By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
In true Tucker County fashion, the Board of Education takes pride in recognizing the students who receive any form of achievement. Due to COVID-19, the BOE did not get the chance to recognize the Academic Fair Winners from the 2019-2020 school year. These events included Math Field Day, Social Studies Fair, and Young Writers.
The students were invited to attend the September 8 meeting where they gathered outside the Board of Education Office where Superintendent Alicia Lambert, alongside the board members, announced the winners and presented them with a certificate. Winners of the Math Field Day included: fourth grade: Josh Moore, Brayden Bennett, and Peyton Cross; fifth grade: Lela Wright, Aaron Frymyer, and Liam Davis; sixth grade: Sadie Ends, Xander Lambert, and Lynk Suesli; seventh grade: Malia Cussins, Damian Rhodes, and Reagan Herron; and eight grade: Jacob Lower, Laney Burns, and Tabitha Adams.
Winners of the Social Studies Fair were: World History Reid Kisamore, Ava Shaffer, and Isabella Bennett; Economics: Mayah Gross, Tim Uphold, and Emma Cooper; Anthropology: Gage McCullough, and Cole Carr; U.S. History: Coy Veal, Moira Callaway, and Nitehi Long; Sociology: Alma Watson and Hannah Cussins; State and Local Studies: Emerson Cangley and Allison Liller; Psychology: Kobe Bever; World History Groups: Alyssa Darby and Autumn Zirk, Carlie Harper and Andie Cartwright, David Kopcik and Andrew Moats; State and Local Studies Groups: Brooklyn Ball and Justin Robeson; Political Science Groups: Kiley Hebb and Ericka Zirk, Eden Burton and James Felts; Anthropology Groups: Abby Kitzmiller and Rachel Felton, Maddox Anderson and Kaiden Hebb, Kenzie Darby and Kyriah Hall.
Young Writer awards included third and fourth grade: Rachel Hile, fifth and sixth grade: Isabella Emerson, and seventh and eighth grade: Malia Cussins, Kimber Auvil, and Kyriah Hall. Lambert thanked the students and their families for attending and congratulated everyone on their achievements.
The meeting went into regular session with President Tim Turner calling the meeting to order with all members present. The board acknowledged the attendance exemptions presented, which included notifications of intent to homeschool nine students from Tucker Valley, five from Davis Thomas, and one from Tucker County High School. Turner requested that Attendance Director Amber Kyle give a brief update at the next meeting relating to the number of students who have elected to homeschool for this school year prior to her elaborate report that will be given after the official count on October 1. Lambert noted that thus far, 46 students have appeared on the agenda with additional notices coming in frequently. Vice President Daniel “Chopper” Evans stated, “I assume the state’s going to take everything into consideration this year because of everything,” which Lambert agreed she hopes so. She confirmed though that all counties are experiencing the same situation.
Lambert visited all three schools today and was pleased to announce everything went very well, though with so few students in attendance due to the phased re-entry plan, it did not feel like a typical first day. “The kids that were there, they were doing really well, they were adhering to the new policies and learning the new procedures,” she stated, “It was a good first day.” The devices are being assigned as the parents are signing the release, though these are not mandatory if students feel they have ample technology at home.
Consent agenda items, consisting of minutes from the August 17 meeting, payment of bills, and student transfer requests were approved with a motion by Evans and a second by Board Member Jessica Wamsley with all in favor.
Under personnel, Lambert recommended the employment of Amy Moore, substitute teacher, Anita Helmick, Christina Dotson, Alex Cork, Chelsi Demastes, and Jonathan Martin as ELA extra-curricular intervention specialist and distance learning teacher itinerants. Board Member Cathy Hebb made a motion to approve as presented with a second by Wamsley. Lambert announced that, after two postings, there had been no applicants for the elementary and middle school positions that were created at the last meeting. “Right now we only have one student on the cusp of needing that,” she confirmed, though other avenues to accommodate this student are being sought.
Turner exited the room as Lambert recommended the employment of Phyllis Turner as a substitute teacher and Kathy DiBacco as a substitute school nurse. Wamsley and Hebb made the motions with all in favor. It was always recommended to hire Jack Mullenax as a substitute bus operator pending certification along with Jameson Hardy as a volunteer assistant football coach at TCHS pending certification and background check. All board members voted in favor of these recommendations.
The July Financial Statement was presented by Finance Director Tracy Teets. She explained the statement being the first of the fiscal year and pointed out a new fund entitled Federal Stimulus and Stabilization Fund which is required by the state to place the money received for COVID-19. Teets also announced that an additional $56,141 was received from state aid for enrollment, which is based on the birth rate within the county. “I don’t expect that we’ll get to keep that money,” she stated as a result in the decrease in enrollment. This fund will be set aside until it is confirmed in the instance it needs to be returned.
Hebb then asked, “How are we going to handle the deficit we’re going to have when we’re minus the money for all the homeschoolers if they don’t come back?” Teets responded, “We’re still based on Pocahontas County’s numbers, I’ve asked them what their enrollment is and he said it’s declining, so I don’t know yet how that’s going to affect their funding for next year.” She continued, “We’re obviously going to take a hit this year financially speaking, but we have a little bit saved up.” Unfortunately, some of the proposed projects may be postponed.
On the topic of finance, Lambert also made the board members aware of a recent grant that was received thanks to Brian Adkins, bus driver and local business owner, that provided additional cleaning supplies and sanitizing agents to all three schools. “We are really blessed to have those employees and community members that are willing to step up and fill those voids, that’s really the best thing about small towns,” said Lambert.
Lambert then went through the memorandums of understanding and agreements with the Genesis Youth Crisis Center, Youth Health Services, Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education Services, and Clear View Vision Services, which are addressed on an annual basis. She made known that no additional visitors are being permitted within the facilities, only those necessary.
Wamsley asked about the incoming Genesis Center students and the risk of exposure. Lambert explained that they are working with James Snyder, of the Tucker County Health Department, to come up with a plan to try and avoid the virus. “So if the kids are coming from another shelter, they’re probably less likely to have contracted something from a typical child transferring from another county,” she stated. It has been requested that each case be handled on an individual basis and to take into consideration which county they are transferring in from and the status of that area. “If they are transferring from a home or a hot spot location, we ask that they quarantine them for 14 days before sending them into the schools,” she continued. Genesis students will also continue to ride their own buses to and from school to aid in the prevention of contact.
Turner then asked for a motion to approve the goals for the 2020-2021 fiscal year as set by the superintendent and board of education. Board Member Chris Gross made a motion to approve the goals as presented with Evans making a second. All members were in unanimous agreement.
With this concluding the necessary business for the TCBOE, the meeting was adjourned. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 21 at 4:30 p.m. at the Board Office. Masks will be required for all those in attendance.