By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Senatorial Education Forum, school wide showcases, County Day Report agreement, employment, and resignations were just a few of the items on the agenda for the Tucker County Board of Education meeting that commenced March 18.
Following President Tim Turner’s call to order and The Pledge of Allegiance, he read a text he had received stating, “You are cordially invited to the fourteenth Senatorial District Educational Town Hall. Please join Barbour, Grant, Hardy, Mineral, Preston, Taylor, and Tucker Counties at Tucker County High School Auditorium March 26, 6 to 8 p.m., to discuss educational issues that affect the public school,” read Turner. Registration begins at 5:30 p.m. for this event.
Principal of TCHS Stephen Cosner proceeded with his presentation announcing a CTE and school wide showcase taking place on April 4 from 6 to 8 p.m. CTE (Vocational Course) completers will have their portfolios on display and industry representatives have been invited in hopes to make some possible career connections. This event will cover all aspects of education and will include scheduled performances from the performing arts groups. As Cosner finished, Turner redirected, asking “The math scores on last year’s testing were not that good, and I think the prior year they might not have been that good, so we kind of like to know what’s been different this year to bring up math scores and that for the testing this year.” Cosner responded, “We are working very hard on data, we are gathering data daily, we have weekly PLC meetings with our math crew, I’m in there,” he began. He also continued stating they are working on remediation methods, assigning kids to SPL’s and keeping track of all kids’ progress. “We did get on our scores last year, we didn’t make the cut we were supposed to, but they were, we did get a comment they made progress,” but he’s hopeful for even more this year. Turner also informed Cosner the Board has concern regarding TCHS scheduling and would like Cosner to report on that in the near future and said the Board has some strong thoughts on items needing addressed.
Teresa Brusak, TVEMS Principal, gave an update on the schools happenings since the last meeting. Due to internet issues, she had no score updates to present. There had been recent PTO meetings regarding fundraising and another meeting is scheduled to discuss teacher appreciation. “We thought we were finished with our strategic plan for the CSI money, but it needs modified again,” she said. The WVU Mountaineer will be visiting on March 26 and last week TVEMS 8th grade STEAM students put on a hallway parade with their moving machines for the entire school to witness. Brusak stated the first ever Tornado Drill will be conducted soon, explaining any weather related drills being classified as a code white.
Vice Principal Kelly Thompson added a writing and professional development workshop being held on March 29 as well as May 24 training as a “morale booster”. Thompson is also encouraging those interested to attend training in June in Charleston for the teachers on the PBIS committee (Positive Behavior). Board member Cathy Hebb asked Thompson how the students are reacting to this positive behavior programs which has benefits for those who meet the requirements. Thompson responded, “Middle school is always a challenge, so I’m really curious to see this,” adding they have some games and activities planned to hopefully encourage their participation. Brusak added, “This was a struggling year,” in regards to the positive behavior program. Her goal for next year is to have all the rewards planned in advance so they can promote those rewards all year so the students get excited and know what they are working towards. Brusak then commended the Kindergarten students on their recent membrane activity involving eggs. Prior to the conclusion of the TVEMS update, Hebb asked what the students who didn’t meet the criteria to attend the PBIS rewards do during that time. Thompson explained, “They do what we call retraining,” where Thompson and Brusak take the students and help them understand why they aren’t participating in the reward and helps them reach that goal next time. That time can also be used for completing missing work and catching on up classroom assignments.
Jonathan Hicks, Food Service Director distributed data regarding the current meal counts and the federal reimbursements from the last three years. According to Hicks, the meal counts are up around five hundred, which is mostly contributed from Tucker Valley. As of current, the federal reimbursements are around $52,000 ahead of where they have been in previous years. Hicks explained the federal reimbursement rate is substantially higher than the paid rate of a parent or guardian. For elementary and middle school meals, the rate is $1.45 and high school is $1.85 whereas the state reimburses for the free meal students at a rate of $3.33, which is where the surplus is coming from. “All and all I’m pretty encouraged about where we’re at with it,” Hicks said. Superintendent Alicia Lambert added, “We still have $32,664.25 outstanding in lunch bills from previous bills that have not been paid”. Hicks stated his goal is to be able to offer this free meal program to the high school next year if financially capable. Board Member Chris Gross asked where this money goes back to, to which Hicks explained a lot goes back to paying the cook staffs’ salaries and the cost of the food. He added the dishwasher at TVEMS is the original model and has been having issues, and would cost around $30,000 to replace. A grant was applied for to cover this cost, unfortunately it was unsuccessful. Hicks continued explaining this was their audit and review year, which happens every three years which he said went very well, with high regards to the salad bar quality.
The transportation report was reviewed and there was an update on the departure time for the TCHS Senior Class trip to Six Flags Maryland. There were no discussion items and the March 4 meeting minutes were approved. The payment of bills and budget adjustments were reviewed and approved as were the out of state trip requests. It was noted in regards to Mrs. Gafner’s PreK Class rip to the Children’s Museum in Pittsburg, Pa. on April 25 is pending school bus availability. In the case a bus is not available, the class will be taking private vehicles to their destination. The Highlands Trail Foundation submitted a letter of request to use a school bus and driver on Saturday, September 14, 2019 for a trip. Lambert will be investigating the charges associated with doing such, though she believes currently they only charge for gas and the driver. The request to approve Penneco Environment Services in Montrose, WV as a job shadow site was also approved.
Under additional business, it was noted for April 17, 2019 to serve as a make-up snow day for February 19. A motion was made by Hebb and second by Board Member Chris Gross to approve Teresa Brusak as the Academic Coach at TVEMS, effective for the 2019-2020 school year. Board Member Jessica Wamsley expressed concern for her serving as both principal and academic coach, however it was noted Brusak would be resigning as TVEMS principal to take on this new position. Shane Eakle submitted his resignation as assistant football coach and head track coach at TCHS effective June 30 with all in favor. Under employment, it was recommended to hire Tracy Harlan as the Title I Director for Tucker County Schools, followed by an unpaid leave request at the fulfillment of paid leave days for Kimberly Welsh, all in favor.
The February 2019 Financial Statements were reviewed noting there is approximately $831,000 to last through the end of June. Discussion commenced for the purchase of a 2019 Chevrolet Silverado in the amount of $28,000. Approximately $10,000 was received from insurance; therefore $18,000 will be financed through Preston Federal Credit Union for three years.
Revisiting the Memorandum of Understanding from the Tucker County Day Report agreement with Tucker County Schools, a motion was made by Hebb to approve this relationship and offering of counseling services with a second by Vice President “Chopper” Evans. Turner commented he discussed this with School Counselor Ronda Adkins who felt this would be a good asset to the school systems, noting a greater need at TCHS and DTEMS due to her scheduling. Lambert said, “Let her (Amy Cummings) know she’s welcome in all our schools”. Community Correction Director Dustin Luzier commented, “If we don’t do prevention and outreach with these kids, in ten years whenever they’re adults we’re going to see them in our center anyway.” Luzier added several of the students they feel they need to reach his department are already working with their parents. Luzier hopes with this initiative they can break that cycle. It was also noted all students seeking these services will only be able to do so with parental consent.
This meeting was adjourned which was followed by a special meeting to review the 2019-2020 Schedule of proposed Levy Rates. Turner read the figures relating to the different classifications, which included no taxable property in class one, class two consisted of farms, with an increased levy $31,036, class three outside municipalities down $12,128. Class four inside municipalities down $16,756 resulting in the net amount set to be raised by levy of property taxes is up $2,047 over last year read Turner. “This is just a matter of formality we have to approve this, we don’t set the rates and we don’t affect the amounts,” clarified Turner. All was in favor and the meeting was adjourned.
The next meeting will take place on Monday, April 1 at the Davis Thomas Elementary Middle school beginning at 4:30 p.m.