Pocahontas Board of Education Gets Update On Anti-bullying Grants

Marlinton, WV – A West Virginia Dept of Education Innovation Zone grant could bring up to $300,000.00 to Pocahontas County schools over the next three years if approved. At the Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, Laura Young, Director of the county’s Family Resource Network, gave the board members an update on the progress of the grant a committee began working on about three months ago. She describes some of the criteria of the grant’s request for proposal or RFP.

“There was a requirement that you have a lot of community support,” says Young, “that’s what this grant is to do, to involve the community in dropout prevention. So we had some partners, the Family Resource Network, the Family Outreach and Education center, and the United Way; we wrote the grants and there were several components in the strategic work plan. One was to open a parent education and resource center, to take our alternative education teacher from part time to full time, and to add a full time counselor to the staff of the Board of Education.”

Young says another requirement is to hold community forums to gather input from parents and the community in general on dropout prevention. She says they have contracted with the United Way to conduct five such community meetings.

“The fifth thing is an anti-bullying campaign, and we looked at several different programs and we decided on Jodee Blanco; she does a very dynamic, comprehensive anti-bullying campaign for students and teachers,” says Young.

But Marlinton middle school teacher Chris Campbell and John Estep, a representative for the American Federation of Teachers, both cautioned Young against hiring Blanco. Both say they’ve heard disturbing reports about her disrespecting teachers and actually using a bullying attitude towards those who disagree with her methods. Campbell offered to get more information about her and report back to Young.

Young says the grant would also provide for additional staffing help.

“Also in the grant, there was the opportunity to get a Vista [volunteer]. We have the opportunity to bring in two full time Vista’s, but if we do that it’s going to require a $5000.00 match, which can come out of the Innovation Zone grants,” she says. “It just wasn’t in there when we submitted the application. So they’re not asking us to do anything other than to let you know that if we get this $300,000.00 grant and we also get two Vista positions, we’re going to then go back in and do a budget revision to pull $5000.00 out of one of these budget line items to pay for that Vista.”

Board member Tommy Vanreenan urged Young to recruit locally for the Vista positions if possible.

In other business, county school treasurer Alice Irvine told board members that changes are being made to the bus driver training program, including a much shortened training period. Currently drivers must undergo a 5 to 6 month training program; the new guidelines would shorten that to 5 to 6 weeks. She says the program will be run through the state Regional Education Service Agencies or RESA’s. Irvine says Pocahontas bus driver Jim Ryder will be one of the participants in the training program. They are hoping that the program will be paid for through the Workforce Investment program.

Superintendent CC Lester shared some information from other administration members unable to attend the meeting.

“Mr. Beam wanted to announce that Math Field Day is January the 24th, and at the next meeting he’ll be talking about next year’s Title I, Title II programs,” says Lester. “Ms. Bland, we received $95,000.00 e-rate monies just recently for Marlinton Elementary school, Hillsboro and Green Bank for wiring. And this will make Marlinton Elementary school and Hillsboro entirely wireless.”

On the personnel agenda, the following were approved at the county level:

Regisnation of Cheri Hall as Coordinator of Food Services/Student Services
Employment of Joanna Burt-Kinderman as Math consultant for grades 6-12
And employment of Lesa Allen as substitute teacher and teacher of homebound/hospitalized students for the remainder of the school year.

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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