Pocahontas school funding tied to enrollment

Marlinton, W.Va. –

Pocahontas County school enrollment this year is 1,139 – about 20 students less than last year. During Tuesday night’s Board of Education meeting, board president Emery Grimes says that declining enrollment could affect state funding.

“Here’s what the deal’s going to be,” he said. “We’ve got 1,139 students right now and we’re getting paid for 1,400.”

Board member Kenneth Vance says enrollment started declining after a major construction project was finished.

“It started when they completed the dam over at Bath County,” he said. “When it was completed, that’s when it started going and it’s gone pretty much. Now, the last couple years ago, it kind of stabilized.”

Board treasurer Alice Irvine says funding cuts are possible.

“We were notified by the State Department – Joe Panetta’s office – that there may be a reduction in state aid in 2014,” she said. “Because we’re not going to have the stimulus money. And we had stimulus money last year – back when we hired these two technology people – we had enough money, you know, to do some of those things. That money is over.”

Grimes and board member Kenneth Vance discuss the number of technology positions in county schools.

“So, we’ve got three people in technology,” Grimes said.

“Four, Ms. Bland’s in there someplace,” said Vance.

“Yeah, you’re on technology,” said Grimes. “So, how much technology? Here’s what I’m thinking about – how much technology do we need. We’re a small county. Now – wait a minute – we’re saying, ‘ahhh,we need more technology,’ – Snowshoe’s got two.”

Technology coordinator Ruth Bland responds.

“They have one network,” she said. “We have five different networks. The state Department of Education is recommending that every school have their own TIS, which is technology integration specialist. You only have two in the county right now – Sue Herrold at Green Bank and you have Lisa Dennison. The thing is there’s more and more and more technology that’s coming into the instruction – tons of it. That’s why they are asking that they have technology integration specialists for the school.”

Grimes notes that county and school populations are tied to jobs.

“It’s jobs,” he said. “It’s jobs. If you look at the last census that come out, we lost about the population as you do in the school system, if you follow. It’s a following. You know, the only way that’s going to come back is to get jobs.”

Board member Janet McNeel said grants are a potential source of funding. Irvine said grant money likely will be in shorter supply in the future.

Schools Superintendant C.C. Lester supports board member Cheryl Beverage’s idea to employ a VISTA volunteer to help locate grant money.

“I think Ms. Beverage has a point there too, about the VISTA workers,” he said. “They may be able to help us on this grant that we just received.”

Irvine says the board will have better information on funding by the end of the year.

“So, I think we will know, probably by the first part of December, of where we stand, as far as staffing – how much we are over the formula,” she said.

The board approved the fiscal year 2012 financial report.

During his report, Lester told the board that the state had awarded a $300,000 grant to the county schools, to be used for dropout prevention.

Alpha Associates architect Matt Breakey updated the board on Hillsboro School construction plans. Breakey told the board that the $1.3 million project could be completed as early as August 2013

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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