BOE discusses Dropout Prevention Grant
Family Resource Network director Laura Young presented the board of education with copies of the Dropout Prevention grant application at its meeting Monday night.
This is the second time Pocahontas County will apply for the grant which is provided by the Education Alliance.
Young said the grant – a $100,000 a year for three years award – will be used to fund programs that will assist in increasing the graduation rate and decreasing the truancy rate.
“We currently have an 82 percent graduation rate and we want to increase that by two percent every year for three years,” Young said. “We also have a pretty high truancy rate and we’re looking at PCHS students with five or more absences. The statistic for that is 21 percent. We also have five percent of those students at 12 or more absences a year.”
Young said truancy is a pre-indicator for delinquency and several other problems. She said the plan is to decrease truancy rates by two percent a year for three years.
The grant, if received, will be divided into several sections to use services from various organizations to assist students.
“The BOE will receive money to hire a half-time social worker,” Young said. “This can be someone from either Seneca Health Services or someone that you have on staff. This person will conduct home visits and help develop individual graduation plans. They will target seventh and eighth graders, as well as at-risk high school students that have been identified from last year’s performance.”
Also included is a contract with the Family Resource Network to have Innovative Community Education Learning Opportunities.
“This is to try to get the kids out of the high school and the middle school into the community to find out what’s out there that they can get involved in,” Young said. “We may have kids that struggle academically but they may have a great interest in woodworking, so we want to give them the opportunity to explore that.”
The grant will also provide funds to McClintic Public Library and Hillsboro Community Library for library services to the schools; two half-time VISTAs who will set up an early warning signs list; a 26-week “Walk the Talk” mentoring program with 56 at-risk students; community forums provided by the United Way in Greenbrier Valley; advisor/advisee training; and $600 per school to expand the Rachel’s Challenge program.
Young said she is also looking for members of the community to act as mentors for the students.
“When we are pretty sure a kid is going to drop out of school, we’re going to set them up with a life mentor, somebody that can come in and coach them or call them,” she said. “We would also like to have a larger group of stakeholders that are business people, community members that care about our kids. We can call them from time to time to bring services to the students.”
The grant application was due into the Education Alliance August 31.
The board thanked Young for her presentation and the hard work she put into the application.
Food Services Coordinator Lisa Dennison gave a report on the new menu and school foods program Smart Foods = Smarter Kids.
“It’s not that we’re just making a menu change, it’s about the overall health of our nation,” she said. “Basically, what that is talking about is increasing breakfast participation, increasing lunch participation. [We’re] trying to make sure that these kids are eating healthy meals."
The Food Services Department has made great strides in the right direction and continues to make sure lunches are more nutritious and fulfilling.
“The Office of School Nutrition and the county account for one-third of the students’ daily needs and calories,” Dennison said. “We’re trying to get away from prepackaged food, and are actually cooking. There is a lot that goes into planning this menu. There’s a cap of how many calories we can serve.”
Dennison said she is proud of “her” cooks because they have been behind her 100 percent in the menu changes and have been working extra hard to make the meals better for the students.
With the lunch menu, students are required to take at least three items before they are allowed to sit and eat. The meal consists of at least one fruit, one vegetable, a meat or meat substitute and a grain.
Dennison said she is happy the children are only charged $1 for such a hefty meal.
“Even if they just had the salad and the fruits and vegetables, it’s worth it,” she said. “I can’t pack a lunch for my granddaughter [at that price].”
Board members asked Dennison if Pocahontas County High School is still offering snacks for athletes who stay after school. She said she was unaware if the program continued to this year, but she will check into it.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $7,158.10.
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $68,748.56.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Payment of $14,139 to Creative Builders for storm damage repairs and restroom renovations made to Hillsboro Elementary School.
• Purchase of a 77-passenger bus from Heritage Bus Sales at a cost of $89,850.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Requested transfer of Sherrie L. Howe from custodian II at Marlinton Middle School, to cook II at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective August 30 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year. Term of employment is 189 days.
• Requested transfer of Tina M. Sharp from itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide/paraprofessional at Marlinton Middle School, to supervisory classroom aide/bus aide/paraprofessional at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective August 30 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year. Term of employment is 189 days.
• Resignation of Ellen Fortney as librarian/media specialist, half-time at Marlinton Middle School, and substitute teacher effective for the 2012-2013 school year.
• Resignation of Wilbert Smith, Jr., as teacher of electricity at Pocahontas County High School, retroactive to August 15.
• Requested transfer of Darlene Arobgast from teacher of multi-subject at Hillsboro Elementary School to itinerant teacher of special education (LD, MI, BD)/Autism at Pocahontas County High School effective for the 2012-2013 school year.
• Employment of Patricia Juergens as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective August 15 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year, as needed.
• Employment from preferred recall list of Janet L. Cole as itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aide for Pocahontas County High School, at state minimum salary, effective August 30 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year.
• Creation of position itinerant special education classroom aide/bus aid for Marlinton Middle School, at state minimum salary, effective September 26 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year.
• Employment of Cammie J. Wade as substitute aide for Pocahontas County Schools, effective August 30 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year, as needed.
The next board meeting will be Monday, September 10, at 7 p.m. in the board of education conference room.