by Kate Evans
The Morgan County School Board passed a resolution approving the transfer of all RESA 8 property and assets to the Eastern Panhandle Instructional Cooperative (EPIC) effective on July 1. The action came at their February 20 meeting, which was held at Widmyer Elementary for their local school improvement council (LSIC) presentation.
EPIC, an educational services cooperative, will replace RESA 8 after the agency dissolves on June 30. All RESA 8 property, equipment and records will be transferred to EPIC as of July 1.
All eight county boards of education from RESA 8, which covers Morgan, Berkeley, Jefferson, Hampshire, Grant, Mineral, Pendleton and Hardy Counties, approved an agreement to form the Eastern Panhandle Instructional Cooperative (EPIC) on November 16. The counties will continue sharing essential resources and services through the EPIC educational services cooperative that were offered by RESA 8.
All RESAs (Regional Education Services Agencies) across West Virginia dissolve on June 30 due to House Bill 2711.
Back in school
School Superintendent Erich May announced the end to the nine-day statewide teacher and service personnel walkout at the meeting. Students and staff in Morgan County and across West Virginia returned to school the following day, Wednesday, March 7.
Widmyer Elementary Principal Rhett Beckman expressed his appreciation to the school board and May for their support during the strike and said it had been a very stressful time for everyone.
“It meant a lot that you’ve been out there supporting us,” Beckman said.
Board weighs in
School board member Pete Gordon extended his appreciation to all teachers, service personnel, school staff and the community who supported them during the walkout. All were dedicated to students having the best education possible, which school officials can’t provide unless they have the best qualified staff.
Gordon also recognized Superintendent May for his leadership, hard work and understanding during the walkout. He said that the strike created the tone for the rest of the country to be providing decent and affordable health care and respecting all public employees.
Board member John Rowland had prepared comments but said Gordon expressed his and the board’s sentiments well. Board member Laura Smith said she appreciated May understanding their late night texts during the situation.
May again praised local teacher union leaders Tony McDonald and Amy Penner and service personnel union leader Roger Steiner for their information, communicativeness and cooperation throughout the walkout.
May was very appreciative that staff posted their absences without pay during the strike so they had information about staffing for the next day. They didn’t have to do that, he noted.
May also expressed his gratefulness to parents, grandparents, families and the community for their patience and support, for the Governor’s leadership, to Delegate Daryl Cowles and Senator Charles Trump, who did their part in resolving the crisis, and to everyone that helped them get through it.
Penner, who is the Morgan County Educators Association president, extended local unions’ appreciation to the board for their support and patience and to May for his leadership and understanding. Penner said Morgan County is a great place to live and work and that they were all looking forward to getting back to business and to their students.
Athletic committee report
Director Jamie Harris said the athletic committee met on February 28 and considered a Paw Paw Schools request to turn two vacant baseball coaching jobs into assistant track coaching positions. The committee decided to see what the track numbers were in two weeks and if there were more than 12 students they approved posting one assistant coaching position.
Harris said the committee also recognized the Berkeley Springs High School wrestling program and state champion Davy Mundey, state runner-up Tanner Clark. Fourth place winner Zach Davis and fifth place winner Ethan Zimmerman. They noted that the team finished in third place in Class AA standings, which was the highest finish since 2011. The committee also recognized the successful boys’ basketball season for Berkeley Springs High School (16-5) and Paw Paw High School (15-7) with Paw Paw winning their first round sectional game 88-57.
School Treasurer Ann Bell gave her mid-year financial review presentation at the meeting.
The school board went into executive session at the end of their meeting to discuss a student privacy issue.