Proposed State Law Could Cause Big Cuts in State Aid to Pocahontas Schools
At the March 30th Pocahontas County Board of Education meeting, School Superintendent Terrence Beam announced that the WV State Senate is considering Senate Bill 711, which if passed, would cut a lot of state aid money from Pocahontas Schools each year.
Pocahontas County Schools actually only have a little over one thousand (1,000) students enrolled but currently the state aid formula credits the county schools as if they had 1400 students. This legislation would reduce the number of students the state credits its aid upon to 1200, resulting in a reduction by 200 of the number of students credited to the county for state aid. Since the county receives nine-thousand dollars in state aid for each student, it would receive about a $180,000 cut in state aid per year if this bill passes. Beam said similar cuts have been proposed in the past, but were never approved by the Legislature, however this year, Susan Collins, the Superintendents’ Liaison with the Legislature seems particularly concerned about the possibility that this bill could pass.
Also, as part of this meeting, which was held at the Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, that school’s Local School Improvement Council (LSIC) made a presentation to the board members. Principal Julie Shiflet introduced the school’s LSIC President, Karen Murphy who talked about a lot of accomplishments this year at the school. She said the winners of the school’s coloring contest were McCala Plaugher, Karliana Boyd and Noah Foe, while Dillan Keller won second place in the County Spelling Bee. She also said Melissa Taylor is the school’s Teacher of the Year and Sarah Cover is the Service Employee of the year.
Kathern LaFleur, talked about Title 1 accomplishments, and said that academic benchmarks at the school were better then expected despite COVID-19, and has been impressed with the positive attitudes of the students.
Erin Baldwin talked about the emphasis at the school on informational reading and writing.
Johnathan Paul coordinator of the Community in School program said the purpose of that is to “Bridge families with the schools.” He said that since there were no face-to-face activities in the schools this year, they sent “Family Engagement Together Bags home to encourage kids to work on projects with their parents.
During the regular board meeting, Board President Sue Hollandsworth said that the board’s Attorney, Jason Long advised her that the Matters of the Board portion of the meeting should either be eliminated or restricted to topics discussed during the current or past board meetings because of legal considerations.
Superintendent Beam said awarding five-year and ten-year service pins to employees is under consideration. He said also he spoke to the attorney representing the board in a lawsuit against the state which is seeking to recoup state 1.2 million dollars in state aid money the county schools claim they were shorted in years past. Beam said the case is going to arbitration in the middle of April, and the lawyers seemed to be optimistic about the case.
Beam said the voluntary summer school will run from June 8th to July 1st with no school on Fridays or West Virginia Day. He said they did not get as many applications from employees to work this as he had hoped for.
Ruth Bland and Lynn Bostic said they are developing a multi-cultural curriculum, and basing it on about six existing policies.
Dana Cutlip, who is both the school system’s Social Worker and a Counselor at Hillsboro Elementary School talked to the board about how her job involves assisting students with mental health, anxiety, truancy issues, substance abuse, self-injury and even suicide concerns.
The board approved a large number or NEOLA policies and made one change to the school re-entry plan. They removed all reference to the COVID-19 State Map, since the Governor has discontinued using it to close down the high schools.
The next Board of Education meeting will be at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, April 20th when they will reconvene the proposed Levy Tax meeting followed by the regular board meeting.