At the board of education meeting Monday night, special guest Delegate Denise Campbell updated board members on the education bills which were passed or vetoed during the recent legislative session.
Campbell serves on the education committee and diligently works on bills that directly affect the education of students in West Virginia. Sometimes her efforts work. Sometimes they don’t.
“What is so disheartening to being in the legislature and supporting pieces of legislation is you get all the way through the process and you work so hard to get to day 59,” she said. “It’s made it through all the committees, all the debate, all the things that were added and then they get over to the other house, and they work on it on the other side. It gets all the way through, you think, until you get to day 60 and it doesn’t make it.”
Campbell experienced this process with several bills she supported with only a few making it to the end.
“One of the most heated topics we talked about had to do with alternate certification,” she said. “I’m sure that you all are aware that bill did pass and the governor did sign that. What that allows is maybe somebody who works at Green Bank Observatory who has a master’s degree or bachelor’s degree in a science field – they can apply through different organizations and they would be considered as having an alternate teaching certification.”
Campbell said the alternate certification bill would help in shortage areas by allowing individuals with degrees to teach with special certification while they work to obtain a two-year teaching degree.
Another topic discussed in the legislative session concerned ways of making up missed instruction days.
Campbell, who represents Pocahontas and Randolph counties, said she was disappointed that the State Department of Education recently denied all snow day waivers submitted by county boards of education.
“I wrote a letter to the state superintendent regarding why I think those of us who live in rural West Virginia have a difficult time with snow days,” she said. “Everyone considers West Virginia rural, which is not true. If you look at the federal definition that meets the criteria to be considered a rural county, guess how many counties in West Virginia are considered rural? Two – Pocahontas and Randolph.”
Campbell said she included information in her letter explaining to the superintendent why the rural counties need to be treated slightly different than the other counties.
“I have proof that says that we are actually rural counties and issues for rural counties are different than some of the counties,” she said. “In some of the counties, you can get on a bus and your kids can ride for fifteen minutes. Our kids get on a bus in Pocahontas County, Randolph County and they can be on a bus anywhere from thirty to forty five minutes one way.”
One solution Campbell attempted to present in the form of a bill was Blizzard Packets – an idea she got from her sister who is an educator in Ohio.
“It allows for boards of education to approve certain packets of information,” she said. “They can either be accessed by the Internet or you can go ahead and give the assignments on an iPad or they could give the students packets the first week of school. Whenever school is called off, this packet would be equivalent to three days.
“I worked myself to death saying we’ve got to get that to go on,” she continued. “It passed the House. It passed the Senate. It went to the governor and he vetoed it.”
In a later conversation, Campbell said Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said he was concerned about the packets because he had committed to the 180 days of education and had an issue with anything that would lead to students not receiving 180 days of in-school instruction.
“He has assured me that we are going to work together at the next session to try to come up with something that everybody could agree on,” Campbell said. “He and his staff have agreed that they will work with us and try to come up with some sort of alternative.”
Campbell also mentioned the bill to repeal the Common Core Standards and the bill to calculate educational time in minutes and not days. Both bills were vetoed in the end.
The board thanked Campbell for her time and invited her to come back with more updates.
In other news:
• Pocahontas County Commission attorney Bob Martin addressed the board concerning the land which is Green Bank owned by the two entities. The board of education land was deeded over to the commission with the stipulation it could be used for economic development.
Martin explained that the deed has a reversionary clause which would return the land back to the board if it is not used properly. He said the commission is asking the board to have the clause removed and allow the land to be used.
The board asked Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel to work with board attorney Jason Long and Martin to revise the deed.
Martin also reported that the commission is giving ownership of the generator and tank located at Marlinton Middle School to the board. The items were installed and purchased by the commission to be used in emergency situations.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• To place Policy GBE-B – Extra Duty and Extra Curricular Bus Operator Policy on 30-day comment.
• To place Policy JBB – Entrance Age on 30-day comment.
• Ricky I. Sharp, II, Marsha Beverage, Julie Brown and Ira Brown from Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, and Terrance Beam or Ruth Bland to attend the Nuts and Bolts Symposium in Destin, Florida, June 23-26. All costs will be paid through the Family Resource Network Innovation Zone Dropout Prevention Grant.
• Robert B. Miller, Michael Adkins, Cammy Kesterson, Amy Coleman, Wanda Hrabina, Joy Boothe and Jennifer Nail from Pocahontas County High School, and Dr. Donald Bechtel to attend the High Schools That Work Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, July 15-18. All costs will be paid through the Family Resource Network Innovation Zone Dropout Prevention Grant.
• Policy GBQC – Critical Needs/Shortage – Substitute Teachers.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Employment from preferred recall list of Ellen D. Fortney as teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Employment from preferred recall list of Kimberly N. Shinaberry as teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Requested transfer of Lisa R. Burns from teacher of English/language arts at Marlinton Middle School to teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective for the 2015-2016 school year. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Requested transfer of Cory A. Friel from custodian III at Pocahontas County High School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to custodian III at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 220 days.
• Recommended transfers for the 2015-2016 school year of the following:
– Michelle L. Arbogast from early education classroom aide at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 200 days.
– Lisa M. Dennison as coordinator of Child Nutrition/Technology Integration Specialist for Pocahontas County Schools.
– Stephanie L. Barkley as secretary III/accountant III at the Central Office.
– Jennifer M. Barlow as executive secretary/accountant III at the Central Office.
– Cora Lee Carpenter as executive secretary/accountant III at the Central Office.
– Melissa A. Ervine as executive secretary/accountant III at the Central Office.
– Kristin L. Kinnison as executive secretary/accountant III at the Central Office.
• Employment of Melinda Gayle Boyette, Lori Ann Doolittle, David Lee Moore and Kelsey Walther as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective April 15 or upon completion of the RESA Online Substitute Teacher Training and background clearance, as needed, at state basic salary based on degree and experience.
The next board meeting is Monday, April 27, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.