MMS staff makes plea to keep fifth grade
A large representation of Marlinton Middle School’s staff crowded into the board of education meeting Monday night to band together for the sake of the fifth grade.
Superintendent C.C. Lester said he and the board office staff have discussed the possibility of moving the fifth grade from Marlinton Middle School back to Marlinton and Hillsboro elementary schools.
“Based on more than four years of research, students in sixth, seventh and eighth have more in common in terms of physical, psychological, social and intellectual development than those in other grade configurations,” Lester said. “We just feel that it is a better social move for the students.”
Lester said that if the fifth grade is moved, he does not anticipate any personnel changes or any teachers being moved with that grade level.
The MMS staff in attendance were in agreement that the students gain a lot from attending the middle school and they feel it would be detrimental to the education of the students to move them.
Principal Joe Riley said that he has seven teachers who work directly with the students, in subjects which include art, music and foreign language.
Faculty Senate president Stephanie Burns said the staff is concerned the students will no longer be able to have special programs – like the arts – if they are moved to the elementary school.
“Are their services going to be cut, such as band?” she asked. “Are they still going to get the same opportunities? Phys Ed is a big concern. As a parent, that is a concern. As a teacher, that is a concern. Physical activity in our schools is very important.”
Burns said other concerns include moving the students back into the floodplain and the possibility of overcrowding at MES.
“We’re just hoping that this decision is not made lightly because if life was that simple – to be able to move children from one spot to the other and not disrupt their education, – that would be really easy,” Burns said. “I’m afraid that there are going to be so many snowballs spinning off from this.”
Fifth grade teacher Janet Warner said she has been with the fifth grade since it moved from MES and has seen the students flourish at the middle school.
“They love having band with Mr. [Rick] McLaughlin in the big band room with the instruments,” she said. “They love the beautiful art projects they do with Margaret Baker. They love Spanish with Mrs. [Shirlene] Groseclose. If you walk through the halls of Marlinton Middle School you would see that my fifth graders are the happiest kids in that building. They are so happy to be there. That spark to want to be in school and to learn is back and if I thought in my heart of hearts that leaving those children in this building that they would gain more than they would be losing, I would pack up and move with them, but I just don’t think that’s true.”
The board said it is not taking the issue lightly and will consider all options before making a decision. The board scheduled a community forum for parents and teachers to further discuss the issue further on Wednesday, January 23, at 7 p.m., in the commons area at MMS.
In other updates:
• Snowshoe Foundation’s Stephanie Dilley presented several grant checks to the schools. She said of the $48,000 granted to Pocahontas County, $21,000 went to the schools. Green Bank Elementary-Middle School received $2,000; Marlinton Middle School received $4,600; Marlinton Elementary School received $6,000; Pocahontas County High School received $4,276; Hillsboro Elementary School received $3,000; and the Preschool cooperative received $2,500.
Dilley also reported that the Higher Education Scholarship is available and the deadline for applications is March 29.
• Lester recognized PCHS senior Clayton Irvine who received a $1,000 award from the State Journal. Irvine applied for the Student of Excellence scholarship awarded by the Journal but, because he is not in the environmental or engineering field, he was not eligible for the scholarship. Instead, he received the $1,000 award for an essay he wrote about his teachers and the education he received in Pocahontas County.
Irvine said his essay is included in the State Journal’s magazine and he was interviewed by a TV station.
Lester also reported that State Superintendent Dr. James Phares will be attending the next board meeting January 28 to discuss the future of education in West Virginia.
• Director of Federal Programs and Instruction Terrence Beam shared the Title I and Title III state audit with the board. He said there are two major areas that need work and he and his staff are focused on correcting those areas.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
• The board rescinded the action to transfer the Innovation Zone Grant to the Family Resource Network. Lester said the grant is required to go through the board of education.
• Bank Reconciliation for November and December; Revenue and Expenditures Summary for November and December and Projects Summary.
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $17,927.
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $144,867.66.
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $186,969.89.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Use of $500 from the Julia Price fund for supplies for a special education classroom at Marlinton Middle School.
• Travel requests for January 14.
• Abolishment of 71 board policies. Some of the policies will be included in the procedures manual.
• For the eighth grade classes from Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to be transported by charter bus to Virginia Beach, Virginia for an educational field trip May 21-24.
• For the fourth grade class from Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to be transported by charter bus to Washington, D.C. for an education field trip May 28-31.
• Lease Agreement between Pocahontas County Board of Education and Pocahontas County Free Libraries.
• Termination of contract with Erin Lash to provide speed/language pathology and other evaluation services to students enrolled in Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to November 7.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Resignation of Sara H. McClintic as principal at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective January 22.
• Employment of Richard I. Hartzell as assistant girls basketball coach at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2012-2013 season, at a sate minimum salary.
• Employment of Sandra K. Perdue as custodian III at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective January 16 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Term of employment is 99 days. Shift: 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
• Resignation of Valerie H. Lambert as half-time custodian III at Hillsboro Elementary School, effective January 14.
• Resignation of Martha Susan Arbogast, due to retirement, as teacher of multi-subjects at Marlinton Elementary School, effective at the end of the 2012-2013 school year.
• Resignation of Phillip Anderson as baseball coordinator at Pocahontas County High School for the 2012-2013 season.
• Employment of Kathryn T. Kolonay as after-school instructor at Pocahontas County High School, effective January 14 until May 24, as needed for one-and-a-half hours per day, two days per week, at $20 per hour.
• Purchase of planning time by Morton Taber, II, 90 minute planning time at Pocahontas County High School, effective August 20, 2012 through the end of the 2012-2013 school year, as needed, as alternative education/GED option/credit recovery teacher, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience.
• Employment of Justin A. Taylor as substitute mechanic for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 16, as needed, for the remainder of the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
• Employment of Sherry L. Radcliff as option IV substitute teacher, effective January 16, as needed, for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year.
• Employment of Denise Elliott to provide orientation and mobility services for a Marlinton Middle School student, compensatory time of 33 hours, not to exceed $3,960 and three hours per week at $120 per hour beginning November 15, 2012 through May 24.
• Resignation of Jeanne M. Hanna as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 14.
• Employment of Michelle D. Jeffers as substitute teacher and principal, for Pocahontas County Schools, effective January 15, as needed, for the remainder of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, at state minimum salary.
The next board of education meeting will be Monday, January 28, at 7 p.m., at Pocahontas County High School.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at email@example.com