Harrison, Stewart take official oaths of office as new interim superintendent, assistant superintendent

ROCK CAVE – Upshur County interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Harrison and Interim Assistant Superintendent of Schools Melinda Stewart each took an Oath of Office for their newly appointed positions during the Upshur County Board of Education meeting Tuesday, Sept. 13, at Rock Cave Elementary School.

Twenty-sixth Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jacob E. Reger conducted the swearing-in ceremony.

Harrison and Stewart accepted these positions after former Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus was tapped to assume the duties as deputy state superintendent for West Virginia. Stankus was appointed by W.Va. State Superintendent of Schools David L. Roach.

Harrison had been the assistant superintendent of Upshur County Schools, and Stewart was the former Upshur County Schools Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction before accepting the appointment as Interim Assistant Superintendent of Upshur County Schools.

26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jacob Reger administers the oath of office to newly appointed interim Upshur County Schools Superintendent of Schools Dr. Debra Harrison. / All photos by Beth Christian Broschart
Reger administers the oath of office to Melinda Stewart, Upshur County Schools interim superintendent of schools Melinda Stewart.

During Tuesday’s meeting, BOE members were expected to appoint a member to serve on the Fred W. Eberle Technical Center Administrative Council for a term of two years. This vacancy came as a result of the departure of former Upshur County BOE member Patrick Long, who resigned on Sept. 1, 2022. BOE member Roy Wager asked the members to consider transferring him from the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Board to the Fred Eberle Technical Center Administrative Council.

Upshur County Board of Education member Roy Wager at the Sept. 13, 2022, regular Upshur BOE meeting.

“I would request that I be changed to the Fred Eberle board from the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Board,” Wager said.

BOE Vice-President Jan Craig made a motion to appoint Wager to the Fred Eberle Technical Center Administrative Council and the motion received a second by BOE member Sherry Dean prior to it passing unanimously. BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples said that on the next BOE meeting agenda, she wanted to add appointing a replacement for the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Board.

Also, during Tuesday’s meeting, members discussed a request from the Recruitment and Retention Committee. The committee has met approximately three times and requested the Board’s approval on an item stipulating that all Upshur County school employees would be admitted to all school sponsored activities at no cost to them.

Harrison said the committee suggested that employees be admitted using their school identification. It was suggested by some of the committee members that this would be appreciated among the school personnel, who stated it would be a nice gesture.

“[It’s important] just knowing you are appreciated in some manner,” Harrison said. “This is one of our first opportunities to show our personnel are appreciated.”

Craig said that would as good idea because the personnel would be there to support students.

Harrison said recently, all staff were admitted free to a game, and as a result, attendance was notably elevated for the event; she also noted concession stand revenues were higher than usual as well.

Upshur County Schools Finance Director Jeffrey Perkins said he spoke with the Buckhannon-Upshur Middle and High School Athletic Directors who said they are in favor of waiving admittance fees for staff.

“They said the bigger the crowd, the better,” Perkins shared. “How often does someone attend without a spouse or a friend and it causes an increase at the snack bar in revenues? Both athletic directors were in favor of this.”

A motion was made by Roy Wager and seconded by Sherry Dean to allow all Upshur County School employees to attend all school-sponsored activities free of charge. The motion was unanimously approved.

During board member comments, Craig, BOE vice-president, said she had received several comments from folks who were unable to hear BOE members when meetings are held at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

“I do not know if it is a matter of moving our microphone closer to us or making a concerted effort to speak louder,” Craig said. “The second thing is, I am still pitching for us to do Facebook live (for the Upshur County BOE meetings). I know I am pushing that issue, but I want open, honest and transparent [exchange]. That lets them hear. Third, I have repeatedly heard there is a lack of choices for classes at the high school.”

Following a short executive session, Upshur County BOE members voted unanimously to accept the slate of personnel as presented with the exception of C230805, designated as the employment of Jason Westfall as head boys’ basketball coach at B-UHS.

The Upshur County BOE has scheduled a special meeting for Sept. 20, 2022, at 10 a.m. to complete goal-setting.

The next regular meeting of the Upshur County BOE is slated for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Hodgesville Elementary School.

Check back on My Buckhannon to learn about the upcoming Levy Sessions that will be offered by the Upshur County School System and see what awards were given during the Tuesday Upshur County BOE meeting held at Rock Cave Elementary School.

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