At the November 2 Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Terrence Beam delivered the good news that the board had been awarded a USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant in the amount of $434,779.
“The USDA grant – something we’ve been fighting for two years now – has been approved,” Beam said. “I can’t thank Ruth [Bland] and Sherry [Radcliff] enough. They have been fighting every step of the way.”
Bland, director of technology, first submitted the grant application two years ago when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and students attended classes virtually. The grant was to provide individual devices to each student and teacher, as well as an outdoor networking system at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School since the school cannot have wireless Internet.
While the school system was waiting to receive the grant, it used other funding to provide devices to eighth through 12th grade students and teachers. This grant will provide devices for kindergarten through seventh grade students.
Going from one funding source to another, Beam also reported that he and board president Sue Hollandsworth traveled to Charleston to make a presentation to the West Virginia School Building Authority for a Needs Project.
Beam said the board is requesting $7.6 million to make upgrades to four of the five schools.
“Marlinton Elementary School will get a new roof; they will get HVAC and electrical upgrades and they would get three broilers,” Beam said. “Marlinton Middle School would get windows. Pocahontas County High School would get new air conditioning and electrical upgrades and new windows. Hillsboro would get new air conditioning, two air conditioning units for the gym and then individual air conditioning units for the classrooms.”
Green Bank Elementary-Middle School was not included in this grant because it will be receiving funding for an HVAC upgrade from the American Rescue Plan [ARP] funding. MMS will also get an HVAC upgrade from the same funding source.
Beam said the SBA will announce the projects it has approved on December 13. He said he will be on vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia, but will be watching for the announcement.
“If we happen to get awarded, I’m sure you’ll be hearing me all the way from Williamsburg that day, because it’s a great opportunity for us,” he said. “I’m hesitantly optimistic.”
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Superintendent performance evaluation process as outlined in WVBE Policy 5309 and the template developed by the WVASA and the WVSBA for Pocahontas County Board of Education, beginning the 2022-2023 school year.
• Revised Excessive Heat in Schools policy.
• Pocahontas County Schools to use the Restricted Substitute Waiver for additional substitute teachers for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year, as needed, pending state approval.
• Pocahontas County High School VEX Robotics Team to travel by private vehicle, to compete in the VRC state qualifying tournaments, season commencing December 2021 through March 2022. Travel and competition registration funded by the PCHS STEM club.
• The following overnight, out-of-state travel requests: Green Bank Elementary-Middle School eighth grade students and former eighth grade students – current sophomores – to travel by chartered bus to Virginia Beach, Virginia, June 6-10. Trip to be paid for by fundraising.
See next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times for the personnel agenda.