BOE rescinds action, fifth grade to stay put
After another heated discussion at Monday night’s meeting, the Pocahontas County board of education rescinded the decision to move the fifth grade class from Marlinton Middle School to Marlinton Elementary School.
The board had approved the move, with a 3-2 vote, at the February 11 board meeting.
The board revisited the decision Monday night due to more concerns about the expediency of the decision. Board member Hannah Sizemore said she is still worried about the short amount of time the board gave itself to make the move.
Sizemore asked the board to amend the vote to include that the move would go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year.
“I see a lot of advantages to bringing this in the following school year, particularly that all the staff at the middle school says, ‘just give us a year to try to work this out so we can all teach in the areas that we feel we can provide the best instruction.’ I feel if we push the date out, we have an extended time for a standing committee to work on schedules and to think about it,” Sizemore said.
Board member Jan McNeel shared a pros and cons list she made about the move and, said she believes the fifth grade belongs at the elementary level and voiced her concern for the male students specifically because of discipline issues and test scores.
Several teachers, parents and Pocahontas County American Federation of Teachers (AFT) representative John Estep added their opinions on the timeline of the move.
“My personal feelings, I believe the fifth grade belongs in the elementary school, without question,” Estep said. “I have members sitting here that disagree with me. I have members that agree with me. So as an organization we have been silent because we work for you and we will do whatever you tell us to do. That is our job. Our job is to be the best we can be for our students."
Estep added that the consensus he has garnered from the teachers is that they want a clear plan laid out for the move.
“What these teachers are asking you to do is to do the same thing teachers do for the kids,” he said. “Let’s make a plan to get to where we want to be before we jump off the cliff. All we want is a solid plan and we don’t have one. You can’t make it on a run, not in six weeks, not effectively.”
After the nearly two hour conversation over the issue, pitting board members against each other, the board voted on the issue again.
The board voted, 3-2, to rescind the approval to reconfigure Marlinton Middle School to grades 6-8, Marlinton Elementary School to grades PreK-5 and Hillsboro Elementary School to PreK-5.
The board approved, 3-2, the amendment Sizemore added to the reconfiguration motion.
Next, the board voted, 2-3, on the reconfiguration plan. Because the majority of the board voted against the motion, the decision to move the fifth grade failed, due to the board rescinding the prior action.
• The board thanked Assistant Superintendent and Treasurer Alice Irvine for her service to the board in all capacities from teacher to her current position. The meeting was Irvine’s last before her retirement.
Irvine thanked the board for making her job enjoyable. She began her career with the school system in 1970.
• Superintendent C.C. Lester recognized the Lady Warriors basketball team for winning the Sectional Championship. Lester reported that several applicants were interviewed for the board treasurer position, left vacant by Alice Irvine, due to retirement.
He also reported that the School Building Authority approved to hear the board’s project for air conditioning in all the schools. The hearing will be March 12 before the SBA in Charleston.
• Student representative Cassidy Rao reported that the school celebrated FFA Week with dress-up days and a teacher and staff appreciation day. She added that the spring sports of baseball, softball and track began their seasons Monday.
Rao also said the Family Resource Network and Rotary Interact is hosting a Girls Day Out, a fun afternoon of hair and makeup demonstrations, and an opportunity to win a free prom dress.
• Maintenance supervisor Darin McKenney reported that all the schools were checked for air quality issues. He said issues at Marlinton Elementary School concerning a couple spots of mold were addressed and added that none of the schools have fresh air intake systems. He said he is looking into getting upgrades at the schools to include fresh air intakes in the current HVAC systems.
• Pocahontas County Honor Corps member Harlan Whiting informed the board he was approached by several teachers who asked if the honor corps would allow students to assist with placing American flags on graves for Memorial Day.
The board agreed there wasn’t a problem with having the students participate and said it would be up to the discretion of each principal to approve the program as a field trip.
• Spanish teacher Shirlene Groseclose reported that the Safe and Secure Rural Schools allocation for the county was approved for one more year. She said the Partnership for Rural America Campaign is working on a more permanent solution for the funding, which is based on the amount of National Forest in the county. Assistant superintendent and treasurer Alice Irvine said the board received $420,000, which is less than what it received last year.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Steve Tritapoe and Jessica Hays as assistant softball coaches at Pocahontas County High School for the 2012-2013 season.
• Revisions of Policy GBRIA-A – Personal Leave Policy.
• Permission for Garage Door Operators, Inc. to replace both garage doors at the Pocahontas County bus garage at a cost of $8,387.72.
• Permission to purchase a scrubber for Green Bank Elementary-Middle School from R.D. Wilson and Sons Company at a cost of $5,700.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Requested transfer of Lisa R. Burns from teacher of language arts at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to teacher of English/language arts/reading at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2013-2014 school year, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience, plus equity. Term of employment is 200 days.
• Resignation of Jessica Hays as teacher of physical education/health and assistant girls basketball coach at Pocahontas County High School, effective June 30.
• Employment of Tabeatha McCoy as athletic seasonal coordinator for baseball at Pocahontas County High School, effective for the 2012-2013 season at a supplement of $500.
• Appointment of Terrence C. Beam as interim treasurer, effective March 1, until such time the position of treasurer is filled by the Pocahontas County board of education.
• Resignation of Brenda Williams as substitute secretary for Pocahontas County Schools, retroactive to February 11.
The next board meeting is Monday, March 4, at 7 p.m. in the board of education conference room.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org