Pocahontas County Board of Education approves support for band competition and new substitute policy

Pocahontas County Board of Education members voted on several measures on Monday evening, including a new policy for substitute personnel and financial support for high school band members on their way to a national competition in Pennsylvania this weekend.

Pocahontas County High School marching band competed last week at a regional event in Hurricane, W.Va. and qualified for the Atlantic Coast Championship of the Tournament of Bands Conference to be held in Hershey, Pa.

The band will be performing in the tournament on Saturday morning, said Robert Mann, band director. Pocahontas County is the only band representing the state of West Virginia at the tournament.

“It’s a really awesome opportunity for our kids,” Mann told the Board on Monday.

He requested assistance with the cost of transportation and board members voted to cover the cost of county bus transportation not to exceed $1,000. Band members have raised money for the cost of hotel lodging on Friday and tickets to Hershey amusement park. The band will be returning on Saturday evening.

Board members approved a substitute policy stating that service personnel (cooks, custodians, aids, and bus drivers, for instance) must designate two schools that they will agree to substitute on a regular basis and must accept at least 50% of requested days that they are called for work. The new policy will go into effect July 1, 2015.

Board members also adopted a new West Virginia State Board of Education policy regarding students with exceptionalities. The new policy is more than 150 pages and includes some substantial changes, said Ruth Bland, Director of Special Education.

“Special education staff has already received continuing education on this policy,” Bland told the Board.

Board members discussed the issue of alternative education for middle school students. Currently, middle school students in need of alternative education for an extended time – as opposed to a short-term detention for discipline issues – are sent to the high school.

Bland praised the current alternative education program at the high school but questioned the efficacy of mixing middle school students with high school students.

“The Board has really wallered around this question several times,” said Board President Emery Grimes. “We need to figure out a way to fund alternative education at the middle school.”

Sherry Radcliff, director of finance for the Board, questioned the availability of dollars in the budget for middle school alternative education. Radcliff also briefed the board on a recent conference she attended sponsored by

West Virginia Association of School Business Officials. She handed out a PowerPoint from the conference that cited state budget revenue declines and said there likely will be future budget cuts.

“I’ll tell you right now, it is bleak,” Radcliff said, referencing the financial outlook for state school systems. “There will be cuts in our 2016 year, so we need to be looking out.”

She also noted several events this week to raise awareness about the upcoming school levy vote.

Superintendent Dr. Donald Bechtel apprised the Board of several employment changes in the county:

• Stephanie L. Barkley, as Secretary III/Accountant III (half-time assignment in central office), effective Oct. 29;

•Kevin Stitzinger, as Substitute Teacher, effective Oct. 29;

• Diane Arbogast, as Substitute Secretary/Accountant , effective Oct. 29; and

• resignation of Jessica E. Cole as Substitute Aid and Substitute Secretary/Accountant as of Oct. 15.

In addition, Alexandra Plate, a senior at Pocahontas County High School, was named student representative for the Board. The Board also approved revenue and expenditures as well as vendor claims for the month of September.

Story By

Kelly Taber

Current Weather