Schools will continue free meals for students next year

by Kate Evans

The Morgan County School Board approved continuing to provide all students with free breakfasts and lunches with their enrollment in the Community Eligibility Program for the 2019-2020 school year. The board’s action came at their June 18 meeting.

Child Nutrition and Wellness Director Angela Beddow said a total of 294,936 lunches and 190,040 breakfasts were served at the six Morgan County schools during this school year.

Beddow projected 185,464 breakfasts and 287,834 lunches in the 2019-2020 school year. A loss of 30 additional students in enrollment is a factor in their projected meal counts and the school system’s federal meal reimbursements.

The poverty rate for Morgan County Schools, which is 77.7%. The percentage is acquired by multiplying the number of students that are direct certified for public assistance by 1.6 to include students whose families are eligible for public assistance but who have not applied. The poverty rate was 77.4% last year.

Beddow plans to improve strategies for breakfast participation and has replaced meals students don’t like with ones they do.

“Kids will do better if they eat,” she said.

Beddow said there was decreased paperwork with the free meal program.

West Virginia has the second highest percentage rate of participation in the Community Eligibility Program in the country.

The school board approved the bid extension for produce to Kilmer’s Farm Market for the 2019-2020 child nutrition program. It also okayed the bid extension for bread to Bimbo Bakeries USA for the 2019-2020 child nutrition program.

Widmyer roof project

In other business, the school board approved Blackstone Roofing of Inwood for the Widmyer Elementary roofing project bid at their June 11 special meeting. The School Building Authority also gave their approval of the contractor’s bid.

Blackstone Roofing’s bid amount was $750,000 with the other bidder’s – Mansuetto Roofing of Ohio – bid amount being $875,083, said School Treasurer Ann Bell. An initial construction meeting was held with Blackstone and roofing materials were ordered. The company is waiting for the materials to come in before taking off the old roof.

Bell said that the entire Widmyer Elementary roof will be replaced. They’re optimistic that the roof will be finished before school starts in August.

Ball field, other

School Superintendent Erich May said that the Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company had paid in full the amount they’d bid for the Great Cacapon ball field property. They now own the ball field and the ten acres in Great Cacapon that the school board previously had owned. The property was sold to the fire department at a public auction on June 1.

May said that State Police Trooper Platt had asked if they could hang a state police recruiting banner on the track or baseball field fence. May agreed since it’s a career option for students.

May said that end of the year data that was submitted showed there were 1,200 boys and 1,100 girls in the 2,300 enrolled Morgan County students. He felt the difference of 100 and there being so many more boys in the school system is significant, especially when girls are outperforming the boys at times. Of the top 10 Berkeley Springs High School Lions Club students, eight were girls and two were boys, he noted.

May felt they could do more with targeting curriculum and instruction to boys and offering Field and Stream magazines and books that are oriented to boys. Board member John Rowland suggested the books of author Gary Paulsen. Rowland said when he was Greenwood Elementary Principal that he used to spend half their library book money on boys and half on girls.

Cyber Academy

Board member Laura Smith asked about progress with homeschooled students. May said they began the fulltime Warm Springs Cyber Academy for grades 6-12 using Odyssey software. They started with ten students. This year grades 3, 4 and 5 will be added to the program. Secondary Education Director Russell Penner is supervising the program.

May noted that the Cyber Academy program is like a college prep program and that it’s another way to serve this population. The program represents a savings for the district.

Human Resources and Maintenance Director Jamie Harris said he appreciated the chance to work with everyone at the central office. Harris takes over as the new Warm Springs Middle School Principal on July 1. School board president Aaron Close expressed his appreciation for Harris’ service.