MES fights to keep second grade teacher
Marlinton Elementary School teachers and principal Ron Hall made a plea to the board of education to reconsider abolishing a second grade teacher's position and placing her in another classroom at Monday's meeting.
Second grade teacher Barbara Beard, the teacher in question, addressed the board with her concerns of changing the three second grades into two for the 2010-2011 school year.
"I am here tonight to speak to you about my name being on the personnel agenda for consent to change and to speak about the following item on the agenda to cut a second grade teacher at Marlinton Elementary School," she said, reading from a prepared statement. "Since it was not a RIF or transfer situation, I was not afforded the opportunity to have a hearing to discuss this situation with you."
Beard explained that Superintendent Dr. J. Patrick Law visited the three second grade teachers at MES in early December to discuss removing a class. She said Law told her she would stay in the second grade and would only move to another grade level if it reached the maximum number of students allowed in a classroom.
Law presented Beard with a mutual agreement of reassignment form, which stated the change, if needed, could be made by September 10, 2010, at least three weeks into the new school year.
After signing the agreement, Beard examined the letter more and realized it did not say what she expected it would.
"It does not say anything about staying in second grade or being moved if a class goes over maximum number," she said. "As you can see, it begins with the sentence, 'the total number of classroom teaching positions at Marlinton Elementary School is projected to be reduced effective for the 2010-2011 school year.' I was baffled. Dr. Law had not spoken to me about cutting a teacher. What did this have to do with me?"
Beard said she is not upset with the possibility of teaching a different grade level, but more concerned about changing the classes after the school year starts. She added that too many what ifs are left hanging in the air until a definitive decision is made.
"It just opens a big can of worms," she said. "I believe it's a back-handed way to cut Marlinton Elementary School another teacher. We have the largest student/teacher ratio in the county. If we're to cut one more teacher, it will be even larger, well above the 1:21 teacher/student ratio we currently have."
In support of Beard and the school, Title I Reading Specialist Michele Fehrer shared the Dibbles test scores for MES.
"I do want to say, as you know at Marlinton Elementary, three out of four students are on free or reduced lunch," Fehrer said. "A lot of that means the parents are working hard, above and beyond the call of duty and some don't have the academic background to help our children at home, past a certain point in school. I think it's important to remember.
"At the middle of the year, in kindergarten, we have 45 percent of children still at risk in developing. In first grade, there's 42 percent, third grade, 43 percent, fourth grade, we have 48 percent," she continued. "These are big numbers, folks. Second grade, there's only 27 percent. It's the least amount of needy children because we have three excellent teachers at that level."
Fehrer said all the teachers are excellent, but she believes second grade is succeeding because of the lower student/teacher ratio that is afforded by having three teachers. She added that instead of removing teachers, the board needs to find ways to add teachers to MES.
"This reminds me of a game of musical chairs and we're pulling out one of the chairs from these children who are expecting to get a substantial education and I think that we're setting them up for failure as opposed to setting them up for success and that's our job, to have every child succeed."
Hall added that he is facing population issues in each class and could soon go over the state board of education's limit of 25 students to a classroom. He informed the board that his numbers are as follows: 23 students in each kindergarten class, 22 in each first grade, 14 in each second grade, 24 in each third grade and 22 in each fourth grade.
"It seems like the kids are sitting on top of each other in these classes because they aren't really that large of classes and with the demands of the curriculum, our rooms are full of all the materials that we need," Hall said. "We're getting ready to put smartboards and everything else in there with them and it's just like, what is the cut off? I know the state says 25, but what's the cut off before it becomes unfair?"
Hall said the test scores are proof that classroom sizes are hindering the students education.
"We're held to such standards by the tests," he said. "They don't look at anything but the WESTEST. When push comes to shove, the state looks at the WESTEST and here we are, we're trying to hang on as best we can and meet AYP and show gains. If we don't, they come in and slam us because we're not doing what's right. It's just, what can you do with a two by four? You cannot build a house with a two by four. You just can't, I don't care how good a carpenter you are."
With all the information in front of them, the board asked Hall to guide their decision. President Kenneth Vance asked if he would like to keep Beard in the second grade or if he felt he could utilize her in a different grade.
"That's a tough one, but I have to [keep her in second grade] because I know that first grade bunch, in the past two years, have had in the couple hundreds of BIFs," he answered. "I'm in between a rock and a hard place because I want these kids to succeed and in order for them to succeed, I'm going to have to get to them in the lower classes."
Struggling with his decision, Hall weighed the options and said the best move at this time is to keep Beard in the second grade.
After the discussion, the board voted against both agenda items, leaving Beard in the second grade.
In other updates:
ﾕ The Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation Board received funding for the Pocahontas County Multi-Purpose Community Center. The project began in 2006 when the board entered into a partnership with parks and rec to build the center at Marlinton Elementary School. Parks and rec representatives Roger Trusler and Lauren Bennett asked the board to renew the contract in order for the project to begin. The board agreed to have the contract on the next agenda and added they are excited about the addition to the school and community.
ﾕ Assistant Superintendent and Treasurer Alice Irvine reported that the board office had minimal water damage after the flood Monday, January 25. She thanked all the volunteers from the community and MES who helped clean the office.
Irvine also presented a request for a contract from the Church of God to lease a portion of the boardﾒs land behind their facility. After legal counsel reviewed the contract, Irvine said they suggested selling or trading the parcel to the church instead of having an ongoing lease agreement. Board members agreed and asked Irvine to contact the church with their decision.
ﾕ Diane Delfino informed the board that the schools are preparing for the WESTEST online writing assessment. Dates for the test are: for middle schools, March 15-26; high school, March 22-April 1; and elementary schools, April 12-23.
Delfino added that changes have been made to Policy 2419, Regulations for the Education of Students with Exceptionalities. Once the state board of education finalizes the booklets for instruction, she will present them to the board for approval.
ﾕ Student Representative Cody Perkins said Pocahontas County High School is making a new Warriors Above the Influence poster. He said the opportunity to appear in the poster is open to all students.
Perkins told the board his possible last board meeting as representative possibly will be February 8. Any junior at PCHS may apply to be the new student representative.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
ﾕ Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $9,878.24.
ﾕ Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $98,695.88.
ﾕ Financial items: Treasurerﾒs report, revenue and expenditures summary, budget supplements, budget transfer and projects summary.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
ﾕJulie E. Brown for 200 days as teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
ﾕ Jessica H. Dean for 200 days as teacher at Marlinton Elementary School.
ﾕ Shannon C. Anderson for 200 days as itinerant teacher of special education for Pocahontas County schools, assignment to be made at a later date.
ﾕ Margaret L. Baker for 200 one-half days as teacher at Marlinton Middle School.
ﾕ Susan A. Borror for 200 one-half days as court liaison/attendance officer for Pocahontas County schools, assignment Pocahontas County High School.
ﾕ Joanna A. Burt-Kinderman for 200 one-half days as librarian/media specialist at Marlinton Middle School.
ﾕ Maria T. Busick for 200 days as itinerant teacher of special education for Pocahontas County schools, assignment to be made at a later date.
ﾕ Jennifer L. Chestnut for 200 days as itinerant speech/language pathologist for Pocahontas County Schools, assignment to be made at a later date.
ﾕ Danielle N. Goode for 200 days as teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
ﾕ Shirlene E. Groseclose for 200 days as teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Marlinton Middle School.
ﾕ Janesa R. Henderson for 200 days as counselor at Hillsboro Elementary School for 25 percent of her time and Marlinton Elementary School for 50 percent of her time.
ﾕ Jessica L. McLaughlin for 200 days as teacher at Marlinton Middle School.
ﾕ Beth E. Peterson for 200 days as teacher at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
ﾕ Devan E. Simmons for 200 one-half days as teacher at Hillsboro Elementary School.
ﾕ Wilbert C. Smith, Jr. for 200 days as teacher at Pocahontas County High School.
ﾕ Rebecca A. Spencer for 200 days as Title I reading specialist/teacher at Marlinton Middle School.
ﾕ Christopher M. Sutton for 200 days as teacher at Pocahontas County High School.
ﾕ Ryan W. Ullman for 200 days as teacher at Pocahontas County High School.
ﾕ Caleb J. Barkley for 220 days as custodian II at Pocahontas County High School.
ﾕ Frank L. Barrett, Jr. for 220 days as custodian II at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and Pocahontas County High School.
ﾕ Shawn W. Carr for 200 days as school bus operator for Pocahontas County schools.
ﾕ Gary M. Cutlip for 200 days as school bus operator for Pocahontas County schools.
ﾕ Warren Scott Hayes for 261 days as custodian IV/sanitation plant operator at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
ﾕ Tina L. Jackson for 220 days as custodian II at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
ﾕ Sabrina J. Jordan for 220 one-half days as custodian II at Hillsboro Elementary School.
ﾕ Danial P. Lewis for 200 days as school bus operator for Pocahontas County schools.
ﾕ Charles A. Wilfong for 261 days as supervisor of maintenance, asbestos management, electrician II, general maintenance, heating and air conditioning mechanic II, painter and plumber II for Pocahontas County schools.
ﾕ Resignation of Terrie J. Beck Baldwin as teacher at Hillsboro Elementary School, retroactive to January 19, 2010.
ﾕ Medical leave of absence of Theresa L. Weimer as teacher at Pocahontas County High School, retroactive to January 12, 2010, and extending to the end of the 2009-2010 school year with the understanding that Ms. Weimer shall not be permitted to return to her duties prior to the exhaustion of the leave of absence and with the understanding that Weimer has agreed to submit to a fitness for duty examination to be performed by a physician of the boardﾒs choosing, at its expense, and be released to her duties as a classroom teacher prior to the resumption of her duties. Should Weimer be deemed unfit to return to her duties as a result of the fitness for duty examination, the board reserves its option to review her employment status and consider the termination of her employment. Weimerﾒs FMLA leave shall run concurrently with the medical leave of absence.
ﾕ Appointment of Alice R. Irvine as treasurer for Pocahontas County schools, effective for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
ﾕ Transfer of Renee D. Hill from itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide/autism mentor/paraprofessional for Pocahontas County schools, effective for the 2010-2011 school year, due to the realignment of special education services.
ﾕ Termination of contract of Renee D. Hill as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide/autism mentor/paraprofessional for the purpose of removal of the autism mentor classification, effective for the 2010-2011 school year.
ﾕ Abolishment of position for itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide/autism mentor for Pocahontas County schools, effective for the 2010-2011 school year.
ﾕ Non-rehire of Janet L. Cole as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide for Pocahontas County schools, effective for the 2010-2011 school year, due to displacement by a more senior employee.
ﾕ Non-rehire of Susan A. Borror as McKinney-Vento Liaison, half-time, for Pocahontas County schools, effective for the 2010-2011 school year, due to limitation of grant funding.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
ﾕ Travel requests for January 25, 2010.
ﾕ Report on Innovation Application/Plan for Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.