Pocahontas County Board Of Education Welcomes New Member
Marlinton, WV – The Pocahontas County Board of Education offered a warm welcome to new board member Martha Giddings at their meeting Monday night. Giddings is filling the unexpired term of former board member Leslie Cain, who stepped down in January to run for another elected county office. Following that, board member Emery Grimes was elected Vice-President of the board, a position formerly held by Cain.
The board heard reports and updates from several individuals. One of those is Davina Agee, the child protective service worker for Pocahontas County. This was a rare public appearance for Agee, who prefers to stay in the background due to the nature of her work.
“April is Child Abuse Awareness month and this will be the second year that we’ve actually had a child abuse awareness committee in Pocahontas County,” she says. “Our goal this year is to get into your schools. I’m asking for two things; I’m asking to be allowed to bring my team into your schools and do a program in April for child abuse awareness and I’m asking to come to your ISC day [in-service training] and talk with your teachers also.”
Agee says her team includes law enforcement from both the state and county, as well as representatives from CASA [Court Appointed Special Advocates], CYAC [Child and Youth Advocacy Center], and the county prosecuting attorney’s office.
“I think there’s a lot of things that go on in Pocahontas County that most people that don’t do jobs like I do, don’t know about,” says Agee. “And because we don’t talk about them and we don’t put it out there for people, they’re going to keep happening and kids are going to continue to be the victims of sexual assaults and child abuse because we’re not publicizing what’s going on.”
“Last year I worked a case where two children were sexually assaulted by someone that lived less than 10 yards from your school,” she says. “This person was luring children into his home off of your school property and I’m sure you don’t know that.”
Sex offender registries are sent to the schools, but Agee says there are concerns about how widely that information is distributed or available. The board asked Superintendent C.C. Lester to coordinate with school principals to set up the sessions.
Adrienne Jurgens, an Americorps Vista who’s been working with the Farm to School food program, told the board they need a $6000.00 match from the board in order to qualify for federal grants to keep the program going. The program has served fresh fruit and vegetables to over 200 county kids in the last year alone. While the board applauds the program, they were unable to provide any funding Monday night, as the request was not on the agenda. Jurgens says Monday was the deadline to get the matching commitment, but she will try to get an extension. Her Vista position in the program will expire in August 2012.
Patricia Collett of Community Care of WV spoke with the board about providing in school health care for county students. Community Care is a federally qualified health center and has two clinics in the county, in Marlinton and Green Bank. They would like to provide immunizations, wellness checks and other basic health services. As this idea is still in the preliminary planning stages, Board President Kenny Vance asked Collett to come back and present more detail at a future board meeting.
The board also heard from Rachel Taylor about a proposal to use a building near Green Bank Elementary Middle School as a temporary site for the proposed Green Bank Wellness center. After the presentation, Lester and Vance both indicated that they would visit the site in question to gather more information.
In other business, the board approved Bialek Insurance Agency for the board’s insurance coverage through the WV Board of Risk. They also approved a contract with Joanne Persinger as a math consultant for the county. Board member Emery Grimes agreed to serve as the board representative on the WVU Extension Service Committee.
In his report, Superintendent Lester recognized two teachers from Green Bank area for their upcoming work with NASA.
“I’d like to recognize Anne Smith once again; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has named two West Virginia teachers to participate in research flights,” says Lester. “Sara Scoles of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Anne Smith of Green Bank will participate in airborne astronomy ambassador program.”
In comments from the board, Jan McNeel says she’s concerned there may be a gender bias when it comes to giving BIF’s or behavior intervention forms in county schools. She says boys are receiving the forms at a much higher rate than girls. She also feels that students should not be denied going on taxpayer supported school trips just because they’ve received a BIF. Lester agrees with that sentiment, and says the program was never meant to be a punitive one.
Employment of the following for the remainder of the 2011-2012 fiscal year:
Mary Dawson, Ricky I. Sharp II, and Kristy Sisler as teachers of homebound/hospitalized students
Joshua Barkley, Ollie Barkley, Loretta Irvine and Jetta Wilfong as substitute cooks as needed
Janet Cole, Dorthia Shamblin, Sarah Hamilton, and Holly Taylor as substitute secretary/accountant as needed
Tonja Armstrong and Loretta Irvine as substitute aides as needed
Employment of Richard Hartzell as girls softball coach at Pocahontas County HS
Employment of Michael Burns as At-Risk Interventionist at Marlinton Middle School