Fifth grade class relocating from MMS to MES

At the well-attended Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night, parents and school staff addressed board members regarding the issue of relocating the fifth grade class from Marlinton Middle School to Marlinton Elementary School.

Stephanie Burns, recently recognized as Pocahontas County teacher of the year, addressed the board.

“We’ve been through this process for over a year,” tells board members. “And I’ve heard a few different reasons why you’re wanting to move fifth grade to the elementary school. So, right now I wanted to cover and address the most recent reasons why. One thing was technical. They wanted to free up classroom space at the middle school to provide technical classes at the middle school level, which is absolutely wonderful, but I also don’t feel that that’s going to be happening in the near future.”

Burns talked about how technical classes at the high school need to be expanded. She said she had the privilege of attending the SkillsUSA competition recently in Charleston and spoke to the unparalleled talent of the students at PCHS.

“We had students that medaled,” says Burns. “We were able to compete in five categories and one of those categories we weren’t even completely trained in.”

She said the categories included carpentry, plumbing, electricity, and masonry.

“And we do not have a masonry class, we do not have a plumbing class, but they still medaled in that competition.”

Burns said the bigger concern would be filling those gaps in the vocational program at PCHS, and referred to a Harvard study when it came to relocating the fifth grade class.

“We heard that the trend is fifth grade should be at the elementary school. Over half of the 157 middle schools in West Virginia are in a configuration other than 6-8. Actually the research is now showing us, it’s not 6-8, it is not 5-8, its K-8 schools. If we’re going to do anything, we need to be pursing how to put our K-8 back together, maybe moving our elementary out of the flood plain.”

Burns said as a teacher and a as a parent, she was concerned. Other parents and school staff expressed their opinions. Some of the issues brought to the board’s attention were the existing traffic problems at Marlinton Elementary, the math curriculum, how programs like band and art would be affected, and even air quality.

Board president Emery Grimes said some folks would be surprised to know that after state testing, Marlinton Elementary had the best air quality among the five county schools.
In the end, board members voted 3-2 in favor of relocating the fifth grade class.

Plenty of other business was addressed during the course of the meeting. The board approved the new 180-day school calendar for next year to comply with a new state law, and received a report from the newly formed IT committee that’s been looking into improving computer and Internet access in Pocahontas County schools, but AMR will have more on that later this week.

Story By

Angelo Jiordano

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