Parents Express Frustration with Cutbacks in Arts and Music in Pocahontas Schools

During the delegation portion of the May 13th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, several parents of Green Bank Elementary-Middle School students complained to the Board about cutbacks to the Arts and Music programs at the elementary schools. Andrew and Jee Seymore and Paul Vosteen talked about the importance of Art and Music education, and presented a letter signed by a number of parents who are also concerned with these cutbacks. The Board offered to put them on the agenda for next week’s Board Meeting to discuss this further with them. However, later in the meeting during the Matters of the Board session, Board Member Justine Dilly asked School Superintendent Beam to elaborate on these cutbacks to Art and Music, since he was not aware there had been any cutbacks in those areas. Mr. Beam said he was also somewhat confused about this, since there were no budget cutbacks to those programs. He said that the perception of cutbacks could be because Mr. Sharp, the Principal at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School has made the decision to have the Art Teacher put all efforts into instructing Middle School students while having the regular Elementary Teachers teach Art to their elementary students. Beam said Principal Sharp felt that spreading Art instruction over all the grades at the Green Bank School watered it down too much, and Beam pointed out that Art is not required in the elementary schools, but is required at Middle schools.   Beam also said that Mr. Anderson, Principal at Marlinton Elementary has made a similar decision in his school – that is to have Art taught by Certified Elementary Teachers.  He pointed out that the Elementary Teaching Certification qualifies all Elementary Teachers to teach Art. Beam added that Principals are empowered to make those decisions, and he neither agrees nor disagrees with these decisions.  Beam also said there have been no changes to the Music programs at either of these Elementary Schools.

Lauren Bennett also spoke during Delegations. She was representing the Pocahontas Nature club, and their concern that the Chimney Sweep birds that have been residing in the chimneys of the old School Board building still have a home after that building is demolished, and wanted permission to build “chimneys” for them on the grounds. Again, this will need to be considered as an agenda item on the next Board Meeting.

Mr. Beam recognized the PCHS ProStart program for preparing the food for both the FFA and the Athletic Banquets. He also announced that Emmett Doolittle and Sierra Rodriguez would share the position of student Representative to the Board next school year and that the first general meeting of the Comprehensive Education Facilities Plan Committee will take place on Wednesday, May 29th at the PCHS Auditorium.

Jarod Liptrap, the current Student Representative to the Board gave his last report to the Board. He announced that PCHS Examinations are underway; that the Ag Students at PCHS have been selling plants and hay; Baseball and softball teams have finished their seasons; the senior Awards will be held Thursday, May 16th; and Graduation will be held this Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

They heard a presentation from Emily Henderson and Kynlee Wilfong, two Marlinton Middle School students representing Students Against Destructive Decisions -or SADD, about the Marijuana problems in the school and at the Wellness Center, as well as SADD’s drug prevention programs.

The Board also heard from Stephanie Burns, who provided a report about her work as the new Pocahontas School’s ELA Coach. She said she will be allowed more time to devote to this role next school year, but sees progress being made. She is concentrating her efforts in the K through 3rd grades.

In other action, the Board approved several financial matters, including: vender and Government purchasing card payments; payroll; several grants; extra duty pay for April; and the April Summary Schedule of Revenues and Expenses on a Cash Basis.

They also approved the annual Agreement to participate in the WV Department of Agriculture’s Food Distribution Program next school year, and approved the revised Attendance Zone Policy, after having only received several concerns during the public comment period about the new policy possibly doing away with the school bus stops at School Days Pre-School. According to Ruth Bland, Director of Transportation, the policy will not do that.

The Board approved a Service and Professional Personnel list. A link to that list as well as to the agenda for this meeting can be found at this link.5-13-19 BOE Actual Agenda PDF

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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