Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

The board of education conference room had standing room only at the board meeting Monday night, as staff and supporters of Marlinton Middle School gathered to show support for the school.

In response to the conversation held at the May 26 board meeting concerning issues at the school, the staff banned together to show its concern with the way the issue was handled by the board.

Health and physical education teacher Cathy Mitchell shared her disappointment with how MMS was portrayed at the last meeting.

“I’m offended that this discussion occurred in open session rather than in an executive session as it dealt with personnel even though you didn’t name names,” she said. “The remarks made about MMS were, to say the least, vague in nature and to say the most, inaccurate and unprofessional coming from the leaders of our education system.”

The conversation at the May 26 meeting began after the board approved to allow two Marlinton students to transfer to Green Bank Elementary-Middle School for the 2015-2016 school year. After voting, the board asked the parents why they chose to move the students.

None of the staff of MMS was at that meeting to offer input to the discussion.

Mitchell said she is worried about the way the conversation painted MMS and gave the public the wrong impression of how things are done at the school.

“I want you to realize the impact of your comments on your community and one of your schools in particular,” she said. “No school is perfect and it certainly is not possible to make everyone happy. We are all a part of this community.

“With your open discussion you have sent ripples of negativity and sown distrust between your community and one of your schools,” she continued. “Marlinton Middle is not just a building. It’s a group of people who work hard each day to create a positive learning environment for our community’s children.”

MMS principal Joe Riley added that he was shocked and saddened to hear the conversation took place.

“I was surprised and shocked by the conversation after the vote where two members took it upon themselves to use generalizations and a few negative opinions to sway the public view of one of our schools,” he said. “It saddened me that an entity that is supposed to be part of our network and support could attack one of its own without having any conversation with the school about the vague and small number of accusations made.”

The board of education is holding a special meeting Tuesday, June 16, at 7 p.m. at Marlinton Middle School to further discuss the issues and work on solutions.

Both Mitchell and Riley asked the board to enter the meeting with open minds.

“There’s enough smart people in this room that care about kids that we can come up with solutions that don’t involve tearing down people,” Riley said.

In other discussions:

• Mary Clendenen with Pocahontas County Solid Waste Authority addressed the board concerning a parcel of land in Green Bank.

The board owns a parcel of land located behind the green boxes in Green Bank and Clendenen said the SWA is interested in expanding the green boxes site. She asked the board to either lease or sell 1.88 acres of the land to the SWA.

Clendenen said the SWA is willing to pay for surveying as well as legal fees in order to transfer the land.

Board president Emery Grimes spoke for the board and said the board would be willing to make the transfer. He asked treasurer Sherry Radcliff to take the issue to board attorney Jason Long.
The item will be on the June 22 agenda for board approval.

In updates:

• Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel recognized employees who have retired this year. He said the 11 employees accumulated 227 years of service to Pocahontas County Schools. Retirees are: Thomas Barnisky, 35 years; Cathy Mitchell, 33 years; Susan Chappel, 17 years; Mali Minter, 14 years; Jean Taylor, 19 years; Wanda Withers, 15 years; Ricky Irvine; 36 years; Lake Vaughan, 27 years; Charlotte Burgess, 18 years; Virginia Shaw, 33 years; and Nathalie Richardson, 30 years.

Bechtel also reported that there will be a summer reading program for students in PreK through third grade. Each student will receive a bag of books donated by the Family Resource Network.

“Each child will get a red or blue canvas sack with books in it,” Bechtel said. “Parents will read to kids – kids will read to parents. We’ll have a celebration when they come back in August. We’re excited about what this will offer as far as helping kids. We hope it will also encourage their parents to take them to the library.”

In financial management, the board approved the following:

• To accept the bid from Mitchell Chevrolet, in the amount of $29,415.60, for a 2015 Chevrolet 3500 pick-up with a gasoline engine and mechanic’s bed.

• To accept the bid from Hooten Equipment Company, Inc. to install a kitchen ventilation system at Pocahontas County High School at a cost of $62,225. This includes electricity, roof, removal of the old ventilation system and installation of new ventilation system.

• To accept the bid from Southern Corrosion, Inc. from Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, to paint the water tank at Pocahontas County High School at a cost of $42,519.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• To place the following policies on 30-day comment period: GBQC – Critical Need/Shortage – Substitute Teachers; KCB-LEBA – Parent Involvement; and IKB – Pocahontas County Dual Credit Policy.

• Policies GBE-B – Bus Policy and JBB – Entrance Age.

• Mary Louise Good, a resident of Pocahontas County, to enroll her granddaughter in Greenbrier County Schools, effective for the 2015-2016 school year.

• Meeting schedule for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.

In personnel management, the board approved the following:

• Abolishment of position teacher of health/physical education/social studies at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Creation of position teacher of multi-subjects – grades Kindergarten through sixth/social studies – grades sixth through eighth, at Green Bank Elementary-Middle 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 Katherine LaFleur from teacher of Title I at Marlinton Elementary School, to teacher of Title I at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective August 11 for the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 200 days.

• Requested transfer of Kimberly N. Shinaberry from teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School to teacher of multi-subjects at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective August 11 for the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 200 days.

• Abolishment of position half-time custodian III at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective for the 2015-2016 school year.

• Employment of Sherri Howe as cafeteria manager of the Summer Feeding Program, at Marlinton Elementary School, effective June 22 through July 24, except July 3, six hours per day, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., at regular hourly rate of pay based on state minimum.

• Resignation of Cathy A. Mitchell, due to retirement, as teacher of health/physical education at Marlinton Middle School, effective August 10.

• Resignation of Robert B. Miller as principal, coordinator of School-to-Work Program, vocational education director, distance learning facilitator and alternative education coordinator at Pocahontas County High School, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Abolishment of position principal, coordinator of School-to-Work Program, vocational education director, distance learning facilitator and alternative education coordinator at Pocahontas County High School, effective at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

• Creation of position principal, coordinator of School-to-Work Program, vocational education director, distance learning facilitator and alternative education coordinator at Pocahontas County High School, at state basic salary based on degree and experience plus equity including state minimum salary increment schedule, plus $6,000 supplement. Term of employment is 240 days, effective for the 2015-216 school year.

• Resignation of William Lake Vaughan, due to retirement, as school bus operator for Pocahontas County Schools, effective June 30.

• Creation of position itinerant general maintenance/ custodian III/truck driver/ groundsman for Pocahontas County Schools, effective for the 2015-2016 school year, at state basic pay. Term of employment is 240 days, shift 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

• Addition of supplement Terrance C. Beam, for additional duties assigned as personnel director; retroactive to the 2013 fiscal year at a supplement of $8,333, 2014 fiscal year at a supplement of $8,333 and 2015 fiscal year at a supplement of $8,334.

• Employment of Denise Elliott as orientation and mobility service provider – extended school year, at Marlinton Middle School, effective June 22 through August 14, 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m., 7.5 hours at $120 per hour, one day per week.

• Employment of Dorthie I. Shamblin as teacher – extended school year, at Marlinton Middle School, effective June 22 through August 14, 7:50 a.m. to 3 p.m., 7.5 hours, at $20 per hour, one day per week.

• Employment Jennifer Chestnut as speech pathologist – extended school year, at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective June 22 through August 14, Monday through Friday, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., at $20 per hour.

• Employment of Lucy Rittenhouse as academic interventionist at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective August 24, 2015 through May 13, 2016, at $20 per hour, three hours per day, as needed, not to exceed $8,400.

• Employment of Jean O. Srodes as academic interventionist at Marlinton Middle School, effective August 24, 2015 through May 13, 2016, at $20 per hour, three hours per day, as needed, not to exceed $8,400.

• Employment of Teresa Barb as academic interventionist at Marlinton Elementary School, effective August 24, 2015 through May 13, 2016, $20 per hour, three hours per day, as needed, not to exceed $8,400.

• Employment Linda H. VanReenen as academic interventionist at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective August 24, 2015 through May 13, 2016, at $20 per hour, three hours per day, as needed, not to exceed $8,400.

• Abolishment of position general maintenance/electrician II/plumber II for Pocahontas County Schools, effective June 30.

• Creation of position general maintenance/heating and air conditioning mechanic II/electrician I/plumber I/painter for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, effective July 1 for the 2015-2016 fiscal year. Term of employment is 261 days.

The board will have a special meeting Tuesday, June 16, at 7 p.m. at Marlinton Middle School.

The next regular meeting is Monday, June 22, at 7 p.m. at the board of education conference room.