Pocahontas Board of Education to Offer Employees Voluntary 403(b) Retirement Plan
Keith Ruckman, owner of Integral Financial LLC, made a sales pitch at the July 25th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting. Ruckman pointed out that the Pocahontas County Board of Education was the only county in the state not offering its teachers and staff the opportunity to voluntarily put away money in an IRS approved 403(b) plan. The Board voted to offer such a plan, since it will not cost the Board any money, but would give its employees an opportunity to have as much money as they choose withheld from their salaries and invested into a pre-taxed plan. Integra Financial LLC offers such plans to a handful of the other counties in West Virginia. Some Board members questioned whether they should hear from other companies that offer these plans before picking this one. It was pointed out, however, that in the future the Board could allow any other such company that asks to additionally offer their plans and let the employees pick which one they want- or if they want a 403(b) plan at all.
The Board also heard from distressed parents of a child in the Green Bank area who felt that their child should be allowed to enroll in a Pre-School program even though he turns 5 years old about a week and a half before the September first registration date. They believe their child has issues causing him to function at a level younger than his chronological age, and that should be reason for making an exception to the usual rules that pre-school is for 4 year olds and Kindergarten is for 5 year olds. The parents feel their child is just not ready for Kindergarten and being placed there could cause him future educational problems. Superintendent Beam pointed out that there is just no space in either the Green Bank or any other Pre-School classes in the county without hiring another pre-school teacher which would cost tens of thousands of dollars. He also pointed out that there are two or three other children ahead of their child on a waiting list for pre-school. Beam did say he would take a second look at it to see if anything else could be done. We decided to not name the family in this report despite their having no objections to presenting their case in an open public meeting.
The Board members also heard from Spanish Teacher Shirlene Groseclose who expressed her concern over the future of her educational field trips for Spanish speaking countries since the Board has determined their insurance does not cover events outside the U.S. She was told that if she still wanted to do the trips, they could be done as non-official school sponsored educational trips.
Ruth Bland gave a report in which she revealed receiving almost ½ million dollars from the US Department of Agriculture’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant. This can be used to purchase new video conferencing equipment for all the schools to present various courses. She also reported the Board would receive enough money from the State this year to purchase 1 new school bus. Bland also pointed out that by allowing the Head Start Program to control and require documentation of how the Board spends $477,382.79 in County Tax money for personnel, Head Start graciously gives the County $4,000.
The Board heard from Tony Crago of the WV Dept. of Education’s Office of Child Nutrition who told them that by agreeing to have eligibility for school lunch and breakfast reimbursement made under the new Community Eligibility Program or CEP as opposed to the old way where parents have to fill out eligibility applications, the Board could save enough money to feed all of their students – at least at the elementary level. The CEP uses existing program eligibility such as SNAP and other programs instead of individual applications. The Board said they would consider this.
In addition to approving the usual financial transactions and reports, the Board approved extending several existing food contracts for the upcoming school year.
They approved forming a Golf Club at Marlinton middle School with Jessica Hays as Advisor and Jared Bennett as Assistant advisor, and they approved Daniel Mullens as a Volunteer Assistant JV Football Coach at PCHS.
They placed a new policy on calling out substitute Service Personnel on 30 day comment, and approved memorandums of Understanding and Agreement with Community Care of WV to provide school based health services at all the schools except Hillsboro Elementary.
They decided to not approve the purchase of a Bad Boy Mower from Varner Construction Co. at least until they have contacted other mower venders in the county to get their prices.
Listen Below to the approved Personnel Agenda from the July 25th Pocahontas County Board of Education Meeting