary-Middle School uses buses and they don’t understand why MMS doesn’t.
Fellow parent Burl Burns agreed with Dunz and added that the inquiry is too late for this year’s season, but the parents are hoping for a resolution by next season.
MMS principal Dustin Lambert, who is in charge of the athletic fund, explained that he tries to be as fiscally responsible as possible with the money and, at times, the fund is stretched thin.
“I do want to say that our athletic account is not just used for basketball; it’s used for cheerleading, as well,” he said. “I can’t simply deplete an athletic account from year to year because you have to encumber expenses such as officials and the money you need to start up your concession stand.”
Along with funding the teams and games, the athletic fund is used to make upgrades to the gymnasium, which Lambert said is due for some alterations.
“Right now, our gym needs some upgrades,” he said. “We have to have a new sound system in the gym. We also have to have breakaway rims on our basketball rims. At any minute now one of my students can get ahold of that rim and that backboard will come crashing down. It’s solid glass. I have to replace them.”
As for transportation, Lambert said the cost to have buses for every girls and boys away basketball games would be $2,950. He added that with the shortage of substitute bus drivers, even with money for a bus, there is no guarantee there would be a driver for the games.
“[Transportation director Ruth Bland] could call at 2:30 p.m. on the afternoon of the game and we wouldn’t have transportation by a bus to begin with because there’s no guarantee that we’ll have a bus driver,” Lambert said. “We have private vehicle releases that have been granted to us by the board of education. We are allowed to use those and all of my parents for girls and boys gladly signed those forms without any discussion with me or any disdain for using those forms.”
Bland explained that when a bus is used for an extra curricular activity, such as away games, the schools pay a flat fee of $50 and $1 per mile traveled.
Dunz said he appreciates all that Lambert does for the school and said he is a great principal, however, he does not agree with using the athletic fund to make upgrades to the gymnasium, which is used by the entire school and not just the athletes.
Because the issue was not an agenda item, the board was not able to address Dunz’s concerns but told him he is welcome to be placed on the agenda of a later meeting to discuss the issue further. Dunz made the request and Superintendent Terrence Beam said he will have Dunz on the next meeting’s agenda.
• Beam reported that he received information from Glenville State College concerning its education department. Glenville is developing a scholarship which will be nearly a full-ride for students who want to be teachers in West Virginia. The only students eligible for the scholarship are those who attend a high school that has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GSC. Beam said he is going to work with Glenville to sign an MOU to ensure students at Pocahontas County High School are eligible.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• 30 day comment period on Policy BCBM (First reading).
• Kenneth Beezley and Ruthana Beezley as community volunteers for the 2018-2019 school year.
• Pocahontas County High School ProStart students to travel to The Greenbrier Resort, January 26 and returning January 28, to participate in restaurant management and culinary arts seminars. With the exception of travel and one night’s lodging expense, funding will be provided by WVHEAT and the ProStart Class Fund.
• Pocahontas County High School ProStart students to travel to the Charleston Marriott Town Center on February 14 and returning February 15, to participate in the Junior Cast Iron Cook Off competition. Funding will be provided by WVHEAT and ProStart.
• Pocahontas County High School ProStart students to travel to the Morgantown Marriott at Waterfront Place on March 4 and returning March 6, to participate in the State Hospitality Cup competition. Funding will be provided by WVHEAT and ProStart.
• Pocahontas County High School ProStart students to travel to Indiana University, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Pierpont Community College, on March 28 and returning March 29, to visit culinary colleges to explore their secondary options upon graduation.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Retirement of Margaret Baker as teacher of art at Marlinton Elementary and Marlinton Middle schools, effective at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
• Retirement of Lisa Dennison as child nutrition director and alternative education teacher, effective August 31.
• Employment of Jessie L. Sharp as head boys basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2018-2019 season, at a supplement of $750, retroactive to November 7, 2018.
• Employment of Shannon Arbogast as head girls basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2018-2019 season, at a supplement of $750, retroactive to November 7, 2018.
• Retirement of Cheryl L. Nelson as teacher of fourth grade at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
• Employment of Holly Beverage as custodian IV/sanitation plant operator, effective January 30. Term of employment 108 days. Term of employment shall be 261 days thereafter.
• Employment of Jerald Ramos as itinerant teacher of special education – multi-categorical autism – at Pocahontas County High School, effective January 30, for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year. Term of employment 85 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.
The next board meeting will be held Monday, February 11, beginning with a calendar hearing at 5:30 p.m. at the board of education conference room.