Allyson Lewis and Joseph Hymes, both ag education instructors at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, address the Upshur County Board of Education Tuesday, July 27 about inequities they see in the updated version of Policy 8006.

BOE tables vote on contentious update to policy involving supplemental compensation

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Board of Education on Tuesday voted to table a much-debated update to a controversial policy involving salary schedules and supplemental compensation.

Over the past few months, the Upshur County Board of Education has had many conversations and worked with the policy committee to make updates to Policy 8006. During the regular meeting of the BOE July 27, Policy 8006 – which details salary supplements – the BOE again heard from delegations regarding the equity of some of the supplements and questions as to why some positions did not receive supplements.

This was to be the third and final reading of Policy 8006, and it was expected to be voted upon during the meeting. (You can view the 2015 version of the policy here.)

Board member Pat Long made a motion to pass Policy 8006 with the stipulation that the policies be revisited within the next two or three months for updating; however, the motion died for lack of a second. Long then withdrew his motion and Kristi Wilkerson made a motion to table a vote on the policy until the next meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday Aug. 10 at the Buckhannon-Upshur High School auditorium.

The motion was seconded by BOE Vice President Katie Loudin. The motion to table a vote on the policy was approved, with Loudin, Wilkerson and BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples voting in favor of the motion, and Long voting to oppose the motion. Board member Dr. Greenbrier Almond was absent from the July 27 meeting.

Later in the meeting, Long asked how Policy 8006 would be presented at the next BOE meeting and what steps will take place before the meeting to update the policy.

“So, what is our process for Policy 8006 since we tabled it?” Long asked. “We have it on the agenda for the next meeting. Will information go out?”

Upshur County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison said she intended to send an email to individuals who are affected by Policy 8006.

“I think if we give individuals a week to respond once it is posted that is enough,” Harrison said. “Everyone knows it is out there now and really, we have allowed the comment period to go on longer than we should have. It is such a controversial policy, but I think everyone has had enough time, with the additional week, to respond. I will share the comments with the board so when we come back for a vote, everyone will have what they need.”

Long asked Harrison if they can make changes and vote on the policy at the next meeting. Harrison said after the comments are gathered and shared, changes to the policy can be made before the next BOE meeting and then members can vote on the updated Policy 8006.

Previous discussions about updates to Policy 8006 centered on questions about several coaching positions, in addition to several other contract changes. However, during the delegations/public comments portion of Tuesday’s meeting, several other instructors spoke with their ideas for Policy 8006. Joseph Hymes, who teaches agriculture education at B-UHS, told BOE members his livestock judging team won first place in the state contest, held last Saturday.

“What is even more impressive is we had three of the top five individuals in the contest,” Hymes said. “I am really proud of those students.”

Hymes said his comments and questions regarding Policy 8006 were about equity.

“When I started in 2007, I was hired as a 200-day employee,” Hymes said. “I worked side-by-side with another ag education instructor who worked 230 days. During that time, I put in a ton of extra hours. When that teacher left, I applied for the 230-day contract and accepted it and have been here ever since. But, in the hiring process, for another ag education teacher, some things were not equitable. We were working to have equal contracts and equal responsibilities and we made some ground. Some things changed around as well.”

Hymes said in 2012, the other ag education instructor and he split the $400/year stipend outlined in Policy 8006.

“We have split this $400 between two teachers ever since then,” Hymes said. “The vocational agriculture $400 stipend is being struck, and that was split among two teachers as well. My co-advisor in ag education is still not being treated equitably. When I look at this policy, there is no mention of there being two people in those positions. I just wanted to ask the board if there is a process before we strike something out? We need to find out what is going on.”

“I am in a 230-day contract and Ms. (Allyson) Lewis is under a 220-day contract,” he added. “We work the same. We put in the same effort. We were both here for the last two weeks training those kids to earn the first-place title and to get up and be confident and just in what they said.”

Hymes said he wanted the BOE to, before they vote on the policy, to explore the equity in which the ag education has been placed into the document.

“Right now, as the document reads, I am not sure either of us will be receiving the $400 FFA Advisor stipend,” Hymes said. “Is that me? Is that her? Are we co-advisors? Are we splitting the $400? I do not know the answer and I am not asking for an answer right now. I am asking for you to think about the equity of this before you pass or fail this.”

Lewis was another of the delegations to speak. When she took the floor, she said she felt Hymes did a great job speaking about the ag department, however, she said she wanted to bring up some other people she felt were omitted from the policy.

“I am currently the CTE Chair, and I think everyone who is getting a pay increase has worked hard and they do deserve those things,” Lewis said. “But we are also decreasing curricular pay and the department chairs are volunteer now. I am brand new to this and I know they put in a lot of time and effort, and they work through the schedules and make that work for the kids here at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.”

Lewis said she thought there were a lot of clubs missing from the document.

“FBLA is on there (and gets a stipend) but DECA is not,” Lewis pointed out. “The Educators Rising is not on there either. From the CTE side, these are programs that are both competing at the local, state and national level and are giving kids experiences they would not ever have. I know they are spending more time than $400 really compensates, but leaving them out says something to the kids, the teachers and the public. I think there are clubs that are missing. I would like for you to revisit that.”

Check back with My Buckhannon to learn about awards and recognitions given during Tuesday’s BOE meeting, how the school system hopes to expend their COVID-19 monies and how the re-entry plan for the 2021-2022 school year is shaping up.

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