Pocahontas School Superintendent Seeking SBA Help to Replace PCHS Sewer
Pocahontas County Superintendent of Schools Terrance Beam says he intends to apply to the West Virginia School Building Authority for a “Major Improvement Project. Mr. Beam explains.
“We’re going to submit a project this summer with the goal of replacing the sewer system at Pocahontas County High school” said Mr. Beam. “A Major Improvement Project is something that school systems are allowed to apply for each year through the School Building Authority. These projects are limited to less than a million dollars. It’s how Hillsboro’s cafeteria was funded. The High School’s sewer system has been there over 40 years and it’s designed to last 20 or 25 years. It’s obviously outlived its usefulness and we have some major issues with that system. So we’re going to make a proposal. The Architects are getting us a quote for this that we’ll submit to the Board (of Education) on the 20th of February and submit it to the State. It’s due on March first. They take those applications; They judge the value of the projects and make the determination in June or July as to which school systems get funded for their particular projects.
But the High School sewerage system is not the only thing we’ll put in that Major Improvement Project. The other thing is with the vocational Building, we’re going to ask to replace one of the garage doors in one of the shop rooms, and also replacing the outside doors on the Vocational Building itself. Now one thing that you have to understand is with a Major Improvement Project, you have to limit yourself to one school. We’ve chosen Pocahontas County High School as the one with the most need because of the sewer system. And just to reiterate something we’ve said for a year now, we cannot apply to the SBA to do anything about Marlinton Elementary School’s condition. That’s just something we cannot address with School Building Authority applications.”
Superintendent Beam had another topic to fill us in on.
“Last Thursday at Bridgeport we had a Superintendent’s Meeting” said Mr. Beam. “We were not expecting it, but governor Justice came to spend an hour with us. I’ve been in a lot of meetings with a lot of different people and I’ve never been in one where the people were so attentive at. No one got up to get a cup of coffee or go to the bathroom or anything else. Everybody sat in their seats and listened to governor Justice for a complete hour, and was very pleased with some of the things we heard. Obviously I am not going to speak for the Governor, but I will say he did address two or three issues that are major issues in the area of Education in West Virginia. One of them is the A-F Accountability system that most people agree is an unfair way of judging schools. The Governor made the point that we should be worrying about if our children are making grades A through F and not worry about the schools necessarily. It is hard to judge a school on the different areas that they use that standard. He also talked about the Smarter Balance Assessment and his vision of eliminating that at some point and replacing it with something similar to the A.C.T. Test. The Smarter Balance is an assessment given in the end of the year to students in grades 3 through 12 and is based on the Common Core Standard. One of the reasons it is not a fair test is there is no accountability to the students to take that test, where there is for an A.C.T. for example, and so we want to make sure the test is accurately measuring what the students have learned during the year, and if the students see no value in the test, which a lot of them don’t, they do not put the effort in. And then you get a skewed score and it doesn’t show what they’ve learned. All of these things are of course, up for discussion with the State board of Education, the Legislators and so forth.”
Superintendent Beam said the Governor also talked about having a plan to raise teacher salaries to be more competitive with other States, but although he could not promise to do that this year because of the big state deficits, it is a priority and he has a plan to do it in future years.
Mr. Beam was also excited that Pocahontas County, along with two other rural counties –Randolph and Greenbrier -have been invited by the new president of the State Board of Education to send the School’s Treasurer to the State Board next Wednesday to present the unique problems faced by rural West Virginia’s County School systems. What Mr. Beam wants to see presented to the State Board and the Legislature is to consider giving the County Schools more flexibility in how to spend the money the State provides to the schools. The money now often has to be spent on things that are not major needs or priorities of the schools.