As the board of education was reviewing the budget at Monday night’s meeting, board president Emery Grimes revealed that the Secure Rural Schools funding, known as “Forestry Money,” was not included in the federal budget.
“They did away with it,” Grimes said. “The $408,300 is what we got last year. We only budgeted $150,000 this year and we’re getting nothing.”
The SRS funding was established by Congress in 2000 as payment in lieu of taxes for counties with a large percentage of National and State Forest land as payment in lieu of taxes. In West Virginia, Pocahontas County received the most funding as it is home to 310,000 acres of national forest.
The funding decreased each year. In 2013, Congress passed a one year reauthorization of the funding as part of HR 527 Helium Stewardship Act. The SRS Act was not reauthorized in the 2014 budget.
“They kind of warned us that that was going to be all,” Grimes said. “They didn’t put it in the Federal Budget. It comes through the Secretary of the Interior, and I think it was last year or the year before last, we had a heck of a time getting the Secretary of the Interior to include it in the budget.”
Grimes said he is disappointed that the funding was not included in the budget this year.
“Here’s what really bothers me and I’ve said this several times, this money was there,” he said. “It was appropriated and we had to get lobbyist to lobby our government, our senators to get this money and they get a certain amount of that for lobbying. Something’s wrong with that system. We elect them. Why do we have to hire a lobbyist? It just seems weird that you have to hire lobbyists to try to get money.”
The board suggested that the community start a letter-writing campaign and contact Pocahontas County senators and representatives with concerns over the loss of the funds.
• The board recognized Pocahontas County High School freshman Mark Jordan for winning the Krypto Tournament at the county Math Field Day competition. Jordan was presented $50 by coordinator of teaching and learning Christina Smith.
• Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel reported that the board office is decorated with 32 pieces of art by Green Bank Elementary-Middle School students from art teacher Alison Flegel’s classes.
Bechtel also thanked custodian Thomas Barnisky for his efforts in reinvigorating the board conference room.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amounts of $35,988.90; $54,863.20; and $120,915.41.
• Grant Awards and Budget Transfer requests.
• Extra duty pay for the month of December 2014
• Bank Reconciliations for the months of November and December 2014
• Revenue and Expenditures Summaries for the months of November and December 2014.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Steven C. Tritapoe as volunteer assistant girls basketball coach at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2014-2015 season.
• Retroactive – Pocahontas County High School FFA Chapter to travel by school bus to the Pennsylvania Farm Show in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, departing Pocahontas County High School on Sunday, January 11 and returning January 12. Costs associated with the trip will be paid for by the FFA Chapter.
• Courtney E. Curran and Loretta E. Wayne as volunteer coaches for fifth grade basketball at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
• To extend the contract of Christine A. Smith, to provide gifted services at Hillsboro Elementary School, an additional two and a half days per week retroactive to January 5 through February 13. Smith will be compensated $275 for each additional day.
In professional management, the board approved the following:
• Employment of Tonya Warder as assistant girls basketball coach at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2014-2015 season, at a supplement of $1,000.
• Requested transfer of Sarah C. Brown, from teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, to teacher of Title I, half-time, at Hillsboro Elementary School, at state basic pay based on degree and experience, effective for the 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 200 one-half days.
• Employment of Jeanette D. Wagner as teacher of Option Pathway (GED) at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic pay based on degree and experience, effective January 14 for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year. Term of employment is 98 days. Note: Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.
• Resignation of Randall L. Ware as teacher of electricity at Pocahontas County High School, retroactive to November 17.
• Creation of positions two credit recovery teachers, extracurricular, at Pocahontas County High School, effective the week of January 26 through May 8, at $20 per hour, two hours per day, two days per week, not to exceed $1,200 per position. Positions to be funded through the Innovation Zone Drop Out Prevention grant.
• Resignation of Ricky A. Irvine, due to retirement, as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
• Employment of Kaitlyn Goins and Michelle D. Wilfong as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 14 for the remainder of the 2014-2015 school year, as needed, at state basic pay based on degree and experience.
The board will have a special meeting Tuesday, January 20, at 7 p.m. to interview potential board members to fill the vacant seat of Suzanne Stewart formerly held by Kenneth Vance. Stewart agreed to serve until the new term began. No candidates filed for the seat in the May General Election. The interviews will be closed to the public, but the board will enter open session to present the new member.
The next board meeting will be Monday, January 26, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.