Pocahontas BOE Discusses Virtual School Student Performance Issues
At their December 15th meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education members heard from Lynne Bostic, the Curriculum Director who said that some of the approximately one-hundred Pocahontas County Students who have chosen to attend the West Virginia Virtual School rather then receive face-to-face instruction in their schools, are not succeeding with their education. She said that at the beginning of the school year there were about two hundred students attending virtual school, but many have voluntarily returned to regular classes.
Bostic said that while elementary students are receiving their instruction from Pocahontas County Teachers, middle and high school students receive their virtual instruction from West Virginia Virtual Teachers who are from other counties, however there are local teachers who serve as Facilitators for those students and track their progress. The Facilitators have found that for virtual students, grades are just one measurement of success since participation, assignment completion and attendance also need to be taken into account.
She said that Ron Hall, Director of Attendance, has sent letters to parents and those students who are not performing, reminding them that they had agreed when they enrolled in Virtual School that they had to put in the effort and perform satisfactorily. The letter offers students one more chance to improve before they are returned to regular classroom schooling. The letters will set up a virtual meeting with the Facilitator, Ron Hall, the parents and the student to try to solve the performance issue.
Listen as Board President Sue Hollandsworth sums up the situation.
“I feel like it’s our responsibility to see that these kids get an education” said Hollandsworth. “There are some of them that are under the impression that they are still on summer vacation. And, those are the kids that have had a chance. They are going to have one more bit of a chance to get passing grades, and if they can’t do it, Virtual school is no longer an option for them. I don’t think we have another choice. And, if we fight with parents or not, it won’t be the first time. The parents knew when they signed their students up for this that there were requirements, and if they don’t hold up their end of the bargain, then the bargain is done.”
Lucy Mosesso, a parent with kids attending virtual school pointed out that because of the WV Virtual School Platform makes it very difficult for parents to determine how their student is progressing, and many parents have to work, trusting that their older children are putting in the time and effort. Hollandsworth agreed that part of the problem is the West Virginia Virtual Platform. Bostic said that after the holidays, she will be working to develop a Pocahontas County virtual school platform with local teachers which will hopefully help solve those issues.
In other matters at this meeting, Student Representative Jacob Kinnison said his farewell to the board since this is his last board meeting, to be replaced by another representative in January. He expressed his sorrow at the death of Kassidy Long, a tenth-grade student at PCHS due to a recent traffic accident, and said students are organizing a fund raiser for the family and a candle light memorial.
After approving routine financial matters, the board approved a Teacher-in-Residence Partnership Agreement with Davis and Elkins College. It was explained that this will help solve a fifth-grade Teacher vacancy since there have been no certified teachers applying for that position. Under the agreement, the board can hire a student at the college who has completed their teacher education except for their student teaching requirement. The board will pay sixty-five percent of the regular salary and agree to not post the position until the end of the school year when the student teacher, then fully certified, can apply for it.
The board also approved a short list of personnel actions which can be found at the end of this story.
During the matters of the board, each board member added their condolences for the loss of Kassidy Long, and offered a moment of silence on her behalf. Hollandsworth also praised Superintendent Beam for allowing the teachers to take off the full day of December 23rd, which had been scheduled as a half day of school.
Approved Personnel Actions
REQUESTED TRANSFER: CALEB J. BARKLEY, as Custodian IV at Marlinton Elementary School to Custodian IV at Hillsboro Elementary School, at state minimum salary, effective January 04, 2021 for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year, term of employment is 128 days, (in addition to the days already worked) shift being 6:00 AM – 2:00 PM (Monday – Friday). Note: Term of employment shall be 261 days each year thereafter.
EMPLOYMENT: CALEB J. BARKLEY, as Evening Custodian III, extracurricular, at Hillsboro Elementary School, at $14.00 per hour, one day per week (Friday), 3.5 hours per day (5:00 PM – 8:30 PM), effective January 08, 2021. Note—This is an as needed, extracurricular position and contingent upon continued COVID-19 restrictions. Should all virtual or remote learning be enforced, this position will be delayed until students are present inside the school environment with face-to-face instruction. Paid Holidays are not part of this contract. Wages are contingent upon actually working the Evening Custodian III, extracurricular shift.
RESIGNATION: AARON L. PUGH, as Track Coach (girls’) and Track Coach (boys’) at Pocahontas County High School, retroactive to December 2, 2020, supplement being $562.50 (girls’) and $562.50 (boys’).