Pocahontas BOE Discusses Then Approves Adventure Pocahontas Budget Request

At the Pocahontas County Board of Education’s meeting on May 24th, the board members considered the request from Tracy Valach to provide the Adventure Pocahontas, Nature’s Mountain Classroom program with a $50,000 budget to expand it next school year to include all grade levels. However, School Treasurer Sherry Radcliff pointed out that at the May 3rd BOE meeting, Valach had requested the board support the program with a $45,000 budget next school year, but that has now grown to $50,000.  Radcliff said she believes the program to be very good, and the schools can afford it this year because of Federal COVID money. She warned that in future years when those federal funds disappear. the school system won’t be able to afford to continue that funding. Board Member Morgan McComb, also disagreed with providing the $50,000 budget to this popular recreational program, when we need to be concentrating on academics. He said that while he likes the program but it is not affordable.  Other board members disagreed, pointing out that while the program is recreational in nature, providing skiing, bike riding, hiking and other outdoor opportunities to students, it also uses those adventures to teach academic Stem subject goals such as Mathematics, English Language Arts and Science. They said, for example, the students write essays about those adventures. In the end, the board members voted 4 to1 to provide the requested $50,000 to the program for one year, but noted that continuing this funding in subsequent years will be dependent on the financial situation at that time.

In his report, Superintendent Beam announced that they have now filled most job vacancies for next school year.

He announced that Secretary of State Mac Warner has provided them with the rules for filling the board position that was won by the now deceased Joe Walker. Beam said Warner told him this is the first time a winning BOE candidate has died before assuming his seat. The board members, including future member Becky Campbell, at the June 7th meeting will discuss in executive session the process the next board will use at its first meeting on July 5th to both appoint a temporary member to serve until the November election, and how to elect a Board President. Beam said who will be appointed will not be discussed at the June 7th meeting. Beam also congratulated Board Secretary Sarah Hamilton for obtaining her CDL License.

Sherry Radcliff said the federal government has approved for school boards to transfer their American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to their general funds, as a way to avoid the ARC deadline for spending those funds. Radcliff said this means they can hold that money until additional funds can be added for installing HVAC in the schools.

Additionally, the board approved the Pocahontas County School’s 2022-2023 budget.

They also approved, effective July 1st, increasing extra-duty pay from $22.00 per hour to $25.00 per hour for professional employees; from $14.00 per hour to $17.00 per hour for service employees; and from $50.00 to $60.00 for activity and/or enrichment runs.

The members approved two NEOLA policies, involving increasing travel payment and meal allotments for employees on official trips.

They approved a program agreement with WVU to continue having Jennifer Nail-Cook serve as the Cohort 1, in supporting improvement in mathematics teaching and learning for this third-year of that five-year program.

The board approved their 2022-2023 meeting schedule and the recommended Service and Professional personnel actions, which can be viewed with this news story on our website: alleghenymountainradio.org.

The members met in executive session to discuss with the Superintendent, his evaluation for the 2021-2022 school year. They then returned to open session and approved it. Based upon the observed reactions of the board, it appears that the evaluation went well for Mr. Beam.

The Personnel Actions approved at this meeting can be viewed at this link –5-24-22 BOE Personnel Actions

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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