School officials commend special levy passage; approve multiple actions

by Kate Evans

Morgan County school officials expressed their deep appreciation at the May 10 school board meeting that the special levy was approved by voters during the May 8 primary election. Board vice-president Aaron Close congratulated Superintendent Erich May and board member Pete Gordon on their efforts to encourage the levy’s passage.

Board member John Rowland said that the special levy vote was a citizen mandate of approval for what they were doing in the schools.   Gordon felt reassured of public support for education and support for the levy in the years to come.

Superintendent May said the levy passage was a vote of confidence in all school staff and was grateful for the committee that led the special levy efforts-Pete Gordon, Gat Caperton, Tom Shade and Robert Dugan.

Close said the board was pleased to see that special levies had also passed in other West Virginia counties. School special levies passed in Cabell, Gilmer, Greenbrier, Jackson, Mason and Wayne counties, but failed in Preston and Summers counties, May said.

Bio-retention pond bid

The school board approved a contract with Farris Grading and Paving for $13,650 to complete bio-retention pond #3 at the Alex Rickli Memorial Soccer Complex on U.S. Route 522. Close said that the company was the lowest bidder and that they’d done work with them in the past. The funding source for the project was a March 27 grant from the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District.

Two bio-retention ponds have already been installed at the soccer field complex through a $29,480 grant from the Eastern Panhandle Conservation District. Rainwater run-off is funneled to the ponds for stormwater management. The ponds include mulch, sand and plants.

Facility projects payments

The school board approved pay application #1 in the amount of $206,530 for the Morgan County Schools SBA gymnasium building renovations project at Berkeley Springs High School as approved by W. Harley Miller Contractors.

The board also okayed pay application #9 in the amount of $101,643 for the Morgan County Schools Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract as approved by CMTA.

Math textbooks adopted

The school board approved the adoption of Envision (Pearson) math textbooks for grades 9-12 and grades 6-8 and Go Math textbooks for grades k-5. The textbooks are being adopted countywide, which will give county schools a uniform math curriculum.

The curriculum and instruction committee met on April 26 regarding the selection of the math textbooks and also the creation of a virtual network for homeschooled students. The committee discussed policies and other considerations and possible network providers.

Policy revisions

The school board also approved revisions to ten policies at their May 1 meeting after a second reading of the revised policies. The policies were the employment of professional personnel, prospective employable personnel reserve list, probationary contract, continuing contract, transfer, reduction-in-force for classroom teachers and other professional personnel, vacancies-professional positions, non-renewal of probationary teacher contract, use of epinephrine auto-injectors by personnel and professional learning for educators.

Dual credit courses added

Several new high school courses were approved as additions to the dual credit policy: co-requisite math, IT 185 Intro to Linux and SDE 188 Intro to Programming Logic. Secondary Education Director Russell Penner said that the courses were being offered through Blue Ridge Community and Technical College at the Pines Center in lieu of several other courses next year.

Financial audit

Morgan County Schools received a good financial audit report with no findings for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017 from independent auditor The Fyffe Jones Group, AC. School Treasurer Ann Bell said that it was a team effort and also gave credit to finance department staff Angie Beddow and Michelle Sirbaugh for the report.


May said that the April 27 active shooter training for school employees went very well. May thanked Probation Officer Danielle Hofe, the West Virginia State Police and the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance in making the training happen.

School board member Pete Gordon applauded how well Warm Springs Middle School contestants did at a school public speaking competition. Gordon also praised Glen Stotler and the Cacapon State Park Foundation for their annual efforts and fundraising to hold the high school prom locally at the park.

Board member John Rowland and Superintendent May gave kudos to kids that recently won regional and state awards for academic competitions. May said the students will be honored at a June 5 school board meeting which will be held at Berkeley Springs High School.