Concerns over Art Programs Expressed Again at Pocahontas BOE Meeting
At the May 20th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, Hanna Sizemore, Jee Seymour and Andrew Seymour, discussed with the Board Members their concerns that next year the elementary school students in the county were going to have the quality of their art educations reduced. Hanna Sizemore said her understanding of the situation is that the professional Art teachers are being replaced in the elementary art classes at both Green Bank Elementary-Middle School and at Marlinton Elementary School by regular Elementary Teachers who will teach them Art. The professional art teachers will concentrate their art instruction in the middle schools. She believes these changes are due to both the need to provide more art education for middle school students and because of budget shortages which prevent the hiring of full-time art teachers. School Superintendent Beam, for the most part, concurred with Sizemore’s assessment of the situation, but added that next year’s budget which, by the way, has already passed, was only able to avoid layoffs of critically needed teachers by not filling positions that became vacant because of retirements. Beam added that there just is no reserve or contingency money available for expanding the art teachers’ hours from part-time to full-time in order to keep them in the elementary classrooms. But Beam said that all Certified Elementary Education Teachers are certified by the State to teach art. Board President Joe Walker suggested that parents concerned about this could either raise money specifically for elementary art programs or try to find and apply for grants to hire more Art Teachers.
Sizemore and the Seymours presented the Board with a petition signed by people who are concerned with this reduction of art education in the elementary schools. The petition had about 200 signatures of people living in Pocahontas County, and lots of other signatures from people living in other parts of West Virginia; other states; and even from a number of people living in Korea and other countries.
Kristy Tritapoe, the Athletic Director at PCHS talked to the Board about the purchase of the new scoreboard for the football field at PCHS which will also be used by the Soccer team and by the middle school football team. She said that between the $5000.00 donation for this by the County Commission, and money from the athletic budgets of the teams using the field, the scoreboard can be paid for without additional funds from the Board of Education. Tritapoe also talked about the revisions to the athletic policy which will be approved at the June 3rd Board meeting. She said the changes to this policy include adding references to Cross-Country and golf, and allows Cheerleaders who leave the squad after the fall seasons in order to play other winter sports to still earn their letter in Cheerleading.
Laura Young also updated the Board on the current status of pending grant applications, including the 21st Century Grant application for after school programs, which, if approved, will require a much higher percentage of after school program participation then we have seen in Pocahontas County in the past.
School Superintendent Terrence Beam said the last day of school for students this year will be on Wednesday, May 22nd. He also said the first full CEFP Committee meeting will be held at the PCHS Auditorium on Wednesday, May 29th at 6:00 p.m. In addition, Beam congratulated the PCHS Track Team’s performance at the State Track Meet in Charleston, and offered recognition to Darin McKenney for coming in early last Sunday and fixing the air conditioning to ensure it worked during graduation later that day.
In other actions, the Board approved the 2019-2020 Board Meeting Schedule, which will move Board meetings to every third Tuesday instead of on random Mondays.
They approved the annual agreement with the County Parks and Recreation for their continued use of the Wellness Center facility which is owned by the Board of Education.
The Board agreed to allow the construction of a “Chimney Swift Tower” on Board property in the wood line near Knapp’s Creek.
They passed a personnel agenda after a short Executive Session discussion.
During the Matters of the Board part of the meeting, Becky Campbell talked about the workforce summer camps, Justin Dilley congratulated the National Honor Society for landscaping the area in front of PCHS. Sue Hollandsworth said the 8th grade Awards Banquet was “well done” and Board President Joe Walker talked about fixing the situation with the bad drainage at the Bus Garage,