Pocahontas Board of Education Has New Member and New President

At their July 1st meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education swore in Sam Gibson and Emery Grimes, who won election to the board during the May primary election.  Gibson was already an incumbent member so was sworn in for a new term, while Grimes was sworn in as a new member.

In addition to being seated on the board at that meeting, Grimes was also elected by the members as the new President of the Board of Education for the upcoming year.  Grimes has considerable past experience on the board, having previously served on the board for 11 years, 7 of which were as Board President.

Additionally, Board Member Becky Campbell was elected to be the Vice-President of the board.

Kristy Tritapoe made two lengthy presentations to the board at the meeting. The first one was about the voluntary preschool program for 3- or 4-year-old students. She said WV law requires that every school system establish a Core Preschool Team, of which she serves as the local Director.

She said one of that team’s duties is to develop the policy by which children are assigned to their preschool locations. Tritapoe explained that there are four preschool locations in the county: Green Bank School; Marlinton Elementary School; Hillsboro Elementary School; and School Days Childcare, LLC.

The Core Teams’ new location assignment policy, Director Tritapoe explained, is that parents submit their first and second choice for their child’s location. The first choice is automatically granted unless that location has the maximum 20 preschool children already assigned there, in which case the parent’s second choice of location is approved. Using this formula, so far for this coming school year, there are 19 preschool children assigned to Green Bank; 19 assigned to Marlinton Elementary, 6 assigned to School Days and 5 assigned to Hillsboro Elementary.

Jennifer Buzzard, the owner of School Days expressed her concerns about this new selection process, since last year, under the old process, she had 17 preschool students assigned at School Days. Buzzard said that with only 6 students this year, she cannot afford to hire the required certified teacher this year. Tritapoe said the school is willing advertise for a certified teacher for School Days and pay that teacher’s salary. Buzzard said she would be troubled that a teacher who does not answer to her would be working at her private school, but she can live with that. But she asked what will happen if the schools are unable to find a certified teacher to hire.  There was no good answer to that.

Tritapoe also made a very lengthy and complex presentation about the schools’ Special Education Program. She said many conventional teachers are upset that Special Ed teachers will only work in the classroom 4 days a week, spending Wednesdays doing nothing but preparation work. Tritapoe produced and passed along to the board members, a 3-inch-thick binder showing all the federal and state reports and other paperwork that each Special Education Teacher must complete and submit weekly for each Special Education student they have. She explained that unless each special Education Teacher has one full day per week to get those mandatory reports done and submitted accurately, they are in violation of State and Federal laws.  She said every school system in the state, and even across the country, has to either allow their Special Ed Teachers one day a week or one week a month just to keep up with these required reports, and conventional teachers just don’t understand that. Tritapoe agreed to do an interview with us at a later date to condense and simplify her full presentations for the public.

Luci Mosesso, of the Marlinton Elementary School Local School Improvement Council, made a presentation about the effects the demolition of the old BOE building will have on that school’s summer playground programs. She said they are working cooperatively with the demolition company to ensure that the playground can safely be used for their summer programs.

Additionally, the members approved:

  • Revisions of 10 NEOLA Policies.
  • Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with the Family Resource Network and with Youth Behavioral Services to provide services for the schools
  • An MOU with Marshall University to provide Dual Credit classes this coming school year, which are English 11 & 12, Psychology, Sociology, and Physics.

Finally, they approved the recommended Service & Professional personnel actions, and conducted a Members of the Board Discussion.

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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