School board hears Paw Paw residents’ concerns
A group of Paw Paw citizens expressed concerns about several issues at the August 7 Morgan County School Board.
Children had been denied admittance to Paw Paw Schools, parents had bus stop and communications issues and residents had concerns about the school losing good teachers.
School bus driver John Munson and wife Sharon Munson, Paw Paw Energy Express site coordinator, were upset because their daughter had been denied readmittance to Paw Paw Schools. She had attended Paw Paw Schools for eight years. Munson said he couldn’t understand why she couldn’t return to school.
Sharon Munson said they had nothing in writing about their daughter being denied admission, just a verbal statement. It was stressful that their daughter didn’t have a home school.
Jody McJilton, Paw Paw High School social studies teacher, said that his son was denied transferring to Paw Paw Schools. His son was turning 18 years old this week and would drop out of school if he wasn’t allowed to return to Paw Paw High School.
McJilton said that when Great Cacapon High School closed in the 1930s, Great Cacapon residents could choose whether they wanted to attend school in Paw Paw or in Berkeley Springs.
Paw Paw resident Donna Twigg wondered why Paw Paw Schools is denying students that want to attend there. The school is already small and has students attending from Allegany County and Hampshire County.
As taxpayers, Twigg felt parents should have the option of sending their kids wherever they feel is best for their child.
School Superintendent David Banks said that school principals have the right to deny students from attending.
Paw Paw Schools Principal Michelle Fleming said that every application for entry into Paw Paw Schools is evaluated by a committee and faculty on attendance, discipline and academics before it comes to her. If a child isn’t making adequate progress, it entitles a child for other options.
Twigg said that when her son transferred to Berkeley Springs High School, there was no committee evaluation. Fleming said she chose to have a committee involved.
Board member Eric Kidwell said that it sounded like a committee handled acceptance into the school and it was Fleming’s choice. Other principals may handle it differently.
Twigg felt it should be a committee situation and asked the school board for consistency in how it was handled at all schools.
Twigg also expressed concerns that teacher Jody McJilton was leaving. He was an excellent and respected teacher who really helped her son learn, she said. Twigg said it was hard to keep good teachers in Paw Paw.
Richard White, a substitute teacher, also spoke highly of McJilton, who had taught White’s son well and helped him with his lessons. McJilton made himself available to students. White had been there 10 years and said he was tired of seeing good teachers leave.
Kathy Wilson said McJilton had really helped her daughter. He was a good mentor and took time to talk with students that had anger. She said he saw the potential in those children.
Bus stop issue
Resident Jennifer Wolfe complained about not getting multiple phone calls returned regarding her bus stop request. Her children had been approved for Energy Express but didn’t attend because bus arrangements couldn’t be made. Wolfe called it a serious breakdown in communications.
Wolfe said she hired a babysitter last year to pick up her children at a bus stop even though they didn’t need one. This year she would have to leave work three hours early for a two- minute trip to get her kids if something couldn’t be worked out.
Wolfe said that Assistant Superintendent Joan Willard had just returned her phone call and said that someone would review her bus stop request.
Board member John Rowland asked if Wolfe called the board office as well as the transportation office. Wolfe listed a few mid-July and early August calls to both locations, but said she didn’t keep track of the initial ones.
Former Transportation Director John Gue resigned at the end of June. The school board approved Warm Springs Intermediate School Principal Joyce Ott as the new Director of Transportation and Safety at the meeting.