by KATE EVANS
Morgan County Schools is one of five West Virginia counties that were approved for the Mountain State Digital Literacy Pilot Program.
The other counties approved for the pilot program are Kanawha County, Clay County, Gilmer County and Marion County.
Morgan County Schools Superintendent Kristen Tuttle said it’s a five-year pilot project.
The digital literacy program involves teaching skills that include computer fundamentals, word processing, keyboarding, databases and spreadsheets, multimedia, online safety, coding fundamentals and internet usage and communications to grades k-12.
The goal is to prepare students with the skills they need to be successful in school, college and in their careers.
The Mountain State Digital Literacy Program uses Learning.com’s Easy Tech program.
Students choose an avatar and complete computer-based lessons along with discussions, activities and quizzes to learn digital skills. Kids’ scores have gone up that have been using Learning.com, Tuttle noted.
Their mission is closing the achievement gap, she said. Students have been out of school for six months now.
Tuttle said that MC After 3 grant funding was approved for Berkeley Springs High School. The MC After 3 program is now at three schools – Berkeley Springs High School, Warm Springs Middle School and Warm Springs Intermediate School.
The Morgan County School Board approved payment application #1 of $166,559 for the Warm Springs Middle School tennis courts to Craig’s Paving, Inc. as approved by Williamson Shriver Architects. The board’s action came at their August 4 meeting.
School board president Aaron Close said that the tennis courts project is moving along on schedule. There have been no issues so far other than rain. The seating is down and all the dirt was hauled away. Close estimated that some $20,000 in contingency funds would not be needed for the tennis courts construction. The estimated project cost is now around $335,000.
The school board approved the collaborative agreement at Widmyer Elementary with Little Learners Village for fiscal year 2020-2021 for an afterschool child care program for ages 5-12. Elementary Education Director Kandy Pentoney said that the agreement was the same as last year.
The board also okayed the pre-kindergarten collaborative contract with Head Start/EPIC for fiscal year 2020-2021. Pentoney said the pre-kindergarten drive-through registrations were successful. A lot of folks are still deciding about sending their kids. They may not know until the end of August or the beginning how many pre-kindergarten students they’ll have with the health situation.
The school board approved the agreement with Little Learners Village to provide meals for pre-kindergarten students for fiscal year 2020-2021. It also adopted the pre-kindergarten collaborative calendar for the 2020-2021 school year. Pentoney said that they are following the same calendar as Berkeley and Jefferson Counties.
The board tabled adopting county-wide pre-kindergarten goals as Pentoney requested. She said they were working on language manipulation and there are some concerns about chronic absences. She wanted to have data from the new school year before establishing the new pre-K goals.
The school board approved the contract for School Therapy Services to provide occupational and compensatory therapy services for the 2020-2021 school year. They also okayed the 2020-2021 professional staff development handbook.
The school board approved two small changes in its policy regarding substitutes in areas of critical need and shortage that it recently approved. The changes eliminated the line at the beginning of the policy that said guidance counselors could not be designated as areas of critical need and shortage and added guidance counselors as the 21st area of critical need and shortage.
The board approved restructuring the 255-day school human resource/maintenance director position to a 255-day human resource director position.
Current Human Resources and Maintenance Director Russell Penner is leaving. Superintendent Tuttle said both jobs are a fulltime job in themselves.
Tuttle also asked the board for two additional positions — a Director of Attendance, Maintenance and Safety and a fifth fulltime nurse. There will be a lot of medical challenges this year with six schools and four nurses.
Secondary Education Director Elizabeth Golden has been overseeing attendance. Tuttle said she needs Golden in instruction and curriculum. The board approved the additional positions.
Board members were sorry to see Penner go and wished him all the best.
Board member Eric Lyda said he was also sorry to see Berkeley Springs High School teacher Ron Bittinger leaving. Board vice-president Pete Gordon noted that library media specialist Susan Thomas had done so much for the library and intermediate school. Thomas is retiring.
Close, Gordon and Lyda all commented on how nice both high school graduations were. Board member John Rowland noted how wonderful a job the maintenance department had done this summer, especially at Widmyer Elementary with extending the sidewalks and installing the bollards.