BOE optimistic about future of SRS funding

Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting December 17 at Hillsboro Elementary School, superintendent Terrence Beam shared some good news concerning the possibility of Secure Rural Schools [SRS] funding through Congress.

“It does look very favorable,” he said. “We’re supposed to find out something for sure on Friday, but it looks like they are going to be providing some funds for both this year and the next school year. I also read in one of the emails that a permanent solution is in the works, so things are looking up a little bit for that.”

Beam recognized treasurer Sherry Radcliff for her diligence in making sure the SRS funding did not get ignored and said she went above and beyond to ensure Pocahontas County Schools was not overlooked.

“We would not be in the situation we are with the SRS money if it wasn’t for Sherry,” he said. “Sherry has worn the phone out; she’s worn me out, she’s worn out Senator Manchin. She has done a fabulous job with it.”

Beam added that if the SRS funding is renewed for this year, he plans to create two positions for LPNs to help with school nurse Jenny Friel’s workload.

“My intentions were to establish these positions for next school year, but due to the fact that the SRS money will allow us the opportunity to do this earlier, I see no reason to hesitate,” he said. “It’s a serious enough situation with the medical needs of our students to move forward since it will not put us in a financial bind.”

Friel addressed the board at the last meeting with her concerns about being the lone school nurse for five schools. She said that it is very difficult for her to serve the students of all the schools when she is only at each school one day a week.
In reports:

• During the Local School Improvement Council [LSIC] portion of the meeting, HES principal Rebecca Spencer and the staff shared information on programs implemented at the school.

One such program is the student-led conference in which the students themselves present information to their parents concerning the progress they’ve made in class. This style of conference has replaced the typical parent-teacher meetings and puts the students in charge of their education.

“The first step was to actually talk to the students about what they are to learn in each grade, so we looked at the state standards,” Nicole Taylor said. “Basically, each child has a reading goal and a math goal. We started running records this year, so every so often, we sit down with the child and track the reading progress. We did the same with math.”

The students write out their goals for the school year and then track how they will achieve those goals.

“We are really pleased with student-led conferences,” Taylor said. “Even though it’s a lot of work, we all agree it is definitely worth it. The parents really appreciate coming in and listening to their students talk about their progress rather than the teacher.”

The staff also gave updates on the Character Education program and changes made to the appearance of their classrooms to make them a more welcome environment for learning.

• Student representative Emmett Doolittle gave a short report, saying Pocahontas County High School is in mid-term mode – a high stress time for students and teachers alike. The meeting was Doolittle’s last, and he thanked the board for allowing him the opportunity to serve as representative for the school.

Senior Sierra Rodriguez will take Doolittle’s place for the second semester of the school year.

The board and Beam thanked Doolittle for his insight and reports from the first semester and wished him luck in the future.

• PCHS principal Joe Riley gave a report on an incident which occurred last week. Riley explained to the board that there was a rumor of a threat against PCHS from a student. Riley and the staff acted accordingly by contacting the police and locking down the school.

Once it was determined that there was no validity to the rumor, the school went back to normal operation.

• The board tabled the agenda item to approve the Greenbrier Youth Reporting Center to use PCHS as a facility. Board president Joe Walker said the item was not worded specifically enough and asked that more information be included.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of Julie Shifflet as athletic director for Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at a supplement of $750, effective for the 2019-2020 season. Position pending on sufficient number of players to make a team.

• Resignation of Stephanie L. Barkley as secretary III/accountant III at the Central Office, retroactive to the end of the day on December 6.

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