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Impact from changes remains uncertain-class size matters

By Megan Moriarty

Allegheny Mountain Radio

According to the Department of Education’s Institute of Education Science, small class sizes have been proven to increase student achievement. This was one of the points brought up at Monday night’s Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, where parents and teachers from Green Bank Elementary and Middle School continued to respond to the Board’s recent decision to abolish two teaching positions at the school.

Science Teacher Anne Smith described Green Bank’s new schedule, revised in response to the recent loss of the two teaching positions, and explained how these changes will negatively impact the school.

A number of students will be able to take only one elective—either art, band or Spanish.

Two physical education classes will share the gym at one time, with 24 students in one half of the gym and 16 students in the other half.

A first grade teacher will have to teach fifth grade science. The fifth grade teacher will have to teach all other fifth grade courses, as well as a 90-minute period of six grade reading and language arts.

The changes at Green Bank will also lead to a number of combined classes: in first grade for one period, fifth grade for all periods except science, sixth grade for all periods, and eighth grade for all periods except math.

“The positions that were cut at Green Bank were paid for,” Smith said. “They’re needed. And I believe the education of the students at Green Bank will suffer because of these cuts. Not because of the teachers but because of the combined classes and small rooms and areas in which to work in.”

In other matters, surrounding the changes brought about by the fifth grade moving from Marlinton Middle to Marlinton Elementary School, parents are concerned as to how the move will negatively impact the drama and band programs at Marlinton Middle School.

The Board approved the resignation of Janet E. McNeel as Board of Education member and representative of the southern district of Pocahontas County. Cheryl Beverage was elected as Board Vice President for the term ending June 30, 2016. Emory Grimes was elected as Board of Education Member representative for the RESA IV Regional Council, effective for the 2014-2015 school year.

The Board also approved the following:

• Agreement with Laurel B. Dilley to serve as Volunteer Assistant Track Coach (girls) at Pocahontas County High School

• Agreement with Mark A. Agee to serve as Volunteer Assistant Coach for seventh and eighth grade football at Pocahontas County High School

• Agreement between the Board of Education and Pocahontas County Commission regarding the installation and maintenance of a generator at Marlinton Middle School to be used in the event of declared emergencies

• Memorandums of Understanding with Community Care of West Virginia, Inc. to provide School Based Healthcare to the students at Pocahontas County High School, Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, and Marlinton Middle School, and Marlinton Elementary School

• A contract with Nancy T. Martin to provide Technology Support Assistant Services to Pocahontas County Schools

• A contract with Joyce Ware to provide psychological and other evaluation services for Pocahontas County Schools

• Employment for Angela G. Irvine as Custodian III half-time at Hillsboro Elementary

• Employment for P. Erwin Berry as Teacher of Agriculture Education at Pocahontas County High School

• Employment for Rebecca Davis as Itinerant Classroom Aide/Bus Aid for Pocahontas County Schools

• Employment for Mark Landis as Assistant Football Coach at Pocahontas County High School

• The following individuals were approved as Substitute Teachers in Pocahontas Schools for the 2014-2015 school year: Daniel E. Arbogast II, M. Susan Arbogast, Delmos F. Barb, Teresa W. Barb, Matthew Barkley, Shannon B. Bircher, McArthur L. Buzzard Jr., Jessica E. Cole, Jessica Hayes, Diane E. Hoover, Michael R. Hudson, Allen Johnson, Debora Johnson, Cheryl Jonese, Judith A. Kane, Mary Lois McCutcheon, Freda P. McKean, Maria McKelvey, Rebecca A. O’Brien, Susan G. Peck, Thomas E. Plumly, Victoria J. Poundstone, Brittany Propst, Aaron Pugh, Christine Ribinsky, Lucy M. Rittenhouse, Jack M. Sanders Jr., Robert A Sheets, Jean O. Srodes, Louse M. Starke, Becky Taylor, Linda H. VanReenen, Timothy W. VanReenen, Jeanette D. Wagner, Cindy L. White and Sharla Sherman

Superintendent Donald Bechtel gave special recognition to Jean Srodes for her work with high school students for credit recovery.

“We’re having a lot of success,” Bechtel said, “and it’s because of her encouragement and persistence and connection with the students and the parents.”

Srodes was recognized as a Governor’s Service Award recipient earlier this year.

The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, August 11, at 7 p.m. in the board conference room.

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