Superintendent Terrence Beam shared information at the November 30 Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting that may change the way the school system is governed in the state of West Virginia.
Beam explained that the West Virginia Legislature is looking into ways to cut costs and is considering consolidating boards of education into regions. If this takes place, Pocahontas County will no longer have five representatives on the board. It is possible that Pocahontas County will be joined with four other counties, which means it will only have one representative serving on that board.
“This is something the board really needs to start thinking about,” he said. “I know you’re hearing this. There is a real push by our Legislature to eliminate or lessen boards of education members. I think that’s insane, but I think that’s something the legislators are considering and if a model like that was approved, then every county would maybe only have one representative instead of five.”
Beam added that this change might also include the school superintendent. Instead of each county having a superintendent, one person would be in charge of four or five counties in a region, much like the proposed boards of education.
“It’s got a lot of legs, and the legislature is looking very seriously at this,” he said.
If the proposal is approved by the legislature, Beam said it would take time for the change to take effect, but he wanted the board members to be aware that the issue is being discussed.
“Chances are if it would happen, it would have to be something that was grandfathered in,” he said. “They would have to do it gradually because board members have been elected for four year terms. They would have to figure out some way to alleviate that. And, superintendents have contracts. Some have one year, some have four years, so they can’t just cancel somebody’s contract.
“It would take a little bit of time, but that’s the direction that seems like they’re headed in,” he continued. “I don’t understand it at all, but that’s not for me to understand.”
Beam suggested writing the county’s legislators to express dissatisfaction with the proposal and to ask that they consider not voting for the change.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Bid of $250,000 from Robert A. Sheets at public auction held November 12, to purchase approximately 96.40 acres in the Green Bank District of Pocahontas County – known as Tax Map 66B, Parcels 2 and 2.1 – no longer needed for school purposes, and authorizing the superintendent to sign the necessary deed and other documents to finalize the transfer of the property.
• Clinical Teacher of Record (CTR) Program Agreement – formerly known as Teacher-in-Residence (TIR) Agreement – with Fairmont State University and the Pocahontas County Board of Education.
• An overnight trip for Pocahontas County High School VEX Robotics Team, traveling by private vehicle to Martinsburg, February 4-5, for VRC competition. Associated fees to be paid by the PCHS STEM Club.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Resignation of Anne M. Smith as teacher of science at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective January 7, 2022.
• Resignation of Kevin A. Thompson as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, effective December 3.
• Employment of Kevin A. Thompson as substitute school bus operator and substitute custodian for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year, as needed.
• Employment of Jeffrey P. Barlow as volunteer assistant Marlinton Middle School boys basketball coach for the 2021-2022 season.
• Resignation of Earnest R. Hedrick as head PCHS baseball coach for the 2021-2022 school year, retroactive to November 20.
• Permission to post STEM instructional coach, to provide professional development services to any Pocahontas County Schools K-12 teacher interested in integrating math and science into their STEM lessons for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year, at $22 per hour, not to exceed 45 hours or $990, funded by the Math4Life grant.
The next board meeting will be Tuesday, December 21, at 6 p.m., in the board of education conference room.