At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, the board learned there will be a large cut in the amount of funding it receives from federal and state government.
When the board drafts the budget, it relies on funding of Safe and Secure Rural Schools fund – known as the Forestry Money – Medicaid and the State Department of Education.
Board member Joe Walker and treasurer Sherry Radcliff reported that the funding has been cut for the 2016-2017 fiscal year from most of these entities.
Walker said he was in contact with Senator Joe Manchin, who informed him the “Forestry Money” has been cut completely for the entire state.
“I think what the email said was that it ran out in 2015 and last year they scraped up the money from land management and forest service, and paid it anyway,” Walker said. “I think precisely what the email may have said was ‘you need to start looking at your budget now, don’t expect this money.’ I don’t think it’s coming this year.”
Radcliff added that reimbursements from Medicaid have changed and the board will no longer receive as much as it has in the past. The board is reimbursed for services it is required to offer to special needs students.
“The federal government decided they were going to refigure how they did Medicaid billing,” Radcliff said. “They cut out a lot of the revenue sources that we used to be able to collect from. That was another biggie where we used to get $400,000. Last year we got $50-or-$60,000. This year, we’re not even sure we’re going to get $15,000.
“I do have another $34,000 coming from the 2014-2015 billing year where they didn’t pay us,” she added. “But they just keep cutting and cutting.”
Radcliff said she included the Forestry Money and Medicaid reimbursements in the 2016-2017 budget and now she has to find a way to make up for that funding which is no longer available.
“I have $377,700 in this budget that we’ve got to do something with now – this year,” she said. “This year, not next year. Plus, we are racking up bills for maintenance. Transportation is spending a lot of money on vehicles, as well.”
The board will discuss the budget and find ways to make up the difference for the funding it lost.
Student talents shine at board office
Superintendent Terrence Beam reported that the current artwork display at the board office is work from the fifth through seventh grade classes at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School. The students worked on a project featuring the Green Bank Telescope and learned about the importance of the Green Bank Observatory to the community.
Beam read information provided by art teacher Alison Flegel.
“The project was assigned as a way for students to speak out in support of the Green Bank Observatory,” Beam said. “The National Science Foundation is debating whether or not to continue funding the GBO and, in class, we discussed why the GBO is important to us as individuals and as a community.”
Along with the artwork, sixth grade students wrote letters to the NSF about the importance of the GBO. Flegel emailed the letters with a photo of the artwork to the NSF for consideration.
“This project was a wonderful opportunity for them to experience having a voice through art,” Beam read. “The GBO show will also be installed in the GBO science center at a later date.”
• Pocahontas County High School student representative Kayla Gibson reported that five students participated in the Verizon App Challenge. The group: Logan Woodruff, Elijah Robertson, Mathias Solliday, Jacob Jones and Noah Barkley created a video for the contest and won first place in the state.
Gibson said the students each received a tablet, backpacks and other gear from Verizon. The school received $5,000, as well, which will be used by the STEM club. The team will move on to a national competition at a later date.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Contract between the Pocahontas County Board of Education and Shannon Rittenhouse, to provide gifted services and other evaluation services to students enrolled with Pocahontas County Schools for the period January 11 through May 26, at the rate of $275 per day for gifted services, evaluations and consultation, including IEP and SAT meetings, not to exceed $4,950, one day per week for 18 weeks.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Abolishment of position custodian III at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School/ Pocahontas County High School, effective January 11.
• Resignation of Rita Kelly, due to retirement, as teacher of preschool handicapped combination school based/home based, effective at the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
• Employment of Olivia Grimes as temporary/substitute teacher of early childhood at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective January 11 for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year only. Term of employment is 98 days. Position is contingent upon adequate number of students to justify the position. In the event the number of early childhood education students enrolled in Green Bank Elementary-Middle School should decrease below two prior to the Board of Education action on the position, the position will not be filled.
• Employment of David W. Vanorsdale, Jr., as teacher of English/language arts/reading at Marlinton Middle School, effective January 11, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, at state basic pay based on degree and experience, term of employment is 98 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.
• Unpaid suspension of Angela Irvine, service employee at Marlinton Middle School, suspension for days, without pay, to be served on January 10 and 11.
• Requested transfer Michael Galford as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, from his current run to a new run, effective January 11, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, at state basic pay.
• Requested transfer of Gary T. Rose from custodian III, half-time, at Hillsboro Elementary School to school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools at state basic pay, effective January 11 for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year. Term of employment is 98 days. Note: It is anticipated that this run will be abolished at the end of the 2016-2017 school year, subject to approval of the Pocahontas County Board of Education during personnel season.
• Employment of Shelby L. Snead, Laura Solliday and Joseph P. Rose as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 11 for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, as needed, at state basic pay based on degree and experience.
• Employment of Amanda Harvey as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to January 3 for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, as needed, at state basic pay based on degree and experience.
• Employment of Jamie C. Walker as substitute school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 11, as needed, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, at state basic pay. Emergency use only.
The next board meeting is Monday, January 23, at 6 p.m., in the board of education conference room.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com