By Stephen Smoot
The Pendleton County Board of Education followed a busy agenda in its first June meeting starting, as always, with the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer from J. D. Wilkins, board president. He asked “Your blessings on all who have finished.”
First, the board reviewed end-of-year resignations and hires. Notable hires included Lori Moore as principal of Franklin Elementary School. She steps in for Barbara Whitecotton who accepted an administrative post within the county school system.
The board announced the new policy on open transfers of students. The West Virginia State Legislature passed bills that enable students to transfer to schools outside of their zone of residence. Pendleton County originally set a date of June 30 as the final date for submission of transfer requests, but the board agreed to extend that to July 31 just for 2023.
Exceptions to the transfer rules include excluding students who have demonstrated discipline, attendance. Classroom limits could also prevent approval of the transfer.
An honors course for geometry was also added by board decision.
The board also heard an attendance report for months nine and 10 of the school year. The entire system posted strong numbers, but North Fork Elementary School stood out. The North Fork first grade led all grades in the ninth month, but the same school’s second grade enjoyed 100 percent attendance for the final month of the year. Attendance overall fell in the last month, pulled down by the usual spike in senior absences in May.
Dolly Rexrode earned praise for the success of the skills development program that she administered. Fourteen students underwent training from local welders, fast food businesses, hardware stores and more. Charles Hedrick, superintendent, said “she has done a phenomenal job.”
The virtual education program, which served eight students this year, also received praise. Travis Heavner stated that all eight enjoyed successful years.
In facilities management, the board heard four separate bids on construction of a fieldhouse behind the school to serve outdoor athletic squads. All bids came in higher than the board and superintendent intended and were rejected. Board member Sonny O’Neil suggested that material costs may come down in the future, which would help to generate more acceptable bids.
The Pendleton County Middle/High School gymnasium painting, however, has moved forward. Heavner reported that “they started on Monday. We’re getting updates on the top, getting rid of that old green, and painting the door frames.” Board members inquired about the location of championship banners. Heavner responded, “Yes, I will check on that.”
Heavner also reported on the continuing saga of the alternate education building. The old structure was demolished easily. Construction of two sections of the new building was sourced to a Huttonsville Correctional Facility inmate training program. Delays in construction have pushed back the date of installation. Also, the height of the buildings and typical trucks for moving them exceeds the height of the exit gate. Heavner continues to seek out companies that can deliver the load.
- P. Mowery delivered reports on the financial health and spending of the school system. He highlighted the rise in county liability rates, but explained that the problems behind the rise came from situations in other counties forming the insurance pool in which Pendleton participates. Participation has always given Pendleton savings in the past.
He also shared information on individual expenditures. This included approximately $15,000 to provide Brandywine Elementary School with new locks, $3,575 for a virtual tutoring program, and $945 to repair band instruments at Franklin Elementary School, among others.
They also agreed to the renewal of the lease for the Christian Assistance Network. “I think it’s been a win-win for the board,” said Hedrick and the lease received unanimous approval.
A representative present from C.A.N. said, “Thank you for what you do.”