PCHS Student Walkout Continues

For the second day in a row, students at Pocahontas County High School elected to stage a walkout during school hours on Tuesday, March 26th.  The students are upset about possible cuts to STEM, vocational and Advanced Placement classes at the high school next year. According to several students on the high school student council, Pocahontas County Board of Education representative Julie Shiflett told the students during Monday’s walkout that she was very disappointed in their behavior and that the walkout was not an appropriate response.  However, students felt that they needed to make their voices heard, especially after being told they could not protest at regular Board of Education meetings.  PCHS student Ben Workman expressed what many of students were feeling.

“I’m the LSIC for the local schools improvement council for our student council,” he said. “I’m a freshman at PCHS and I’m out here today because I want to have the same chances everybody else has had in our school system.  I have a friend who’s a senior [and] my friend has got $46,000.00 paid for her college and is going to be able to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years having her first year completely paid for and over with before she even goes into college.”

That’s because the high school has offered dual-credit classes to students, allowing them to earn credits towards both high school graduation and college credits, in some cases covering up to their first full year of college.  These are some of the classes that the student fear will be cut from the curriculum, increasing the financial burden on families.

Christine Campbell, PCHS Assistant Principal, was out with the students on Monday to ensure that the assembly stayed orderly and safe for the students.  She said she neither condoned nor condemned the student gathering.

“I think the students are standing up for what they believe in, I think they are concerned about things that are being cut,” said Campbell. “I know all these things are just being proposed and who knows where it will all end up.  I do feel like they’ve tried to organize in a safe and well intended manner.”

She commended the students for their peaceful gathering and for following direction as to where they were allowed to gather. Campbell said there is no single reason for the current financial difficulties facing the Board of Education.

“I think it’s a combination of things; we have some federal dollars that have been depleted and we know the forest service money affects our county more than any other county in the state, so as that is reduced and fades away, it has a huge impact on our ability to provide what’s required.  And as we lose enrollment to virtual schools, charter schools, home schooling it affects that budget as well.”

She says the way state funding is distributed is also having an effect on school funding, particularly in rural areas.

“We’re accountable for these students and their success, but we have opened up the school choice and adding charter schools and home schooling doesn’t have the same accountability, so we’re dispersing the funding that comes from taxpayers to too many entities for rural areas to be able to manage all of them.  And we have regulations to follow that other folks who are doing education do not.”

AMR will continue to follow this as it develops.  Hearings for teachers facing possible teaching reassignment are scheduled for April 15th.

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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