Pocahontas Board of Education Puts AFT Position In Limbo

Marlinton, Wv – The Pocahontas County Board of Education approved a non paid professional leave of absence for Marlinton Middle school teacher Christine Campbell in late February to allow her to work for the American Federation of Teachers on their 2011 Spring Drive. At the April 11th board meeting, Board member Jan McNeel sought to change that to a paid leave of absence. She had hoped to do this via a contract with the American Federation of Teachers to reimburse the county for Campbell’s wages and benefits.

However, things didn’t go according to plan Monday night. The board was to rescind the decision for non paid leave, approve a motion for paid leave, and finally approve a contract with the AFT. Only the first action was approved by the board on a three to two vote. In supporting the paid leave proposal, McNeel explains what she expects from Campbell.

“When you’re out in the school system, you see the good, the bad and the ugly, you see it all” says McNeel. “So I expect her to be able to come back and share with our county things that we can do to make [things] better for the kids in Pocahontas County. I feel like we have to think outside of the box here.”

McNeel said she hoped to be able to simply change the wording in the leave request.

“The only thing that we really needed to do was to strike out “non paid” and insert “contingent upon a contract from AFT listing exactly what they were willing to pay” says McNeel. “That’s the direction that I wanted to go.”

Board member Emery Grimes was clearly frustrated with the whole discussion.

“Two things that bother me about this; number one I wish we spent as much time on the kids of Pocahontas County as we have this” says Grimes. “Chris [Campbell] has been in the classroom and out of the classroom; she don’t [sic] know what’s going on and I don’t think we know what’s going on.”

“As I stated at the beginning of this, I don’t think the taxpayers of Pocahontas County need to be bonded with this because this is a union. If the AFT would’ve stepped to the forefront; John, [if you] had been here that night to say we’ll pay for it and we’ll pay for these benefits, I think this would have been done.”

John Estep, Staff Representative for the AFT, tried in vain to convince Board President Kenny Vance that the county would actually benefit financially by allowing Campbell to work for the AFT. Board member Margaret Worth eloquently summed up her opposition.

“The question is, is it honest to allow somebody to accrue seniority for a job as a teacher who’s really working for the AFT” says Worth. “And I just don’t see any way that we can get around saying she’s employed by the AFT. She is not a teacher during that time and that’s the hold up for me. You’ve said from the get-go, we’ll pay her.”.

Given that the Board members did not see the AFT contract until that night, Board member Leslie Cain refused to approve it without having several days to look it over. In the end a motion to approve the contract with the AFT for Campbell’s paid leave was voted down 4 to 1. A motion to approve a paid professional leave for Campbell died for lack of a second. The actions of the Board leave Campbell’s position with the AFT in limbo.

In other business, in a special ceremony held at Marlinton Elementary School, the Board recognized special achievements of over 70 students. Students were honored for their participation in the Regional Social Studies Fair, Math Field Day, USA Life Skills Competition, and the Future Business Leaders of America Awards.

Dr. Gus Penix of RESA IV gave the Board an update on their activities and how they benefit the county. Pocahontas County School Superintendant CC Lester thanked Dr. Penix saying he feels that the work of RESA IV is extremely valuable to the school system.

Elaine Diller told the Board that the One Room University is nearly ready to go. The Greenbrier Valley Campus of New River is buying new computers for the three Study Carrels and furnishing the classroom. She says she is thrilled that everybody, Bank, Government and Education is working together the way they are.

The Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding with the Human Resource Development Foundation Inc. to implement a comprehensive program for eligible youth in the region from July 1st, 2011 thru June 30th, 2012. They also approved a contract with Youth Health Services Inc to expand school- community connections to promote behavioral and emotional health of students and their families.

On the Personnel agenda, the Board took the following actions:

Approved Curtis Felton as a volunteer chaperone for Pocahontas County High School

Hired Lauren Dickerson as teacher of homebound/hospitalized students

Approved the transfer of Samantha McClure from Itinerant teacher of Special Education (half time) to teacher of mathematics grades 5 thru 8 at Marlinton Middle school

Approved a change in position for Louisa Kiner from teacher of mathematics 8th grand to the same position for 5th grade at Marlinton Middle School for 2011-2012

Accepted the resignation of Melvin Lindsey at PCHS retroactive to March 25th

Approved educational Leave for Margaret Baker beginning May 24th

Hired Nebraska Beverage as teacher of mathematics grades 9 thru 12 at PCHS contingent upon her receiving certification prior to the start of the school year

And tabled Kathryn Kolonays’ request for Medical Leave until the next meeting

Students Honored by the Pocahontas County Board of Education April 12th, 2011

The 1st Place winners of the 2011 Pocahontas County Social Studies Fair:

Division 1 Grades 4 and 5 Individual

Economics: Tara Warner
Sociology: Henry Whitehead
US History: Hunter Wilfong -1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
World History: Victoria Rose

Division 1 Grades 4 and 5 Group

US History: Shannon Stinson, Max Schebek
World History: Jake Gardner, Clayton Shinaberry, Jarrett Taylor

Division 2 Grades 6, 7 and 8 Individual

Economics:Dylan Cassell
Geography:Lara Baudler, Jenna Bryant
Psychology:Galen Sexton
Sociology:Emily Boothe
State & Local Studies:Cody McCarty-1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
US History:Melissa Murphy
World History:Miles Goodall

Division 2 Grades 6, 7 and 8 Group

Anthropology: Mikalan Holder, Marilyn Creager-1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
Geography:Lara Baudler, Jenna Bryant
Sociology:Samantha Collins, Kaila Peck
State & Local Studies:Natalie Hartzell,Sarah Lambert – 1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
US History:Michelle Murphy,Tessa Himelrick – 1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
World History: Kala Lester, Danielle Cain -1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair

Division 3 High School Grades 9 thru 12 Individual

Psychology:Santan Beck – 1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
Sociology: Fredericka Gardner
State & Local Studies: Gabriel Walkup
US History:Trisha Circosta -1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
World History: Drew Caloccia -1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair

Division 3 Grades 9 thru 12 Group

Geography:Erin White, Parker White
Sociology:Tyler Davis, Cassidy Rao -1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
State & Local Studies:Kara Lane, Mica Cain, Priscilla Grimes
US History:Tiffanie Alexander, Rebecca Jerome -1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair
World History: Autumn Ryder, Justin Cain -1st Place Regionals and going to State Social Studies Fair

First Place Winners, Math Field Day

Brady Ford, Colt Matthews Marlinton Elementary

1st Place Regionals and going to State Math Field Day

Briar Wilfong Marlinton Middle School
Taylor Lane Marlinton Middle School
Dalton Irvine Marlinton Middle School
Vincent Harper Marlinton Middle School

1st Place Regionals and going to State Math Field Day

Frederika Gardner – Pocahontas County High School

Skills USA Gold Medal

Alex Cutlip
Derrick Hammons
Alex Griffin
Matt Marcum
Gabriel Walkup
Phil Wytiest
Matt Calroon

Skills USA Bronze Medal

Justin Oscar
Noah Pugh

Future Business Leaders of American Silver Medal

Karen Wilfong
Brittany Phillips

Future Business Leaders of American Bronze Medal

Rachael Cain
Nathan Hammons
Shonda Carr
Jamie Booth
Lorena Rose
Christin Beverage

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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