At the board of education meeting Monday night, concerned parents and teachers voiced their opinions on the proposal to move fifth grade students out of Marlinton Middle School and into Hillsboro and Marlinton elementary schools.
The action was first considered in January 2013 when then Superintendent C.C. Lester asked the board to consider reconfiguring the schools to PreK through 5, 6 through 8 and 9 through 12.
A public meeting was held at Marlinton Middle School where parents and teachers shared their insight into whether fifth grade students belonged in an elementary or middle school environment. The collective was split down the middle, as was the board.
At the February 11, 2013 meeting the board voted to move the fifth grade, only to rescind the decision at the February 25, 2013 meeting.
New superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel revisited the move and explained that the reconfiguration will follow the trend of schools in West Virginia.
“When you look at the configuration that we will have in the coming years throughout the state of West Virginia, [it is] PreK through 5, 6 through 8 and 9 through 12,” Bechtel said. “When you look at fifth graders and you look at where they are developmentally – nine- ten- eleven-years-old – they are called tweenagers; not yet in adolescence, not yet in puberty.
Bechtel added that research shows that the elementary school configuration of PreK through 5th grade assists with the development of students, emotionally and educationally.
“When you take a look at much of the research, they talk about students being in one location for a longer period of time, as in six to seven years and when you have a PreK-5 configuration, you have that support system,” he said. “It’s the quality of the overall curriculum plan and the quality of instruction, and the support system that exists at the actual school.”
Board member Jan McNeel said the new curriculum that has been in place for three years – Common Core Standards – also follows the new configuration.
“Common Core is geared – the assessment and the curriculum – is PreK through 5, 6 through 8, 9 through 12, so that’s the way the curriculum roles out and it provides staff development,” McNeel said.
After taking all opinions into consideration and weighing the options, the board of education approved the move of fifth grade to the elementary level with a 3-2 vote. Board members Cheryl Beverage and Steve Tritapoe voted against the move.
The reconfiguration will begin with the 2014-2015 school year.
In other news:
• Dr. Bechtel announced that Stephanie Burns was selected Teacher of the Year and Lisa McCarty, Service Personnel of the Year. He said they will be recognized at the Super Scholars event.
• Band directors Bob Mann and Rick McLaughlin reported that they had 10 students attend collegiate honor bands recently. They recognized Miles Goodall, Danielle Cain, Kyle Lester, Caitlin Barnes, Kimberly Lester, Kayla Lester, Joey Friel, Amanda Gibson, Mark Jordan and Kaitlyn Lester for their achievements.
• Archery team coach Rebecca Spencer informed the board that the archery team has outgrown its practice area at the Pocahontas County Community Wellness Center and was recently granted permission by the Pocahontas County Commission to use the ARC building.
She asked the board for approval to allow the students to use the facility. Dr. Bechtel said he would place the item on the next board agenda for a vote. The board said it did not see a problem with using the facility.
The board also congratulated the archery team for a stellar year, which ended with the elementary team winning first place at the state competition.
• National Radio Astronomy Observatory business manager Mike Holstine shared copies of the Technology survey compiled by the Technology committee. Holstine explained that the survey included information about Internet speed at the schools, an inventory of computers and software, and suggestions from the committee of ways the board can improve the school’s technology.
The board thanked Holstine for his assistance on the project. Once it has thoroughly reviewed the survey, the board said it may have more questions for Holstine with regards to improvements.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
• Bank reconciliation for February 2014.
• Payment of vendor listings of claims in the amounts of $208,488.23; $51,017.87 and $21,269.98.
• Memorandum of Agreement between Pocahontas County board of education and West Virginia University Extension Service.
• To finalize payment to MIRC Construction Services and Hooten Equipment Company, LLC.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Toney Minter as volunteer baseball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2013-2014 season.
• Policies FJ – Energy Plan for Pocahontas County Schools and IH – Grading System for Pocahontas County Schools.
• School calendar for 2014-2015 school year.
• To place Policy IE – School Calendar on 30-day comment.
• To abolish policies IHA – Grading System and IHA-R/IHAA-R – Grading and Reporting System.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Resignation of Sandra R. Irvine, due to retirement, as custodian IV/sanitation plant operator at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the day on April 30.
• Resignation of Thomas E. Plumley, due to retirement, as teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
• Transfer of Kelli M. Tallman, pursuant to West Virginia Department of Education Policy 5000, because Kelli M. Tallman was subject to a reduction in force, approved by the Pocahontas County Board of Education on February 24, she shall be considered an applicant for any vacancy in any established, existing or newly created position that, on or before February 15, was known to exist for the 2014-2015 school year. The board shall appoint Tallman before posting such vacancies for application by other persons.
The board previously accepted the retirement of Linda Wilfong, kindergarten teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School. That position is needed for the 2014-2015 school year, therefore, that vacancy is reserved for Tallman and she shall be assigned to kindergarten teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School for the 2014-2015 school year.
• Employment of Sarah E. Hamilton as half-time secretary II/accountant II at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective April 9 for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year. Term of employment is 45 one-half days. Term of employment shall be 215 one-half days each year thereafter.
• Creation of position teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2014-2015. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Creation of position teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary school, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2014-2015 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Creation of position half-time teacher of art at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2014-2015 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 200 one-half days.
• Resignation of Lisa R. Burns as project ELA tutor/enrichment instructor for after-school program, at Marlinton Middle School, retroactive to March 28.
• Abolishment of position teacher of mathematics at Marlinton Middle School, effective at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
• Abolishment of position teacher of English/language arts at Marlinton Middle School, effective at the end of the 2013-2014 school year.
• Employment of Douglas L. Burns as head football coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2014-2015 season, at a supplement of $4,000.
• Employment of Teresa Sharp as baseball coordinator at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2013-2014 season at a supplement of $500.
• Creation of position Coordinator of teaching and learning (PreK-8) for Pocahontas County Schools, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2014-2015 school year. Term of employment is 220 days.
• Employment of Sara H. McClintic as substitute administrator for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to March 31, as needed, for the remainder of the 2013-2014 fiscal year, at state basic pay.
• Employment of M. Susan Arbogast and Christin D. Shinaberry, as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective April 9, as needed, for the remainder of the 2013-2014 school year, at state basic pay.
Probationary and Continuing Contract employment will be in next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times.
The next board meeting will be Tuesday, April 22, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com