By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Board of Education President Tim Turner called the meeting to order prior to the reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance. There were no citizens input at this meeting, therefore TVEMS Principal Teresa Brusak provided her routine update. She informed the board she had recently performed a student engagement survey in a non-traditional manner where she and Vice Principal Kelly Thompson performed the evaluation versus a team. Brusak provided a copy of the reports to the board members with a graph of the findings as to how much student engagement is currently being witnessed in the classroom. “So each month we’re going to put this out so the teachers know where they are”, Brusak stated. She included an email to the educators with several tips on how to increase engagement and requested teachers share their ideas with each other as well. This report was done as a school, not based on any individual performance. “This is just meant to give an overall picture, not for each teacher to have to defend what they were doing at that time”, she added.
Test scores were discussed next. “Our first state benchmarking scores were very, very low”, Brusak continued. She stated some third graders were so stressed over the lack of understanding of the test, they actually cried. She informed the board there was some confusion and several changes made by the state regarding the benchmark testing procedures, which resulted in inconsistencies in approaches made by each teacher. Because of this, the data isn’t comparable to determine a truly accurate score; however, she stated, “No matter how you look at it they’re not where we want them”. Teachers have been instructed to use the item reviewer as frequently as possible to prepare students better for these standardized assessments, though it was noted some teachers are resisting doing such for fear it will take too much time out of their schedule. Brusak and Thompson are continuing to encourage teachers to do this daily and are assisting in methods to assist the teachers to do so.
TVEMS has also been working on a five year plan for Math for Life as a result of a $10,000 grant, designed to increase math scores. Brusak provided several creative ideas to engage children in math with suggestions like a math game night, poster contests, or placemat activities at local restaurants the students can compete for prizes. Pocahontas County Schools are also doing a program Brusak feels is being successful and hopes to join. A literacy night is also being planned for March. The theme will be super heroes and Brusak hopes several students and parents will attend the event.
Brusak also provided a brief list as the result of a CSI observation that she felt were quick, simple fixes they are addressing within her school. She also took a moment to congratulate the school basketball team for their recent win over Petersburg by a twenty-six point margin. “We had team spirit galore; everybody mentioned they have never seen such a turnout for middle school before”, she exclaimed. Superintendent Alicia Lambert added, “I think there were over one hundred students there”, and reported they had provided an activity bus for students to attend the game.
Turner brought up the TCHS proposed cell phone policy that was discussed at the prior meeting. “We had started out asking the high school to bring to us a procedure, and I think after the last presentation, a poll of the members individually, it seemed like there was a lack of progress on that particular item”, Turner suggested. “It was a feeling that the board office would devise a procedure for the entire county”, he continued. Turner asked Lambert to gather samples to provide to each board member from other counties to aid in the compilation of a procedure that would meet the unique needs of Tucker County. The goal is to have the county policy finalized to include in the revised handbook before the school year takes up in the fall.
Kim Lipscomb and Jonathan Hicks, title nine representatives, attended training that day and noted this could be a slightly more stringent task than initially believed. Lambert stated, “Right now, schools are able to say if it happened outside of school hours, there’s nothing we can do about that, we can’t police that”. She continued, “They’re telling them that, that’s changing that if it happens outside of school hours but it’s effecting the child’s education during school, so you have to act”. This could result in a lot of legal issues requiring lawyers and the court system, so Lambert stated she feels, “We may need to take a stronger stance on cell phone usage in school for that reason”. She noted the State Department requests each county not restrict cell phones entirely, but rather teach the use of the technology and tools appropriately. It was asked if the upcoming procedure would include stipulations for teachers using their cell phones while in the classroom, to which it was stated it would be applicable to everyone.
The meeting moved into new business with the approval of the minutes from February 4, payment of bills, budget adjustments, out of state travel and field trips, and TCHS senior job shadow sites to include City of Elkins Water Department, Tucker County Solid Waste Authority, and Barb Funeral Home. Board member Cathy Hebb had a question about the approximate costs on the forms for the trip to Chick Quest in Ohio, which Lambert responded this trip is being covered by the STEM grant for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
It was requested for approval for the request for retirement of Tambra Hebb, second grade teacher at DTEMS and Laura Michele Felton, Title I Teacher at TVEMS, effective June 30, 2019. Cindy Joseph, eighth grade STEM teacher also submitted her resignation effective June 30, 2019. Motion was made by Vice President Chopper Evans, second by Hebb. There was one request for leave without pay for Emilee Amaro, motion made by Hebb and second by board member Jessica Wamsley. Under employment on the agenda, Lambert recommended Kelly Reed to be employed as an Extended Day Enrichment Teacher at TVEMS, as well as to retroactive Greg Hyre, TVEMS boy’s basketball coach, to December 14, 2018 for medical leave. A motion was made by Hebb and second by board member Chris Gross.
The January 2019 Financial Statement was agreed upon before discussing the upcoming February 25 work session devoted to performing the superintendent evaluation. Turner reviewed the document packet to his fellow board members to ensure clarity. It was noted that the location for April and May board meetings will differ from the routine board office room The April 1 meeting will be at DTEMS, April 16 at TCHS, and May 6 will be held at TVEMS.
There will be three make-up days to be scheduled due to inclement weather, which will be observed May 23, 24, and 28. TCHS baccalaureate will be May 23 at 6 p.m. at TCHS Auditorium with graduation at R.H. Armstrong Memorial Field on May 24, both at 6 p.m. TVEMS will host their eighth grade promotion on May 21 with their class trip to Kennywood commencing May 28. DTEMS will observe their eighth grade commencement on May 17, with their trip taking place May 20-22.
The next regular session of the Tucker County Board of Education will be held on Monday, March 4 at 4:30 p.m., taking place at the Board of Education Office