TENNERTON – The Upshur County Board of Education held the first of two public hearings regarding the Upshur County Schools 2020-2021 school calendar during their Jan. 14 meeting at Tennerton Elementary School.
The proposed calendar for 2020-2021 lists Aug. 19, 2020 as the start date for students and an end date of May 28, 2021, the Friday before Memorial Day. Spring break is proposed to include Good Friday and the week following Easter. Teachers would begin on Aug. 13, 2020.
School officials said putting the calendar together is a difficult job that’s even more complex in Upshur County since Fred Eberly Technical Center is regional – with students from multiple counties who attend – necessitating the need for those counties sending students to the center to coordinate their school year calendars.
Upshur County Schools Curriculum Director Tim Derico said the counties sharing students at Fred Eberle met prior to the Christmas break to go over calendar options. Derico presented the school calendar which he said was the favorite amongst those counties.
“It is very similar to the current calendar we are using this year,” Derico said. “It is slightly different in how we are looking at our Faculty Senate Days and early dismissal – instruction is broken during that time and at Buckhannon-Upshur High School where there are alternating blocks, they could miss their ‘blue day’ multiple times.”
Derico said to fix that, the Upshur County School Calendar suggests teaming professional learning days with Faculty Senate Days on a few occasions so as not to disrupt learning. He said those two days would be in October and February.
No one offered any comments during Tuesday’s public hearing on the school calendar. The final public hearing on the proposed 2020-2021 school calendar will take place at the next BOE meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
BOE members voted unanimously to approve a few changes in the BOE meeting schedule. Those changes include moving the meeting scheduled for Jan. 28, 2020 to 6 p.m. as well as changing the May 13, 2020 meeting to May 5. The final change was to move the 2020-2021 school calendar hearings to Jan. 14, 2020 and Jan. 28, 2020.
Derico updated BOE members about maintenance issues around the county.
“[One of the] three big things include a sewage issue at the Middle School,” Derico shared. “It reared its ugly head the day before we left for Christmas Break. We met with the city and found tree roots that penetrated the drain line to the manhole on the street. The contractor was able to work over the break and make some repairs.”
Unfortunately, Derico said the repairs led to some discoveries closer to the Middle School building.
“We made corrections while the ground was moved and we were able to get those corrected,” Derico said.
The second issue involved the Buckhannon-Upshur High School roof. Derico said the roof over the gymnasium suffered a setback on Saturday evening.
“The wind was strong enough that it blew off some of the repairs that had been made,” he said. “Luckily, Mr. Reynolds was in the building at the time and we got workers there, so we did not have water on the gym floor for any amount of time, but we do have some boards that are cupped. We met with the floor company today and they will be back tomorrow with dehumidifiers to treat the problem.”
Finally, Derico said while not the most ideal, work to replace the roof on Hodgesville Elementary will take place as the weather and temperatures permit.
Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison shared some information about the impact of House Bill 206. She said HB 206 made some changes to the process for Reduction in Forces.
“It indicates that whenever a county board is required to reduce the number of professional personnel in its employment, the selection of the employees to be properly notified and released from employment shall – and that’s the keyword – be based on seniority, certification, licensure and performance evaluations.”
Harrison said everything in Upshur County Schools follows the West Virginia State Code.
“We would like the BOE to approve this definition for Reduction in Force,” she said. “This definition has been reviewed by the West Virginia Superintendent of Schools.”
BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples asked that the change be included on the next BOE meeting agenda for a vote.
Upshur County Schools Director of Student Services Jodie Akers told BOE members she has been working in collaboration with Community Care, looking at how to meet individual needs of students.
“We are looking at meeting the needs of the entire child, which includes the family, education and treatment piece,” Akers said. “We would like to work with Community Care on a new pilot program that would go into effect for the 2020-2021 school year – five to seven students – that would include how we are going to work on the substance abuse piece and working with those children and families.”
“With this collaboration, we would be in the same facility,” she added. “We have a very affordable location, and we are asking permission to have a memorandum of understanding with Community Care so we can work on this pilot. It would be an alternative program for those expulsions with substance abuse.”
Once developed, the MOU would come back to the BOE for approval before the program pilot begins.
Akers also spoke to the need for an additional Prevention Resource Officer at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. She reminded BOE members that the former PRO Officer, Rocky Hebb, said there was need for an additional PRO Officer at the high school.
“So, we started having conversations with the Sheriff and committee members to look at the data, which definitely showed we could use another PRO at Buckhannon-Upshur High School,” Akers said. “We have been working with George (Carver) on the budget,” she said. “Not having a PRO Officer at our Middle School for the middle part has allowed us to bring this request to you.”
“Next year, we would be back to three officers,” Akers said. “Our students want more officers. They are making those connections and that is their message loud and clear – it speaks volumes to what the PRO officers are doing in our schools when students are asking for those connections.”
The early notice of retirement incentive proposal was approved unanimously. Finance manager George Carver said the incentive has been in effect for several years and includes a $500 incentive bonus provided through county funds for professional employees who give early notice of their retirement by March 2, 2020 and complete the 2019-2020 school year.
He said the incentive is also available for service personnel and administration who give like notice, even though they are not eligible for the $500 state incentive. BOE members voted unanimously to approve the incentive.
BOE members voted to table a recommendation to make an appointment to the Upshur County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board left vacant by the resignation of Hannah Lively. The next Upshur BOE meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 28 at B-UMS.