Every 10 years, the West Virginia Department of Education requires all boards of education to create a Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan [CEFP] which lays out plans for the school system for the following 10 years.
The plan includes suggestions for upgrades to existing school facilities, addition of new facilities, curriculum changes and predictions about the size of student population for the next decade.
In July 2019, the Pocahontas County Board of Education assembled a committee consisting of community members, school employees, school administrators and board members to collect the data needed for the CEFP.
The committee was joined by Thrasher Group, Inc., the architectural firm hired by the board to help complete the CEFP task. With the help of Thrasher’s Matt Breakey and Bill Ratcliffe, the committee completed the plan.
On Tuesday, October 6, the plan was presented to the board at a special meeting which was also used as a public hearing to allow community members to be part of the discussion.
“The first phase is the information gathering phase,” Breakey explained. “Our big part of that is really looking at your physical facilities and identifying needs in your current facilities. So, where it stands now is the CEFP has been put up for public comment for a period of time.
“Now is the time for the public to weigh in and comment on the plan, whether to reinforce it or offer some other comments.”
The CEFP committee chairperson Suzanne Stewart, of Green Bank, acted as moderator during CEFP meetings and kept members informed on meeting updates and changes.
The committee faced challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic which made it harder for a large group to meet together, but the members adapted and attended meetings through Zoom as much as possible.
“We started this in July 2019, which feels like it was three years ago,” Stewart told the board. “I think we had about fifty people on the committee and, of course, it became a most difficult time to try to do this because of COVID, but we were able to have meetings.”
While it was difficult for the entire committee to meet, the majority of members worked together to discuss possible changes for the school facilities in the next decade.
“We had a lot of passionate people on this committee,” Stewart said. “You could tell they weren’t doing this for anything other than the betterment of the education in this county. We did have some heated arguments, and I know that one of the biggest concerns – and it always will be a concern in this county – is consolidation.
“There are no plans in this CEFP to close facilities,” she continued. “It was discussed. It was suggested, but we decided – and Thrasher even said – instead of looking at closing and consolidating – just look at what you would do to upgrade all the buildings you have and then if consolidation does come up, you can always change it. It is a living document, and it can be changed at any time, multiple times a year, even.”
Breakey said it was good to have strong and opinionated minds on a committee of this nature because it is important to look at all possibilities for the schools and not just all agree on one option.
“It’s good when you see that in a committee – that difference of opinion – because you get a sense that all sides are being heard,” he said. “It’s not just one direction.”
Stewart recognized all the members of the committee and commended them for volunteering their time to create the CEFP.
“We had a lot of hard working community members, teachers and administrators coming together to work on this in their free time,” she said.
The CEFP was further discussed and individuals who attended the meeting through Zoom were given time to ask questions and provide opinions on the plan.
During the meeting, the internet went down for roughly 20 minutes, but once it came back up, the meeting and discussion continued.
For those who were unable to attend the meeting and wish to read the CEFP and make comments, there is a copy on the board of education website at http://pocahontas-k12.wvnet.edu/boe/3647-2/
All comments will be considered and included in the CEFP.
The board of education will be presented the plan, complete with public comments, for approval at the Tuesday, October 27 board meeting.
At the September 22 board of education meeting, the board took the following actions:
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Pocahontas County Schools and the M3T Noyce Fellowships Project related to Jennifer Nail-Cook as the Cohort, in supporting improvement in the mathematics teaching and learning as a five-year program to be revisited/approved each subsequent year, retroactive to August 2020 through July 2021.
• Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Community Care of West Virginia, Inc., to provide healthcare services in the School Based Health Care Center facilities at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Pocahontas County High School for the 2020-2021 school year.
• To authorize the superintendent to obtain surveys and appraisals of the Pocahontas County Board of Education’s Green Bank property – otherwise known as the Slaven Property – in whole and/or part thereof (98.78 +/- total acreage), in preparation for possible future determination that whole or part of the property is not necessary for school purposes.
• Superintendent’s goals for the 2020-201 school year.
• James “Bo” Casteel as volunteer 7th and 8th grade football coach; and Robert A. Cummings as volunteer Pocahontas County High School football coach for the 2020-2021 season, pending certification.
In personnel, the board approved the following:
• Employment of Anne M. Smith as teacher of science at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience plus equity, effective September 21, for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Term of employment is 175 days in addition to days already worked. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.
• Employment Darla J. Huddle as academic interventionist at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School at $22 per hour, three hours per day, as needed, not to exceed 375 hours or $8,250, effective September 8, 2020 through May 14, 2021.
• Mutual consent to change Sherri L. Howe from cook III at Marlinton Elementary School and Marlinton Middle School to cook III at Marlinton Middle School for four days and Hillsboro Elementary School for one day, effective for the 2020-2021 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 200 days. Assignment will be reviewed after the first nine weeks.
• Employment of Darlene D. Arbogast to mentor Tessa M. Himelrick, effective for the 2020-2021 school year, at $22 per hour, not to exceed 50 hours or $1,100.
• Employment of Derek R. Trull as site coordinator of the Community in Schools Program at Marlinton Middle School, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience, effective September 1, for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year. Term of employment is 189 days in addition to days already worked. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter, provided grant funding. Salary to be paid for by the CIS grant.
• Employment of the following as Virtual School Facilitators, extra-curricular, at $22 per hour, as needed, effective for the 2020-2021 school year, as needed: Darlene Arbogast, PCHS special education; Kathy Mason, PCHS ninth through 12th grades; Teresa Rhea, MMS sixth through eighth grades; Alison Safrit, GBEMS, six through eighth grades; and Jeanette Wagner, MMS special education.
• Employment of the following as Virtual School Instructors, extra-curricular, at $22 per hour, as needed, effective for the 2020-2021 school year, as needed: Darla Huddle, MES; Kimberly Shinaberry, HES/GBEMS kindergarten through fifth grade; and Jeanette Wagner, HES special education.
• Employment of Darla Huddle and L. Brooke Nottingham as teachers of Homebound Instruction for Pocahontas County Schools, at $22 per hour, as needed, effective for the 2020-2021 school year, as needed.
• Employment of Jessica Beard, Laurie Corbin, Kristi Dinkins, Elizabeth Hefner and Tomma Johnson as substitute special education/ classroom aides/bus aides for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 24, as needed, for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, at state basic pay, pending background checks.
• Employment of Jessica Beard, Laurie Corbin, Kristi Dinkins, Tomma Johnson and Pippi Miller as substitute cooks for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 24, as needed, for the remainder of 2020-2021 school year, at state basic pay, pending background checks.
• Employment of Pippi Miller as substitute custodian for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 24, as needed, for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, at state basic pay, pending background check.
• Employment of George Jaharias and Larry Price as substitute maintenance for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 24, as needed, for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, at state basic pay, pending background checks.
• Permission for the superintendent to post and fill positions prior to board approval until October 13, 2020.