At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night, State Fire Marshal Tim Mouse addressed the board’s concerns about the sprinkler system and fire alarm system at Marlinton Elementary School.
Mouse informed the board that the sprinkler system is on borrowed time, and it’s just a matter of time before it will be out of commission for good.
“It’s at the end of its life cycle,” he said. “When they do a drip test, all you get are leaks. It definitely needs replaced. The fire alarm system needs replaced. It’s outdated, you can’t get parts for it.”
Mouse added that the fire alarm systems at Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School are also outdated and in the same boat as MES.
The sprinkler system at MES is a dry system which is filled with air. When the pressure drops, the water is released. Mouse and Director of Maintenance Ron Hall both said when the sprinkler system has a pressure drop, it seems as though it is running at full power due to the amount of leaks in the lines.
“If the pressure in the line drops, and I think that’s been a lot of your issues next door, there are so many leaks in that line that it can’t hold the pressure,” Mouse said.
Board member Joe Walker asked Mouse what kind of options the board has with regard to the sprinkler system.
“So our best case scenario, if nothing blows, we can keep limping by, correct?” Walker asked.
“You’re not going to keep limping by next door,” Mouse answered. “That sprinkler system and fire alarm system have been on the report before I even came, and I started doing inspections in the county in 2011.”
Mouse said if the sprinkler system went down, the school would have to do fire watches where the halls are patrolled to ensure the school is safe. If the system is down for more than a few days, the students will have to be moved to another location until the system can be fixed or replaced.
At this time, with the proposed school levy on the horizon, the board hopes to avoid replacing the sprinkler system in a building that will be closed if the levy passes.
Walker asked Mouse if he understood what the board is trying to accomplish and Mouse replied that he did.
“I’m behind you one hundred percent,” Mouse said. “I really am. You’ve got the SBA [School Building Authority] on board, then you need to take all advantages you can get. I wish you all the best in that. To improve the education in this county, it’s a no-brainer.”
Hall said to replace the sprinkler system and the fire alarm system, just in MES, would cost the board a rough estimate of $300,000.
The board thanked Mouse for his report and asked him to attend the public meeting regarding the school levy on November 1. The meeting will be at 6 p.m. at the Pocahontas County Opera House. SBA director David Sneed will also be in attendance.
After Mouse’s report, Hall added there are several maintenance issues throughout the county.
“We’ve got a freezer down in Hillsboro,” Hall said. “We started working on it, and I had to pull the guys off it to do furnaces because it’s getting cold. We’ve had the sewer system go down at the fieldhouse. Water came through when we had that last big rain and broke the line in two. That’s my life every day.”
Hall said the maintenance department is focused on the sprinkler systems in the schools, as well, but it is difficult to focus on one project because so many things are going down at once.
“It’s disheartening,” he said. “We’re just trying to get everything caught up. As soon as we start one project, ten other things are breaking. It’s amazing.”
The board thanked Hall for his report and asked him to keep them informed on any other issues in the maintenance department.
• Ruth Bland, Director of Special Education/Student Services/Transportation and Tech Coordinator, shared some good and bad news. The bad news was that the lift at the bus garage has been condemned and is now out of service.
Bland said the unit’s rear cylinder has a leak and she could replace the cylinder, which would require jackhammering the floor, and get a new lift, costing $50,000. The other option is to get a portable floor jack for roughly $35,000, but due to EPA regulations, the cylinder in the floor would still need to be removed.
Bland said that she gets reimbursed, by the State Department of Education, for 95 percent of what she spends on the bus garage.
The board asked Bland to get estimates on both options and told her to ask the mechanics what their preference would be for the replacement.
In good news, Bland reported she received nearly $500,000 in a grant from the US Department of Agriculture. The grant was for Polycom units for the schools, board office, School Days Daycare and McClintic Library. Bland applied for the grant with Webster County and both counties received the equipment.
Bland said the goal is for Pocahontas and Webster counties to use the systems individually and together, sharing programs at both counties’ schools.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Articulation agreement between Pocahontas County High School welding concentration and New River Community and Technical Welding Technology CAS, retroactive to the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year.
• Lisa M. Dennison to transport five students, by personal vehicle, to Smarter Lunchroom Strategies and Healthy Eating Strategies conferences in Charleston, departing Pocahontas County High School October 11 and returning to Pocahontas County High School October 12. All expenses to be paid by Action for Healthy Kids Grant.
• Richard J. Bantel, a resident of Greenbrier County, to enroll his child in Pocahontas County Schools effective October 12, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year.
• The Pocahontas County High School Forestry Department to purchase a 2011 Chevrolet Express G3500 10-passenger van from Mitchell Chevrolet at the cost of $13,978. To be paid by NRAO funds.
• West Virginia Oral Disease Prevention Project.
• Policy BCBM – Board of Education Meeting, retroactive to October 1.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Unpaid Medical Leave of Stacy E. Landis as teacher of science at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, retroactive to October 4 or upon exhaustion of personal leave through December 12.
• Requested transfer Renee D. Hill from supervisory early childhood classroom assistant teacher/preschool aide at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to early childhood classroom assistant teacher/aide/bus aide at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2017-2018 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Rescind the following action taken at the board of education meeting held on September 26: On recommendation of the superintendent and motion by Mr. Tritapoe, seconded by Ms. Campbell, the board approved the consent to change of Melissa Hill-Doss, from counselor at Marlinton Middle School to counselor at Marlinton Middle School and Pocahontas County High School, effective October 3 for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year. Motion passed with a 4-1 vote, Mr. Tritapoe casting the only dissenting vote.
• Rescind the following action taken at the board of education meeting held on June 6: On recommendation of the superintendent and motion of Mrs. Hefner, seconded by Mr. Walker, the board unanimously employed Skylar Knisely as head boys basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2016-2017 season, at a supplement of $750.
• Employment of David L. Moore, Jr., as head boys basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2016-2017 season, at a supplement of $750.
• Requested transfer of Denise W. Sharp from teacher of science at Marlinton Middle School to teacher of alternative education at Marlinton Middle School, effective October 12, through the end of the 2016-2017 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience.
• Employment of Charlie M. Hughes as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective October 12, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school year, as needed, at state basic pay.
• Employment of Peggy Owens as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year, as needed, for the remainder of the 2016-2017 school as at state basic pay.
The next Local School Improvement Council/Faculty Senate work session will be Monday, October 17, at 3 p.m., at Marlinton Middle School.
The next regular board meeting is Monday, October 24, at 6 p.m., at the board of education conference room.