Pocahontas School Students Test High in Math
In addition to Ruth Bland’s discussion of the heroic actions by PCHS students and staff at the August 4th traffic accident along Route 39, which was reported on in an earlier story, Ruth Bland also discussed student enrollment and student academic test scores at the September 6th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting.
Bland said there were 899 students enrolled in the county schools as of September 6th, down from 941 last year on the same date.
Bland also said that the state’s new “Hope Scholarship” may increase the number of home-schooled students if it is implemented. She said it is currently stalled from implementation by a court injunction, based upon constitutional issues by the Kanawha Circuit Court. In August, the WV supreme court of Appeals has agreed to rule on the constitutional issues but refused to lift the temporary injunction which prohibits its implementation until the case is decided.
If allowed to be implemented, the Hope Scholarship program will pay the family of each home-schooled or private-schooled student in the state a scholarship of about $4,300, which is based upon the current amount of public funding for each student. She also said the money paid to families in the county by that scholarship would be subtracted from the state funding received by the county schools.
Bland said Pocahontas County students’ math test scores exceeded the state average, and the county was rated 6th among all the counties in the state in 11th grade math scores. Bland said that in English Language Skills (ELA), county students scored behind the state average. Bland said that the COVID school lock-downs had a negative affect on the earlier grades, while the higher-grade students bounced back well. As a result, the schools will concentrate on improving the ELA skills in younger students.
County Commissioner John Rebinski asked to board to budget money to aid sports and other extra-curricular activities. He said coaches and others have been coming to the county commission to ask for funding those activities, and when he askes them if they sought the money for those things from the BOE, they reply that the board members tell them they don’t have the money and sends them to the commission. He said the commission just paid to replace the sound system at the PCHS football field. He said the commission doesn’t mind funding those activities, but the board should also do their share. School Superintendent Beam said the board was never asked to contribute to the sound system, and to his knowledge, has not sent groups to the County Commission for funds. Sue Hollandsworth also said that she is also unaware of the board telling anyone they should get their funding from the County Commission. Both Rebinski and the board members seemed to want to work together on these things in the future.
The Student Representative, Hailey Spencer, reported to the board that the two “hot” topics at PCHS are that the classrooms had uncomfortably hot temperatures in them in August, sometimes as much as 80 degrees, and that smoking and vaping in the restrooms has resulted in closure of them at certain times.
School Nurse Jenny Friel said the State Department of Education has basically kept the same relaxed COVID rules as they implemented last spring. She said there were 8 staff members and 19 students who tested positive in the schools. However most with COVID had only mild symptoms including a sore throat and stuffy noses, which usually only last about 5 days.
The board voted that students who test positive should isolate for 5 days and wear a mask for an additional 5 days in the school, but weekends also count for this. They voted that students who are exposed but don’t have symptoms Should be monitored for symptoms developing, but not be required to wear a mask in school. The board reviewed the re-entry plan, then voted to eliminate it for now.