WV Legislature Considering Consolidating by Creating Multi-County Boards of Educations
At the November 30th Pocahontas County Board of Education (BOE) meeting, School Superintendent Terrence Beam stunned the room by announcing that the State Legislature is pushing to consolidate both the County BOEs and School Superintendents. He explained that would mean having only one BOE and one School Superintendent running about four or five counties’ schools. This would mean that each county would only be able to elect one member to their new multi-county Board of Education. He said the state views this as cost saving, while for the counties -citizens and parents – it would mean a great loss of local control over their school systems and their children’s’ educations. He did not see how one Superintendent overseeing multiple counties’ schools could know the unique issues facing each school or even the uniqueness of each county. Beam said that even if passed by the legislature, they would have to find an equitable and graduated way to implement this consolidation since local school boards’ current members were elected for multi-year terms and current school superintendents have contracts that might extend over multiple years. He said those existing terms of office and contracts will present quite a challenge to implementing such a radical consolidation.
When asked by several board members what they could do to try and prevent the legislature from enacting this consolidation, Beam suggested they write their local legislators opposing this since it would greatly dilute local control of education.
Beam also reminded the board that the policy of early dismissals on Wednesdays would end after December, since the state only permitted the county to do this through December.
He also offered support for several school employees who are quite ill with COVID, wishing them a speedy recovery.
Beam said that on December 13th, the School Building Authority will announce their awards for their Needs Project Grants for 2022. Pocahontas County has applied for a project grant which would, among other things, provide air conditioning to Marlinton Elementary School, Hillsboro Elementary School and Pocahontas County High School. The other two schools, Green Bank Elementary/Middle School and Marlinton Middle School will be receiving their funding for air conditioning from American Rescue Plan funds. Beam is cautiously optimistic the county will be awarded funds from the SBA on December 13th.
There were no delegations or informational reports, so the board moved right into approval of routine financial reports. They also approved a draw of $169,624.59 from their Pendleton Bank loan to pay for new LED lighting in all the schools. That loan will be repaid by the energy cost savings those lights will create. They approved a Management Representation Letter concerning their State single audit as of June 30, 2021 which includes a fee of $24,900.
The members also took action on the following miscellaneous matters:
- They accepted the bid of $250,000 from Robert A. Sheets to purchase their 96.4-acre unneeded property in Green Bank, authorizing the Superintendent to transfer the deed. They said that this money will be placed in the budget to be used for preventative maintenance and emergency repairs at school facilities.
- They authorized a Clinical Teacher of Record Program Agreement with Fairmont State University.
- The members approved an overnight trip by the PCHS VEX Robotics Team using private vehicle to Martinsburg, WV leaving February 4, 2022 and returning on February 5, 2022 for a VRC Competition. Associated fees will be paid for by the PCHS Stem Club.
- They voted to approve an additional list of parent and community volunteers for the current school year.
- And they approved the recommended service and professional personnel actions.
During their Matters of the Board discussion, Sam Gibson praised Hillsboro Elementary School for having 69 students with no disciplinary violations. Sue Hollandsworth also praised the job done by the Hillsboro staff, and John Burns expressed satisfaction that the Green Bank property has finally been sold.
You can find the recommended list of personnel actions and the proposed list of parent and community volunteers by clicking on this link to the officially published agenda for this meeting –11-30-21 BOE Official Agenda PDF