Loss Of Safe And Secure Rural School Funding Could Have Devastating Affect On Pocahontas County Schools

Marlinton, WV – Pocahontas County teacher Shirlene Groceclose says if federal Safe and Secure Rural school money is not reauthorized, the county could lose funding for a substantial number of teaching positions as early as next year. She’s taking part in country-wide effort to urge the US Congress to reauthorize the act. She spoke about her efforts during the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting Monday night.

The Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Clinton to address steeply declining forest revenues caused by increased federal environmental regulations and land acquisition. It was reauthorized in 2008, but whether or not it will be reauthorized once again is very much in question. Groceclose has been working closely with Partnership for Rural America, a grassroots organization dedicated to getting the act reauthorized; you can find out more about them at www.partnershipforruralamerica.org. She gives the board an update on recent congressional activity.

“About one and a half weeks ago, the [US] Senate did introduce SB1692 which gives approximately $364 million dollars for five years coming down five percent each year,” she says. “No solution, just more reauthorization; no solution to the problem, but from the Senate that’s we got, and we’re getting nothing else.”

She says the US House has yet to introduce a bill, and is taking a different approach to the problem.

“The House is actually working with the [US] Forest Service to find through another bill called the concept bill’ to try to find a solution where it would involve more forest management’,” she says.

Groceclose says that could mean cutting more trees. But Board member Emery Grimes, a forester himself, says that’s not necessarily a good solution. In order to increase public awareness of the critical nature of this funding, Groceclose says they will hold a public forum on November 8th at 7pm at the Opera House in Marlinton. She also asks that others write or contact legislators in Washington and urge their support of reauthorization.

In other business, Susan Borror briefly described a survey given to students concerning the learning environment in the schools from their perspective. Students in the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 8th grades and two classes each in 9th through the 12th grades participated. She says she will compile the results and report back to the board. She also spoke about a grant they are pursuing.

“There is a $300,000.00 Innovative grant through the West Virginia Dept of Education for dropout prevention,” says Borror. “Mr. Vance, Mr. Lester, myself, Laura Young, and a parent went with us down to Flatwoods [WV] for a training meeting about this. This $300,000.00 is over a period of three years. We put together a grant writing committee, and that’s going to be myself, Ruth Bland, Laura Young and Linda Beverage.”

She says the grant application is due by December first, and they should know by early January whether or not they’ll get it. Student representative Chloe Bland shared her report with the board.

“The band placed first in competition at the Buckwheat Festival,” she says. “Project Christmas will be having a food drive November 7th through the 17th, the FBLA is selling cookbooks, wrapping paper and calendars; they are also part of an organization now that sends coupons to troops overseas so they don’t have to spend as much money. The Forestry team which consists of Drew Caloccia, Steven Casto, Spencer Carr and Joseph Sheets placed 7th in national competition; they received three golds and a silver.”

Bland says the annual FFA fruit sale has begun and orders can be placed with any FFA member.

Cheri Hall gave the board an update on the local foods promotion in the schools and asked the board for permission to work more closely with local foods Americorps worker Adrienne Juergens and with the school cooks. The board gave it’s tentative okay pending approval by Lester. Hall says a local farmer from the Lobelia area will be doing presentations in the schools on where local foods come from.

Ruth Bland gave the board an update on technology issues. She says a digitized inventory of school equipment will be begin in late November; she estimates it will take about a year to complete the project. She says she and someone from the state Dept of Education will be meeting with folks at Green Bank and the high school to talk about the Tools for Schools allotment. She says it’s an increase in infrastructure and computer supplies for both schools.

The board also approved submitting a Needs Project for the Hillsboro Elementary school cafeteria to the state School Building Authority for a comprehensive project costing approximately 1.4 million dollars. The county school’s share would be $100,000.00 according to the estimate from architectural firm Williamson Shriver.

Personnel Agenda

Green Bank Elementary-Middle:
Employment of the following as teachers for the after school program: Marsha Beverage, Susan Herold, Anne Smith, Julie Brown and Cheryl Nelson

Hillsboro Elementary:
Employment of the following as teachers for the after school program: Shannon Alderman, Kelli Hickson and Virginia Calhoun

Marlinton Elementary:
Employment of the following as teachers for the after school program: Jessica Dean, Jamey Weber and Diane Delfino

Marlinton Middle:
Resignation of Lauren Brooke Dickenson as head basketball coach (girls)

Employment of the following as teachers for the after school program: Denise Sharp and Cynthia Shreve

Pocahontas County HS:
Employment of the following as teachers for the after school program: Mary Burns, Teresa Rhea, Kathryn White, Mali Minter and Christopher Sutton

Employment of Jennifer McCarty as half-time itinerant teacher of special education/autism (grades 5-adult) assignment Marlinton Middle

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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