Suzanne Stewart
Staff Writer

Pocahontas County Schools may have been out since Christmas break, but that doesn’t stop the school system from operating. The Pocahontas County Board of Education held a short meeting Monday evening and discussed several issues, including the multiple snow days that have closed schools this year.

Superintendent Terrence Beam gave a report and stated that, so far, the number of snow days will not have an effect on the last day of school.

“Due to the fact that we have accrued time of thirty minutes per day at each school, it allows us to not have to make up the first five snow days,” Beam said. “So the first five days – even though we didn’t have school – are considered school days. Today’s canceled day will be made up on March 9 which is our first OS day. We have six OS days, so after today’s absence, the next five snow days will be going off OS days.”

Beam added that the way the calendar was designed, Spring Break will not be affected by snow days. If school continues to be called off due to inclement weather, school will go later into the summer.

“Spring Break days are not being used to make up snow days based upon the information we got last year from our employees and parents in our survey,” he said. “Between sixty-five and seventy percent of the people who responded to the surveys last year did not want to use our Spring Break to make up snow days, so that’s what we said we would adhere to this year.”
The current calendar has June 8 as the last day of school, and Beam said that will remain the same unless there are more than eight more snow days.

Beam explained the process the board office goes through to make the decision for a snow day and said there are a lot of factors involved.

“The cancellation of schools are always based upon the weather service webinars we have, usually at five in the evening prior to a snow event or an ice event, or whatever,” he said. “The Weather Service usually gives us information and lets us make our own decisions, but sometimes they kind of suggest whether it’s feasible to have school or not.”

Beam also reported that, due to the inclement weather and cold temperatures, the school system has suffered many issues in the past few weeks, including frozen pipes at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, Marlinton Elementary School and the board office.

Beam recognized individuals who went above and beyond their jobs to help with the many issues: Ron Hall, Darin McKenney, Jamie Walker, Caleb Barkley, Joe Warder, J.D. Chestnut, Ruth Bland, Sherry Radcliff, Tim Wade and Roger Irvine.

In business:

• During the hear callers portion of the agenda, Brandon Nottingham, of Judy’s Fencecraft, addressed the board, asking if it ever considered logging the board property in Green Bank. Nottingham said Judy’s Fencecraft is interested in the timber and he was interested in knowing the current status of the land.

Board president Emery Grimes said the board has discussed timbering the land and asked Pocahontas County High School forestry teacher Scott Garber and his students to cruise the timber. Grimes said he would recommend to the board to put out two bids for the timber – one for the pines and one for the hardwoods.

The board was unable to make a decision on the issue because it was not on the agenda, but it did discuss returning to the issue at a later date.

Grimes thanked Nottingham for asking about the timber and taking the initiative of approaching the board.

In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:

• To place policy JBB – Entrance Age on 30-day comment.

• Locally Approved CTE concentrations in performing arts and visual arts.

In professional management, the board approved the following:

• Employment of Virginia Shaw as reading interventionist at Marlinton Elementary School, effective January 10 through the end of the 2017-2018 school year, at $20 per hour, three hours per day, four days per week, up to 18 weeks, not to exceed $5,000. Position to be paid from Marlinton Elementary Title I funds.

• Unpaid medical leave of Jessica Hays McNabb, effective January 18, or upon exhaustion of personal leave, for a period of six weeks.

• Resignation of Kimberly McComb as cook II at Pocahontas County High School, effective at the end of the day on January 5.

• Employment of Michele Fehrer, Earl D. Friel, Brittney Harris, Esther M. Kinnison and John David Moore, II, as substitute teachers for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 10, as needed, for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year, at state basic pay.

• Employment of Karen Murphy as teacher of homebound instruction for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 10 for the remainder of the 2017-2018 school year, as needed, at $20 per hour.

The next board meeting is Monday, January 22, at 6 p.m., at the board of education conference room.

Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at