Director of maintenance and school safety Ron Hall gave an update at the board of education meeting Monday night, reporting that the five county schools are showing their age and suffering from many issues.
Hall also addressed the water tank issue at Pocahontas County High School stating that Southern Corrosion, LLC, has been very helpful with ensuring the water is safe to use in the school.
The issue arose several weeks ago when it was first noticed the water had a faint smell of paint. Southern Corrosion was contracted this summer to repaint and repair the interior and exterior of the water tank.
For the past three weeks, students and staff have been drinking and cooking with bottled water until the water in the tank could be tested. Southern Corrosion tested the water and Hall said the test showed the water was fine by OSHA standards.
“The water tank has been a nightmare to the point that somebody contacted the state today and said that the smell was strong in it and there was blistering in it and so today, I went up and crawled in that water tank, and none of that’s true,” Hall said. “The metal is pitted, but the way it is pitted, they put on a special bonding and then they paint over all that. Everything looked good. That guy said it will be fifteen, twenty years before we have any trouble, before we have to redo it again.”
Hall added that the men from Southern Corrosion have been very helpful. The company brought a 2,000 gallon tank to the school, which will be used while the other tank is throughly dried out and refilled.
“We’ll switch over tomorrow,” Hall said. “We’ve got the water fountains open tonight, letting them run to bleed out whatever was in that line and then tomorrow we’ll be switching to a different tank. We think what happened is the water backed up, we have a leak in one of our valves and the water backed up and laid in the bottom of that thing which kept it from curing because of the moisture in there. We have to work on that valve to get the water to quit backing up in the tank until we can get it cured good.”
The high school isn’t the only school with water issues, Hall reported. Marlinton Middle School had a slight issue with pipes, as well as Marlinton Elementary and Green Bank Elementary-Middle Schools. Both schools have sprinkler systems which are in bad repair.
“The schools are worn out,” Hall said. “I know they look good because we’ve got really good custodians, but our schools are worn out just in a nutshell. All the infrastructure in the schools, the plumbing, the sewers, all that stuff is worn out and these sprinkler systems, those are dry systems and the pipes, you can run your finger through the sides of the pipe because of corrosion.”
Hall said it is discouraging because the list keeps going on and on. Once one thing is fixed, there are three more things that pop up needing immediate attention. With two maintenance people, it is difficult to address all the issues in a timely fashion.

“The lifespan of a school is about fifty years,” he said. “We bring in more technology and we don’t have the capability of running this technology. What do you do? I don’t know. We’re patching. We spend our time running around patching. When we fix one thing, there’s three other things waiting on us.”

Preparing for the winter, Hall said a lot of the furnaces have issues and he is trying to get them in the best shape before they are officially fired to heat the schools.

“Furnaces are my number one priority because once we fire those furnaces – I can’t shut them back off to repair them because they’re down for two or three days – so I’ve got to get them fixed now which means new nozzles, all gaskets. We’re tearing into them and cleaning them out. It’s a job, but we’re doing the best we can.”

On a positive note, Hall reported he was able to get air conditioning units for all the classrooms at Hillsboro Elementary School and they are helping cool the rooms down a bit. He added that the parking lots have all been repaired.

The board thanked Hall for his report and asked him to keep them informed as issues arise.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• Joseph Riley, Stephanie Burns, Jan Jonese, Cynthia Shreve and Denise Sharp to travel to AMLE Annual Conference for middle level education in Columbus, Ohio, on October 15 through 17. All expenses to be paid by federal funds.

• Thirty-two Green Bank Elementary-Middle School fourth grade students to travel by Charter bus to Washington, D.C. on May 31 through June 2. No county funds will be used.

• Twenty-eight Green Bank Elementary-Middle School eighth grade students to travel by Charter bus to Virginia Beach, Virginia, May 23 through 27. All expenses are to be paid by fundraising.

• Lease agreement between the Pocahontas County Board of Education and The Pocahontas County Free Libraries, effective September 14, for a term of fifteen years. The agreement shall be automatically renewable for one year, each year on July 1, unless the agreement is cancelled by the Board of Education. The rate will be $1 annually.

• Pocahontas County Collaborative Preschool Memorandum of Understanding between Pocahontas County Board of Education and North Central West Virginia Community Action Association, Inc. – Head Start Program, per the terms of the MOU.

• Patrick “Cully” McCurdy as volunteer assistant boys and girls soccer coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.

• Policy BCBM – Board of Education Meetings.

• Create astronomy course and syllabus for Pocahontas County High School students as an elective for the 2015-2016 school year.

• Syllabus for computer science elective at Pocahontas County High School.

• One Pocahontas County High School student to study constitutional law, independently, as an elective for the 2015-2016 school year.

• Syllabus for constitutional law.

• Jean O. Srodes as volunteer golf sponsor at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2015-2016.

• Accept bid from Heritage International Trucks, Inc. for one school bus at the total price of $89,998 per the terms of the bid.

• Cheryl Beverage as Pocahontas County Board of Education representative to the RESA IV Staff Development Council.

• Memorandum of Understanding between West Virginia Department of Education and Pocahontas County Board of Education in response to Graduation 20/20, 2015-2017.

• Devan Simmons as volunteer assistant cheerleading coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 season.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of Amanda Nottingham as teacher of multi-subjects/social studies at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective September 15 for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 175 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.

• Purchase of planning period Timothy Joshua Corder as teacher of music at Marlinton Elementary School/Marlinton Middle School, retroactive to the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year at daily rate of pay.

• Employment of Justin M. Kerr as teacher of welding at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective September 16, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 174 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.

• Employment of Patrick Duane Gibson as mentor for Justin M. Kerr, effective September 16, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year at a supplement of $1,000.

• Requested transfer of Anne M. Smith from teacher of science at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, to itinerant teacher of special education (LD, BD, MI)/autism at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience, effective October 21, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year. Contract will be 200 days each year thereafter.

• Resignation of Melinda F. Bussard as substitute aide and substitute cook for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to August 31.

• Employment of Karrie Jack as itinerant special education classroom/bus aide at Marlinton Elementary School, at state basic pay, effective September 16, for the remainder of 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 174 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.

• Employment of the following substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 16, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, as needed, at state basic pay: Grazia Apolinares, Sarah A. Eves, Mark Hengimhle, Victoria Poundstone, Andrew G. Pritt, Shenda Smith, Sue Streisle and LyAnn B. Zelinsky.

• Employment of Jamie C. Walker as substitute maintenance for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 16, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, emergency use only, at state basic pay.

• Employment of Karen Whitehouse as substitute cook for Pocahontas County Schools, effective September 16, as needed, for the remainder of the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic pay.

In personnel management, the board did not approve the following:

• Creation of position seasonal athletic coordinator for soccer/7th and 8th grade football/football at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 school year, at a supplement of $750.

The board of education will have a special meeting, Monday, September 21, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.

The next board meeting is Monday, September 28, at 7 p.m., at the board of education conference room.