Marlinton Parent Concerned About Her Child’s Progress

Marlinton, WV – Stephanie Burns is concerned about the lack of progress her daughter is making in the Marlinton Elementary school second grade class. She spoke to the Pocahontas County Board of Education about the issue Monday night, asking the Board to consider hiring another second grade teacher.

“My youngest child is in second grade; she has the same teachers my other two have had, so I know it’s not a teacher concern,” she says. “When I started a couple of weeks after school noticing that my daughter didn’t seem like she was being challenged, she wasn’t where she should be with her reading level; I went and talked to the teacher, and she said I wasn’t the first, that there were several there.”

Burns, a teacher at Marlinton Middle School, says she knows the importance for a child to develop good reading habits and other skills in the early grades. Her daughter’s class currently has 22 students; the other second grade class has 23. She says those numbers may have a negative impact on the learning environment.

“Sometimes we function well in large class sizes, sometimes they’re a struggle,” says Burns. “Basically I think what has happened this year, is the dynamics of the classroom. It’s the same group of children, but there is definitely a difference this year.”

“I don’t know whether the gap of where they are learning has widened or what is going on.”

She’s also frustrated because there 45 students in the two second grade classrooms, but only 39 students in three third grade classrooms at Marlinton Elementary.

“I questioned about that and I was told that there were specifics and details that could not be shared with me,” says Burns, “and I understand that. My concern is not only for my daughter, but for the rest of second grade because I know how important a good foundation is, especially at your lower levels because we end up seeing it as a teacher later on in middle school.”

Burns says she understands there are monetary concerns, not the least of which is whether or not Safe and Secure Rural schools funding will be reauthorized. School Superintendent CC Lester told Burns he will speak to Marlinton Elementary Principal Ron Hall about the situation. Leslie Cain, Vice-President of the Board asked Lester to update them as well at their next meeting.

In other business, Mary Dilley asked the Board to consider equal pay for service and professional personnel when serving on committees that benefit all school system staff such as health and wellness. She says currently, professional staff is paid $20.00 per hour for their time, while service staff is only paid $12.00 per hour. Lester says this may be a carryover from training classes taken by professional and service staff this past summer when the different pay schedules were set.

A couple of Board members admit to struggling with this issue. But Dilley says unless the topic being discussed requires specific professional skills, all those serving should get equal pay for equal work.

The Board declined to even consider an enormous list of chaperones for all five county schools. Board members Emery Grimes and Leslie Cain were united in their feelings about the lists presented, and are concerned that some on the list may have a criminal record.

“I would like to make a motion that we put this back on the Principals because we don’t know the people here, and they ought to know the people,” says Grimes.

“We had this discussion last year,” says Cain, “and we are pulling this from the [meeting] agenda. The Principals can be in charge of figuring out their staff; I would suggest they look at their criminal record before they put them on the agenda.”

On the personnel agenda, the Board approved the employment of Rebekah Connor as a teacher of alternative education at Pocahontas County HS for the remainder of the school year. Also at PCHS, they abolished the position of teacher of science/health and created a position of teacher of health/physical education. A leave of absence for Shannon Anderson was tabled until Superintendent Lester can get additional information.

The next meeting of the board is Monday, October 17th at 7pm at Hillsboro Elementary School.

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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