By Stephen Smoot
On a day in which icy winds and accumulating snow had prevented school from running, the Pendleton County Board of Education held its regular meeting.
Before the light agenda, attendees recited the Pledge of Allegiance, then heard the invocation from J.D. Wilkins, board president. He stated, “Mighty God, we thank You for bringing us here safely.”
First, the board accepted resignations “with regret,” a statement that indicates a long tenure of dedicated and capable service. Resignations were accepted from Dave Ellis, athletic trainer, and Teresa Heavner, board of education member.
In treasurer J. P. Mowery’s report, he touched on two important points. First, the board followed his recommendation to move $350,000 from the long term substitute fund into the category used to pay full time professional faculty.
He also delved into electric costs. In the 2020 to 2021 school year, the entire school system spent $244,000 on electric power. The subsequent year, the costs rose to $256,000 and in the school year 2022 to 2023, $260,000. Mowery pointed out that, despite the gradual rise in costs, the school system had accomplished a key goal.
County schools usage of electricity dropped over the same period of time, reducing the bite taken out by the effect of inflation and federal regulations on the cost of energy. Mowery explained, “Certainly, the state doesn’t fund for inflation.”
Next, Travis Heavner gave an update on facilities and maintenance. He reported that he met with a Charleston based company that specializes in adding tinted window coverings for enhanced security. They install a product from 3M called Safety and Security film. It adds tint to prevent those outside from seeing into classrooms, gives windows added strength against blunt objects or gunshots, and keeps glass from shattering apart.
According to 3M, the films “are designed to mitigate hazards from shattered glass due to natural or human causes,” by preventing highly dangerous “flying glass shards.” It also acts in “hindering anyone trying to break and enter through a broken door or window.”
The film also “blocks harmful UV rays.”
Heavner explained the limits of the product, saying, “It’s not bulletproof. It can withstand a few rounds without the glass shattering.” He said it also offers “insulating properties” to help save on climate control costs.
He then discussed issues needing addressed on the North Fork Elementary School campus, including heating issues in the lower end of the school and also replacing the letters of the sign on the Harold Michael Community Building.
Of the heating problem, Heavner said, “We’ve made some adjustments and we hope that will help.” They also spent $1,700 to install a new wireless scoreboard control system in the Harold Michael Community Building gymnasium. While the scoreboard itself still functions properly, the control box failed. Due to its advanced age, it could neither be repaired or replaced.
The board finally heard from Heavner on a student achievement update. He shared that the next benchmark tests, scheduled for Feb. 2, but may require adjustment due to snow days.
Also, those participating in the county science fair in the elementary school division received the unpleasant news that the state had scheduled the regional fair early and on the same date as the county fair. Heavner said he would work with officials to ensure that Pendleton County winning participants could advance.
During his superintendent’s update, Charles Hedrick informed the board that as of the day of the meeting, Pendleton County had used six of 10 possible days for inclement weather. He stated that once the 10 were used, that the county would have to start cutting from spring break to make up the state mandated number of instructional days.