Schools Prepare for Distance Learning for Remainder of School Year

With Governor Justice making the announcement to close schools for the remainder of the school year, Tucker County Superintendent Alicia Lambert and staff are working to determine how to best continue educating the students of the county.

By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate

A Zoom meeting was held for the recent gathering of the Tucker County Board of Education after the announcement from Governor Justice that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. This does not mean school is over for the year, it simply indicates the buildings will be closed, but learning will continue via non-traditional methods. Parents should keep up to date with their child’s teacher to collaborate on how to move forward.
All members were present at this meeting which began with TCHS Counselor Katalin Moore briefing the board on how she has kept in touch with the high school students. “I have set up virtual office hours for kids to reach me from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. every day,” she began. A website, www.TCHSCounseling.com, has been set up as well as a TCHS Counselors Corner Facebook page to offer different options of contact.
Superintendent Alicia Lambert offered additional COVID-19 inormation, stating, “The Governor has closed schools, we are going to continue with distant learning, it does not mean that the school year is over.” The schools will be coordinating with James Snyder with the Tucker County Health Department to determine a safe approach to allowing some staff in their classrooms at times during the week to allow teachers to video or stream lessons for students capable of watching. “We will continue to handout packets during Fridays when we do food deliveries and we can mail them to kids who do not come to get their food and request them,” she added. Board member Cathy Hebb asked if this service would be offered until the scheduled end of the school year, which Lambert confirmed it would. She admitted that it is also unknown at this time if school will begin on time in August and this time will allow the schools to prepare for what may lie ahead.
Board member Jessica Wamsley stated that some students are concerned over their grades and students who were on academic probation at the time of school closures. Lambert announced that each county has been made responsible for determine how they wish to track and handle those situations, but stated, “Right now, what they’re going by is their grades are what their grades were on March 16 when school closed, so those students who were failing on March 16, they are being sent credit recovery packets or online credit recovery work so they can get their grades pulled up.” She continued, “We’re told what work we’re doing right now through the end of the month cannot hurt a student’s grade, it can only help a student’s grade.” This fact may change once the superintendents discuss how they plan to address the schools remaining closed throughout the remainder of the year.
Moving onto discussion items, Lambert had developed an early graduation policy proposal and sent to the board members. Discussion commenced relating to the wording and requirements that is listed within the policy. Changes will be made by Lambert as a result of the conversation and resubmitted to the board for another review.
The consent agenda items were approved as presented followed by Lambert making the following recommendations for reduction in force: Ronda Adkins, school counselor, and Kimberly Wamsley, school nurse, followed by Lamberts recommendation to transfer both Adkins and Wamsley. Both recommendations passed unanimously. It was then recommended by Lambert continue the following contracts for the 2020/2021 school year: Amber Evans, science teacher at DTEMS, Melissa Tauscher, gifted, Stephen Strothers, .5 computer science and virtual coordinator at TCHS, and Tina Carr, special education and job coach at TCHS with all members in favor with Vice President Daniel “Chopper” Evans abstaining. It was also recommended to approve the following probationary contracts: Hannah Evans, second grade teacher TVEMS, Nathaniel Goldstein, special education DTEMS, Catherine Chambers, CTE math TCHS, Kimberly Wamsley, school nurse, Matthew Lawrence, social studies TVEMS, Paul Pennington, agriculture and carpentry TCHS, James Gilbert, first grade TVEMS, Christine O’Brien, first and second grade split DTEMS, Kimberly Welsh, match TVEMS, Ernie Gooding, assistant principal TVEMS, Katalin Moore, counselor TCHS, Alyssa Hanna, biology TCHS, Tara Dilly, fourth grade TVEMS, Donna Akins, special education TVEMS, Miranda Grace, .5 interventionist and special education DTEMS, Michael Lamb, automotive technology TCHS, and Emily Thompson, interventionist TVEMS. Evans made a motion to approve with a second by Wamsley and all in agreement.
Service personnel continuing contract recommendations included Kevin Gill, cook DTEMS, Craig Hyre, kindergarten aid TVEMS, Scott Lycliter, maintenance, Felicia Goldizen, payroll coordinator, and Lisa Corbitt, pre-k aid TVEMS. Service probationary contract recommendations included Stormie Meloy, prek aid TVEMS, Jenny Lipscomb, cook TVEMS, Steve Frymyer, maintenance, Richard Hull, custodian DTEMS, Mary Ellen Brown, custodian TVEMS. All members were in unanimous agreement to approve as recommended by Lambert.
Financial and budget statements were provided by Finance Director Tracy Teets. She explained that a lot of the changes as a result of the COVID-19 school closures will be visible on the April statements. It is also being negotiated to potentially reduce the cost of the schools worker compensation premium due to the reduced risk presented given the circumstances. Even though substitute teacher costs are non-existent at this time, unemployment costs are on the rise. “We’re kind of a pay as you go for unemployment, so we don’t pay premiums and then the carrier takes the risk of whether our premiums cover the costs of that unemployment,” Teets explained. “We basically pay what the employment that is paid out,” she said. The day to day subs are eligible to file for unemployment which will offset the decrease in sub costs.
According to U.S. News and World Report, Tucker County High School received a rating that went out Friday, placing TCHS 24 out of 111 ranked schools within W.Va. with an overall score of 71.62 out of 100. The scorecard indicated that, of the 303 enrolled at the time of the survey, 21% took at least one AP exam, 9% passed at least one AP exam, 26 tested proficiency in math, 51% were proficient in reading, and a graduation score of 95%. On a national level, TCHS ranked 5,050 out of 17,792 nationally ranked schools.
The board then went into a special session to approve the 2020-2021 levy order and rate sheet. Evans made the motion to accept with a second by Wamsley and all in unanimous agreement. The next meeting of the Tucker County Board of Education is scheduled for Monday, May 4 at 4:30 p.m. and will remain virtual until further notice.

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