By Stephen Smoot
As the hearts and thoughts of the community focused on celebrating Christmas, the Pendleton County Board of Education held its final meeting of the year on Dec. 20.
The group was in high spirits, enjoying a potluck dinner and discussing the accomplishments of the Pendleton County High School basketball teams before settling into business.
After the Pledge of Allegiance and opening prayer, Charles Hedrick, Pendleton County Schools superintendent, revealed student honorees at Pendleton County High School for November and December. These included Hannah Harvey who was November James Huffman Responsible Student of the Month, Lindsey Smith who was November Academic Student of the Month, Taylor Wimer who was December James Huffman Responsible Student of the Month, and Selena Hedrick who was December Student of the Month.
New business centered around a proposal to add 150 bleachers to the seating section of the Franklin Elementary School gym. One quote already submitted set a price of $42,096 for four rows of 70-foot-long bleachers. Hedrick expressed disappointment, saying “it should be better than this.”
Because of the expected benefit to both the school and the community, he recommended that the board approve the purchase at that price or better. The board supported that unanimously. Board member Sonny O’Neil said that “as youth leagues go to the elementary school, it’s going to be a win – win.” He then added “it’s going to be well received by the community.”
The fourth month attendance report was tabled due to questions over how student absences get entered into the system, or are coded. The state requires that schools provide reasons for student absences. Certain codes prevent the student’s absence from being counted against the school. Schools in other areas unwittingly coded some absences improperly, leading to them being wrongly penalized in the system.
RESA 8, the state’s regional education office, has been advising schools on how to avoid problems in coding. J. D. Wilkins, president of the Pendleton County Board of Education, commented that “our attendance has been okay, but now it should get better.”
Hedrick followed up by reporting on a potential new tool to boost student achievement on the SAT and improve chances to earn the state’s PROMISE scholarship. Horizons Education, he explained, gives tests that can break down student weaknesses and provide advice for improvement.
The superintendent then reviewed a new partnership with Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College and the West Virginia Department of Education. He said later that “the goal is to have students exit high school with a minimum of one year of college credit hours toward a bachelor’s degree in education. We plan on beginning implementation at the start of the next school year.”
According to the state department of education’s information on the program, the program “will enable high school students who want to become classroom teachers to fast-track into their careers,” to help “address West Virginia’s critical teacher shortage.”
O’Neil requested that staff and others write letters of support to the delegates and senators who represent Pendleton County. These letters would urge state financial support for the Communities in Schools program, which runs on grant funding. The organization, known as CIS for short, started in the 1970s in New York City under founder Bill Milliken. The mission, according to the website, lies in “bringing community resources inside public schools – where they are accessible, coordinated, and accountable.”
The organization already works with partners to help children in West Virginia. Last year, Communities in Schools partnered with the West Virginia National Guard and the Office of First Lady Cathy Justice to deliver 8,000 presents to children in need in 36 counties.
Finally, the board praised Dave Eason and others from Pendleton County High School. Eason, who serves as athletic director and dean of students, responded quickly when he heard word of a Randolph County school bus experiencing a flat tire as it ferried the girls’ basketball team to Franklin. Eason was joined by area residents Dan and Chuck Miller who also volunteered to help. The Randolph County Superintendent of Schools personally thanked Eason and the others for their help in getting the bus back on the road as quickly as possible.