Pocahontas County Board of Education Directs the School Superintendent to Look into Problems at Marlinton Middle School

At their May 26th meeting, the Pocahontas County Board of Education approved two parents’ requests to transfer their children from Marlinton Middle School to Green Bank Middle School.  The Board is concerned about why this is happening. These requests were made even though the parents will be responsible for transporting their children the extra 30 miles of so to Green Bank.

Because of transfer requests and parental complaints the Board directed Dr. Bechtel, Superintendent of Schools to investigate the possible problems at Marlinton Middle School which may be causing the transfer requests and increasing number of parental complaints about some administrators and teachers at the school.  Mr. Emery Grimes, Board President asked Dr. Bechtel to present his solutions to to the next Board meeting.  He talked about the problems the Board is hearing about Marlinton Middle School.

“Whenever kids start transferring from one school to another and the parents have to drive them 30 or forty miles and you have to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning instead of 6, something is serious and we need to look at it as an issue because it is an issue” Grimes said. “I will tell you this, I get more calls on Marlinton Middle School then I do on the other 4 schools put together.”

Anne Smith, a teacher at the Green Bank Middle School spoke up to add a teacher’s take on the upcoming investigation.

“Can I just add something here, I just feel like I need to” Smith said. “You’re asking great questions and I am really glad you’re investigating it. Please look at the teachers’ side too, look at the administrators’ side too to get their feedback as well so you can have a complete picture.”

One parent who had requested the transfer of her child to Green Bank Middle School told the Board that she became really concerned when 4 or 5 months ago her child told her she was not learning anything at Marlinton Middle School.

That parent went on to describe the situation at Marlinton Middle School as being a “disastrous mess” and mentioned that the punishments handed down to students at the school are “unequal.”

Another parent who is transferring his child from Marlinton Middle School to Green Bank says his daughter told him that she has lost all respect for Marlinton Middle School and has issues with a particular teacher.

Board President Grimes said that when the Board keeps getting the same complaints on the same school, the same teachers and the same administrators from different parents, there could be a problem.  Grimes did make it clear that there are great teachers and staff at Marlinton Middle School and the problems seem limited to a few individuals.

In another significant action, the Board addressed a request from the County Commission that the Board release the restrictions it had placed years ago in the Deed of Conveyance from the Board to the Commission on the property commonly known as the “Slaven Property” which is located in what is now called the Green Bank Industrial Park. Those restrictions require that any future sale or use of the property must be for “Economic Development”.  These restrictions have prevented the Commissioners from being able to sell or lease the property because no one has sought the property for that purpose.

The Board discussed the matter with their attorney privately then voted to not remove the restrictions.  There was no public explanation offered for that decision.

Susan Herald, Librarian/Media Specialist at Green Bank Elementary/Middle School briefed the Board on some of the educational benefits that the newly acquired Microsoft Office 365 provides to teachers and students.

The Board approved payment of vender claims, approved Budget Adjustments, approved their Bank Reconciliation and approved several small Grant Awards.

They also approved the following personnel actions:

  • The employment of Jared Bennett as an English/Language Arts/Reading Teacher at Marlinton Middle School for next year’s semesters provided he obtains the proper certifications prior to being employed.
  • An extension of unpaid medical leave through August 1, 2015 for Mali Minter.
  • The hiring of 3 School Bus Operators for the remainder of this year, Ryan Anderson, Keith Beverage,II and Pamela Vanorsdale.
  • The hiring of Amanda Nottingham as a Substitute Teacher for the remainder of this school year.

Dr. Bechtel, l Superintendent of Schools recognized Mr. Thomas Boothe, a Teacher at Green Bank as an “Honorary Knight of the Golden Horseshoe” for 2015. Boothe received this honor for helping 20 students win the Golden Horseshoe award during the eleven years he taught History at Green Bank School.

He also commended the Girls and the Boys High School Track Teams for outstanding  performances at the State competitions in Charleston.

Dr. Bechtel also informed the Board that the State Auditor has notified the Pocahontas County Board of Education is receiving a check for $304,632.31 which is the final payment for the National Forest Land.

The next Board meeting will be on Monday, June 8, 2015 beginning with a work session at 4:30 PM followed by the regular meeting at 7 PM.

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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