Pocahontas BOE Rejects Allowing Staff Personal Device Connections to School WIFI
At their January 28th Meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education voted to not allow school employees to connect their personal electronic devices or phones to the school WIFI. This had become an issue last fall when school staff expressed frustration and safety concerns over the school policy forbidding such connections except for a few employees who have work related needs to do so, such as maintenance and academic coaches. The staffs’ concerns included the need to discretely communicate during potential emergencies.
After a discussion at this meeting, the board members concluded that the potential problems allowing this outweighed the benefits. They said that teachers could communicate using radios during an emergency.
Following the vote, however, Peggy Owens, an Art Teacher at Marlinton Middle School spoke up. She said that with this decision by the board, she feels the need to transfer to another school. She went on to explain why.
“Radios are great if everybody has one” Owens said. “Every teacher doesn’t have a radio at our school. If we had an active shooter come into our school, I would have no way to be notified, because I don’t have a radio. I love my job at Marlinton Middle School, but I am in a classroom where if Anything happens, I can’t reach anybody. I can’t call 911, I can’t notify the office. If every teacher had a radio, it would be a different issue, but we have got three radios in the whole school.”
Board President Joe Walker responded that radios are not expensive and can be provided fairly quickly, but the vote had already taken place. He added that the board can certainly revisit the issue in the future.
During his special recognition and report, Superintendent Terrence Beam brought up several items:
- He congratulated the Robotics Team for qualifying for the state competitions coming up in Maryland and said the team will be demonstrating for middle schools and the school staff.
- Beam said that the planned visit by Japanese students has been postponed until September, but this will also enable them to experience the fall festivals in the community.
- He also said that he met with Grow Appalachia member Steve white and County Commissioner Walt Helmick about permitting that organization to use about one acre of the board’s unused property in Green Bank as a community garden.
The Board heard from student representative, Sierra Rodriguez, who reported on the PCHS sports teams, and from Nick Dailey of the Greenbrier Valley Physical Therapy and Fitness. Dailey explained a proposal for the schools to hire a nationally certified athletic trainer to be present at all school sporting events, not just football. He said that soccer actually causes more concussions than football, and acrobatic cheerleading causes more injuries than football. The board expressed interest in this and will look into it and see if it can fit into next year’s budget
In addition to approving the routine financial reports, the board approved the following:
- Chad Baldwin and Chastity Taylor as volunteer Basketball Coaches for the 4th and 5th grades at the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.
- Ronald Gordon and Jessie Sharp as volunteer Basketball Coaches for the 4th and 5th grades at Marlinton Elementary School.
- Joshua Hardy and Justin Taylor as volunteer Basketball Coaches for the 4th and 5th grades at Hillsboro Elementary School.
- Alexandra Luikart and Megan Luikart as volunteer Cheerleading Coaches for the 4th and 5th grades at Hillsboro Elementary School.
- The policy on Reduction in Force for professional personnel lateral positions.
- The Green Bank Elementary-Middle School’s 5th grade students to travel by school bus to the Massanutten Water Park from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 pm on May 15, 2020.
- Teresa Mullen to transport two students by private vehicle to the Simulated Workplace Workshop in Martinsburg, WV on April 20 and 21, 2020.
- The Marlinton Middle School’s 8th grade to travel by charter bus to the Bush Gardens Theme Park and Virginia Beach on May 18 and 19, 2020. This trip will be paid for by fund raising.
The Board approved the Superintendent’s annual evaluation.
During the matters of the board, Joe Walker stated that the board’s goals for this year include credibility and accountability, along with increasing the board members’ knowledge of the schools’ curriculum and the state curriculum standards.
The Board approved the below personnel actions.
January 28, 2020
Professional and Service Personnel
- REQUESTED TRANSFER: KRISTEN KINNISON from Executive Secretary/Accountant III at the Central Office to Secretary II/Accountant II at Hillsboro Elementary School.
- UNPAID MEDICAL LEAVE: SUSAN GRANT, Teacher of Multi-Subjects at Marlinton elementary School effective March 9, 2020 (or upon exhaustion of personal leave) for a period of 12 weeks.
- EMPLOYMENT: TAMMY RIDER, as Itinerant Licensed Practical Nurse (assignment Marlinton Elementary School.)
- EMPLOYMENT: MICHELLE RIDER, as Itinerant Licensed Practical Nurse (assignment Green Bank Elementary-Middle School.)
- EMPLOYMENT: ERIKA HUNTER as Substitute Teacher for the Pocahontas county Schools as needed. This is effective January 30, 2020.