At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday evening, Hillsboro resident Jay Miller addressed the board with questions concerning the plan to move the board office out of the flood zone and into a new facility.
Miller said he was curious about the plan and wondered why the public was not made aware of the details of the project.
“There’s a lot of details about this project that I think the public should be aware of before a decision is made as to the acquisition of a building,” Miller said. “Is the money that you have saved from the insurance claims that have been made, is that enough to cover the entire cost, not just the acquisition but any renovations that have to be made and the cost of the move and decommissioning this building?
“All of the questions – the secrecy with which this had been done,” Miller added. “The fact that it was announced that it was underway – there’s been no specificity about how much money is involved, where you’re looking for a building, all of this is being held back. In fact, Mr. [Terrence] Beam was quoted in the paper saying ‘when we have a decision, we will let you know.’”
The board members explained to Miller that the reason the plans have not been shared with the public yet is because there are still a lot of unknown factors. The board is currently looking at several properties and has put out a bid to see how much renovations would cost on one of the facilities.
Board member Joe Walker said that the board has not revealed which properties they are looking at because they are trying to be as fiscally responsible as possible and don’t want any issues to arise before they make a deal.
“We’re trying to get this done as economically as possible,” Walker said. “We do not know how much it is going to cost us because we simply don’t have the manpower, nor do we have the resources to go and simply remodel a building. So we have to, under law, we have to put that out for bid, which we did. Until those bids come back, we don’t know how much that is going to cost, so therefore, it may be a futile point. If we don’t know how much it’s going to cost us to demo and rebuild, we do not know along with the purchase price whether or not we can even afford it or not.”
The board and Superintendent Terrence Beam added that if the cost of the building and renovations to the building are more than the amount of money set aside for the board office, the move will not take place.
Miller also questioned why the insurance money was set aside for the board office and was not used to renovate or fix issues at the school buildings.
“With everything else that is going on that doesn’t have money, why is the board now so determined to spend money that it doesn’t know how much or where it’s going to come from to fix their problem with this building when the issues that are still outstanding from the levy haven’t been addressed,” Miller asked. “It’s reasonable to ask why all of a sudden.”
The board said the money was insurance payouts for damage to the board office over the years. While some of the money was used to fix the damage, the rest was set aside in a board office line item. According to the insurance policy, the money paid for damages to the board office must be used to either fix the current board office or used to purchase a new board office. It cannot be used for any other projects.
“It has to be used for the board office,” board vice president Jessica Hefner stated.
“We can’t use it to fix Green Bank,” Beam added.
Miller continued to argue that the money could be used for other projects. Director of Special Education/Student Services/Transportation and Tech Coordinator Ruth Bland explained that the West Virginia Department of Education regulates discretionary and restricted funds, stating that the insurance money falls under restricted funds.
“It’s under the Accounting Principles that we have to follow that’s put out by the West Virginia Department of Education,” Bland said. “There are restricted funds and there are discretionary funds, and the insurance claims are restricted funds. When you get it back from the insurance, it must be spent on what the claim was for and that is under the Accounting Principles.
“If you would like to have a copy of the Accounting Principles, we do have that, you can have it,” Bland continued. “It’s a public document.”
Miller continued to question the board, but board members said the questions were answered and moved on with the evening’s agenda.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Partnership agreement between Bluefield State College, College of Education and Pocahontas County Board of Education, effective for the 2017-2018 school year.
• Teacher-In-Residence Partnership agreement between West Virginia Wesleyan College and Poca- hontas County Board of Education, effective for the 2017-2018 school year.
• Policy KCB/LEBA – Pocahontas County Parent and Family Engagement Policy.
• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Leslie J. Goodall, to provide Occupational Therapy services to students enrolled with Pocahontas County Schools who have an Individualized Education Program for the period of August 16, 2017 through June 30, 2018 at the rate of $60 per hour, not to exceed $15,000.
• Contract between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Denise M. Elliott to provide orientation and mobility services for Pocahontas County Schools for the period of July 3, 2017 through June 30, 2018, at the rate of $200 per day, not to exceed $28,000.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Resignation of Timothy Joshua Corder as itinerant teacher of music at Marlinton Elementary School and Marlinton Middle School, effective August 1.
• Employment of James Groves as custodian III at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic pay, effective for the 2017-2018 school year. Term of employment is 220 days.
• Employment of Stephen D. Mick, Jr., as custodian III at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic pay, effective for the 2017-2017 school year. Term of employment is 220 days.
• Creation of position credit recovery teacher/graduation coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2017-2018 school year, six hours per day, five days per week, not to exceed 30 hours per week at $25 per hour. Position to be paid by Innovation Zone grant.
• Employment of Krystal Sharek as itinerant teacher of special education at Marlinton Elementary School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2017-2018 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Employment of Joanna Burt-Kinderman as math coach, K-12, half-time, for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective for the 2017-2018 school year. Term of employment is 200 one-half days.
• Employment of Angela Bostic and Gary T. Rose as substitute school bus operators for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, as needed for the 2017-2018 school year.
• Employment of Morgan G. McComb as substitute custodian for Pocahontas County School, at state basic pay, as needed for the 2017-2018 school year.
• Employment Dalton Irvine as groundsman for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to June 16 through August 9, not to exceed 38 days, at state basic pay.
• Rescind the following action: Employment of Denise M. Elliott as orientation and mobility specialist, extended school year, at Marlinton Middle School, at $120 per hour, 7.5 hours per week.
The next board meeting will be Monday, July 31, at 6 p.m., at the board of education conference room.