Pocahontas Board of Education Meeting
At the start of the June 30th meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education was scheduled to abolish two teaching positions at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, one in Reading & Language Arts (RLA) and the other in 5th Grade. By the end of that meeting, the board voted 3-2 to abolish the Reading & Language Arts position and unanimously voted to keep the 5th Grade position.
Three weeks later, at the July 21st meeting, the Board decided to abolish the 5th Grade teaching position by a vote of 3-2. Several parents and teachers spoke out in opposition to the abolishment at Monday night’s meeting, expressing their disappointment in the board and urging them to consider how the decision will affect scheduling, course loads, and classroom management at Green Bank.
In a letter to the Board, Green Bank Principle Ricky Sharp wrote that he has been working to factor in the loss of the second Reading & Language Arts position while keeping 90 minutes of instruction time consistent with that at Marlinton Middle and Marlinton Elementary Schools. Now that the 5th grade position has been abolished, Sharp is tasked with configuring the schedule while minimizing impact to teacher workload and student education. “I don’t see any way of making the schedule work and maintaining equality across the county,” he wrote.
The decision to move the 5th grade from Marlinton Middle School to Marlinton Elementary School also continues to raise concerns, as programs like Band and Special Topics run the risk of being affected. There is also the possibility that, with drama teacher Margaret Baker now working full time, the 8th grade plays and after school drama programs she was involved with will be impacted.
American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Representative John Estep gave a presentation on Policy 500, which is designed to allow teachers to have meaningful involvement in the hiring recommendation process. According to Estep, faculty senates are responsible for setting their own procedures on how they will participate in the hiring system. The faculty senate can change those procedures at beginning of school, the beginning of the second semester, or prior to leaving school at the end of the year.
“It does empower teachers to be a part of the process, which is very important,” Estep said, “but it only works if everyone in the system works within the system.” He and Director of Federal Programs Terrence Beam are planning a faculty senate training session on August 12. Estep also said he will be available to come to schools and work with faculty senates and help them develop procedures according to policy.
The Board approved a contract with Joanna Burt-Kinderman at $350 per day for 68 contracted days during the 2014-2015 school year.
On the Personnel Agenda, it was announced that Derek Lambert resigned as Assistant Principal at Pocahontas County High School. Four new hires were announced: two soccer coach positions at Pocahontas County High School and two basketball coach positions at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
Dr. Bechtel said that the county’s two new elementary school principals – Gregory Ball at Marlinton Elementary and Joe Arbogast at Hillsboro Elementary – will start this week.
The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, July 28th at 7:00 at the Pocahontas County Board of Education Conference Room.