2017-08-23 / School News

May takes helm of school system

by Kate Evans

School Superintendent Erich May was welcomed at the August 15 school board meeting. May expressed his appreciation for Special Education/ Assessment Director Joan Willard keeping her hand on the wheel for two weeks as Acting Superintendent until he could begin his post.

May said that his administrative team discussed whether to have schools open for a full day of school during the Monday eclipse, but decided that students were safer with a normal day of school than being home possibly unsupervised. They considered what neighboring counties were doing. Teachers were encouraged to make the eclipse a teachable moment for students and advised that it was safest to watch the eclipse on a computer screen.

RESA developments

School board member John Rowland reported on developments regarding the new Educational Service Cooperatives that will be replacing RESAs across the state. He attended an informational meeting organized by the West Virginia School Board Association.

Rowland said counties will be assigned to four quadrants and most cooperative agreements would fall within geographic areas. Counties needed to discuss if they want to join a cooperative or be on their own.

There is currently no funding from the state for the Educational Services Cooperatives and almost no state control, Rowland said. Counties have a lot of freedom to develop the cooperatives. The funding is provided by the participating counties.

Educational Services Cooperatives must have an administrator, board and by-laws and counties can have multiple cooperatives. Counties can also enter into contractual arrangements with other counties instead of joining, he said.

Rowland said that Educational Services Cooperatives are a work in progress. The state Legislature could change any of these points at any time. He and board president David Ambrose felt there are great opportunities to partner with other counties on some services. RESA 8 has enough funding to last until June, 2018, but some staff is leaving. Ambrose feels the agency will become less functional as time goes on.

Statement of support

Morgan County Schools joined other employers to issue a formal Statement of Support for the Air National Guard and Reserve, recognizing that they are “essential to the strength of our nation and the well-being of our communities.”

They noted that men and women of the Guard and Reserve serve voluntarily in an honored and vital profession and train to respond to their community and country in times of need.

The board gave special recognition to West Virginia 167th Air National Guard unit members Roland Shambaugh and Les Morris. Shambaugh, who is chief loadmaster and a 35-year Guardsman, spoke of the benefits of his military experience. He is a substitute teacher for Morgan County Schools.

Energy management

The board approved their first payment of $383,117 to CMTA for their guaranteed energy savings contract project work. The board also approved a change order of $297,329 to lower the cost of bulk material equipment purchased by Morgan County Schools for the project.

Morgan County Schools Treasurer Ann Bell said that the first amount of $383,117 is what they owe CMTA for contractors for the energy work. The change order deduction is for equipment that the schools ordered for the project to save money because they are a tax-exempt entity. The difference between the two sums is what they’re actually paying contractors.

High school renovations

Board vice-president Aaron Close reported that the construction analyst for the Berkeley Springs High School Building C and Building renovations project said that the project came in under budget with the modifications to the restrooms. However, the timeline still needs to be considered for the final amount since the project will be in phases and that may add to the cost. The project is expected to begin in October.

Early dismissals, other

Two-hour early dismissals for county students were approved for December 22 and February 16. Both days have scheduled Faculty Senate meetings.

The board also approved the tentative Head Start/pre- K collaborative calendar for the 2017-2018 school year at the meeting. The first day of school for pre-kindergarten students was Tuesday, August 22.

Policies approved

The school board approved a revised vacation policy after its second reading at the meeting. The policy had to be slightly revised due to the reduction of employee contractual days from 261 days to 255 days.

The board also approved changes that the state of West Virginia has already instituted to Policy 2419 regarding regulations for the education of students with exceptionalities. The changes mostly dealt with terminology, said Special Education Director Joan Willard.

Return to top