Pocahontas BOE Receives Updates on “Community in Schools”

The Pocahontas County Board of Education’s April 20th meeting began at an unusual time, 8:00 a.m. since the first order of business was to reconvene the March 9th Special Levy meeting, The board gave final approval to the schedule of proposed tax levy rates for the fiscal year ending on June 30th, as follows:

  • Class I 19.40
  • Class II 38.80
  • Class III 77.60
  • Class IV 77.60

The board then opened its regular meeting. During that meeting, updates on how the “Community in Schools” program (CIS) is working in individual schools were provided by the following program coordinators.

Jonathan Paul, of the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School said the purpose of the program is to “surround students with support to help them succeed.” He said that at his school, the program is providing each student with a small Red Spruce tree to take home and plant this summer and with a “play outside” take home bag.  They are also helping students participate in the “Race to Read” contest, where students will receive prizes for reading the most pages in books by May 26th. Paul said one of the measurements of the success of the Community in Schools program at Green Bank is that the school had 14 behavioral referrals last year but only 2 this year.

Derek Toll from Marlinton Middle School’s CIS program said CIS is connecting with students and are connecting the community with the schools. Toll provided examples such as the High Tunnel providing troubled students a chance to get involved in gardening as an outlet, increasing tutoring hours at libraries for students in remote learning and for students who have gotten out of COVID quarantine and need to catch up, and developing a reward punch card program where students can receive discounts from local merchants for doing good deeds.

Lois Wilfong from the PCHS CIS program said the program is assisting students with credit recovery. She said she also provides students with supplies such as paper, device chargers and pencils and assists them with homework packets. She provided a success example where CIS assisted a grade-challenged student who wanted to play football with his academics and his grades improved enough where he can play on the team.

Ruth Bland talked about the development of a multi-culture curriculum for the schools. She said all schools are required to establish multicultural committees but they don’t just want handpicked staff on these who are enthusiastic about it but also members who represent all opinions about it.

Sherry Radcliff presented a very detailed and complex Power Point Program about the various COVID grants the schools have been given, and the restrictions on the use of those funds.

Superintendent Beam provided the following recognitions:

School Nurse Jenny Friel has received a School Nursing Award and will be recognized for that at the next board meeting; Don McNeel is the Service Person of the Year and Stephanie Burns the Teacher of the year.

Beam also said the Pocahontas Schools’ Needs Project was not funded by the SBA but they can re-apply in the fall.

He also expressed concerns about the language used and the behavior displayed by a few parents at the basketball games and by the refusal by some to wear masks at the games.

Beam said has reminded principals that recreational field trips are not permitted this year because of COVID; and he said the Super Scholar Trophies will be awarded at each school this year also because of CODID.

Additionally, Beam said he is optimistic that court mediation may restore some or all of the State Aid money incorrectly denied the schools from 2007 to 2016. He said the State Legislature has directed the state to negotiate this in good faith.

Board Member Sam Gibson said he is concerned that teachers and staff in schools are getting lax about wearing masks, Beam agreed to re-emphasize that to the principals.

The other items approved during this meeting were routine in nature

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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