School board elects officers, assigns new committee representatives

by Kate Evans

Morgan County School Board president Aaron Close was unanimously elected to another two-year term of office as board president from July 1, 2024 through June 30, 20264 at the July 1 school board meeting.

Longtime board member Laura Smith was unanimously elected as vice-president for a two-year term as vice-president from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2024.

Voters elected new board member Chuck Bergen to take Gordon’s seat on the school board.  July 1 was Bergen’s first meeting.

Bergen, re-elected school board member John Rowland and new Morgan County Schools Superintendent David Banks all took their oaths of office at 5:30 p.m. before the meeting began. Banks takes the helm as school superintendent after former Superintendent Kristen Tuttle’s June 30 resignation.

Close welcomed Bergen to his first official meeting as a school board member.  Bergen said that the new board member training he attended was good and that he was pretty impressed with all he learned.

Close also welcomed Superintendent Banks and told Banks that “it’s good to have you back.”

Banks said it had been a great first day. He was surprised by how much had changed but a lot was the still the same.  Banks was seeing a lot of old faces and some new ones and was feeling good to be back home.

Former school board vice-president Pete Gordon declined to run for re-election in the May primary election.

Committee appointments

The school board approved their annual organizational designations and advisory committee appointments at the meeting.   Board members will serve on the following advisory committees for the 2024-2025 school year-buildings and grounds, athletics, strategic planning and curriculum and instruction.

Board members Aaron Close and Justin Litten will serve on the building and grounds advisory committee.

Board members Justin Litten and Chuck Bergen will serve on the athletics committee.

Board members Laura Smith and Chuck Bergen will serve on the curriculum and instruction committee.

Board members John Rowland and Laura Smith will serve on the strategic planning committee.

Additional designations

 John Rowland will serve on the James Rumsey Technical Institute Administrative Council.

Justin Litten will serve on the EPIC Council, which was formerly the RESA 8 Council.

Aaron Close and Chuck Bergen will serve on the Morgan County Parks and Recreation Board. Close is currently the Parks and Recreation board treasurer.

John Rowland will serve on the Community Corrections Board.

Justin Litten will serve on the Morgan County Extension Service Board and the Morgan County Expo Board.  The Morgan County Expo Board was formerly the Morgan County Fair Board.

Laura Smith will remain as the school board representative on the Morgan County Partnership’s board of directors.  The school board may add a second board member to the board if the Partnership board okays it.

School board members will serve two-year terms from July 1, 2024-June 30, 2026 on each of these boards and councils.

Substitutes in critical need

The board approved revising Policy 3120.12-Substitutes in Areas of Critical Need and Shortage-to reflect changes for the 2024-2025 school year.

Current areas of critical need and shortage include special education (LD, BD, MI and autism) reading specialist, reading education, world languages, English language arts, science (biology, chemistry, physics, general, earth and space),  math, social studies, physical education/health, English as a Second Language, family and consumer science, career and technical education, gifted, art, music, theater, dance, early education, elementary education, school library media, school guidance counselors, school nurses, speech pathologists and alternative education.

Superintendent Banks said that critical need areas for substitutes had grown from just a few areas in the beginning to nearly every category now.  The policy allows certified retired teachers to fill in the gaps in these needed areas.

Architect payments

The school board approved payment of invoices 3B for $20,086 to Williamson & Shriver Architect, Inc. for their services regarding the Widmyer Elementary heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacement.

The board also approved payment of invoices 4A for $1,935 to Williamson & Shriver Architect, Inc. for their services regarding the Berkeley Springs High School heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) replacement.

Other actions

The school board voted for a calendar change and moved the October 4, 2024 Faculty Senate Day to October 11, 2024.

The board approved four days with two-hour early dismissals for Faculty Senate during the 2024-2025 school year. Those two-hour early dismissals will be on October 11, 2024, December 20, 2024, February 14, 2025 and April 11, 2025.

The board approved the 2024-2025 Service Personnel Staff Development Handbook.

Board member John Rowland noted the passing of former Morgan County Schools teacher Melissa Unger, who was 43 years old.

Next meeting

The Morgan County School Board will meet next on Tuesday, July 16 at the school board office at 6 p.m.