By Stephen Smoot
Last week, the Pendleton County Board of Education held its final meeting for the month of February. To kick off the meeting, Nicole Hevener discussed the school system’s plans for National School Counselors’ Week. “Each day of the school calendar has been highlighted with a bio about them,” she stated.
She then updated the board on personnel changes, saying “I am thankful to say no resignations and no retirements.” The board then approved all of the proposed hires of staff, teachers, and volunteers.
- P. Mowery provided the financial update. He went over each of the bills for the board, noting that “I can’t say enough about Southern States of Moorefield” in terms of providing fuel. “They’ve treated us pretty well,” he added. Mowery followed that with a discussion of the county’s recent success in winning funding. “We have now more individual grants of various sizes than we’ve ever had.” He said that perhaps 75 grants currently supported county school and related operations. “We have more vocational funding than we’ve ever had,” Mowery added.
The HOPE Scholarship’s impact on the growth of education alternatives will not affect county school funding under the state’s formula. Mowery explained in detail how the state helps sparsely populated counties to not experience a penalty from declining enrollments of Pendleton or similar counties. The policy establishes a funding floor of $1,400 per student for counties with lower student numbers, which ends up being “good for the folks with HOPE Scholarships and good for the school system.”
He then highlighted key parts of the budget to explain different programs and projects. The school system, for instance, signed up for a service called Thrillshare. This program, offered by a company named “Apptegy,” provides next generation communications capabilities between teachers, staff, students, and others.
Mowery also shared costs of renovations of school owned buildings. Travis Heavner later explained that the biggest project was still the Lovegrove building in which the school system will move its meetings and other operations. “The Shreve boys have been in there finishing up. They were almost done with the large board room and office.” Heavner added that they should “have the flooring knocked out by the end of the week.”
Additionally, he reported on “the floor of the C. A. N. building that we need to replace.” He stated that they needed to set the dates for that work and that “moisture has eaten that floor up. We’ll fix it the right way this time.” The school system saved some money in replacing the North Fork Elementary School bleachers by using leftover parts from another project.
That led to the mention of an ongoing problem in some schools, that “the biggest issue now is people spilling on the bleachers.” The mess that leaks through “wreaks havoc on our floors.” It was mentioned that at one point food and drinks were not permitted in the gyms, but “you can’t police eating and drinking.”
The single largest item in the budget came from the school lunch program, which cost approximately $500,000. Mowery explained that “it’s a very large program. Feeding children is very important.”
Superintendent Charles Hedrick related to the board that “right now, we’re okay” in terms of not needing to infringe upon spring break or the start of summer. He warned that “it could change if we have additional snow days or two-hour delays, but as of now, it’s okay.”
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