Union Elementary School fifth-grade student Lila Wright receives the Upshur Stars Award during the Upshur County BOE meeting Tuesday evening.

Second round of Upshur Stars shimmer at Tuesday’s BOE meeting

BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County BOE recognized two Upshur Stars Tuesday during their regular meeting at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.

This is the second round of Upshur Stars, a program designed to honor a student and an employee of the Upshur County School System.

Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus introduced student Lila Wright and counselor Tanya Zickefoose.

“Tonight, we would like to recognize fifth-grade student Lila Wright,” Stankus said. “She is an excellent student at Union Elementary School. She has been in competitions and won both in Math Field Day and the Spelling Bee. She competed and placed in both the school’s science fair and the county social studies fair.”

Stankus said Lila is an enthusiastic learner who uses her time to nurture her second-grade reading buddy, Carter, and is friends with all students.

“She participates in the talent show each year as a fierce drummer,” Stankus said. “She always tries and takes every learning opportunity.”

In a letter from Lila’s teacher, the teacher wrote, “Lila’s positive attitude and smile are the first thing you notice. Her extracurricular activities include trumpet and percussion lessons. She is a member of the chorus at Union, the Safety Patrol, the Kindness Club and student council. Lila is also president of the National Elementary Honor Society at Union.”

Tanya Zickefoose received the second Upshur Stars Award.

Tanya Zickefoose, counselor at B-UMS, receives an Upshur Stars Award at the Upshur County BOE meeting. She was also named as a West Virginia School Counselor of the Year.

“She is a member of the Upshur County Middle School community,” Stankus said. “She is kind and compassionate. She loves her staff and her students. She always has the best interest of her students in mind and she meets with individually throughout the day.”

Zickefoose was named as a West Virginia School Counselor of the Year.

Stankus also recognized the B-UHS Wrestling team members and Coach Jacob Orr for their wins at the State Tournament.

Those recognized include Tyler Cutright, senior, for his fourth-place win; Austin McCartney, senior, for his sixth-place win; Breason Pearson, sophomore, for his sixth-place win; Jacob Smithson, junior, for his second-place win; Aiden Wilson, freshman, for being in the top 12 at states; Todd Cutlip, junior, for his top 16 at states; Julius Hobbs, sophomore, for his third-place win; and Alex Bennett, freshman.

“These guys had an awesome year – one of the best years, hands down, that I have had the pleasure of coaching,” Orr said. “Not only were they tough kids on the mat, but they are great kids, great people, great individuals.”

Orr said everywhere he took the team, he received compliments on their behavior.

“We know that this is a sport that takes true dedication and commitment,” Stankus said. “We commend you and your team for all you have done and how you have represented our county.”

Dr. Tammy Samples, president of Upshur County BOE, said she has a nephew on the team, so she spends lots of time at wrestling matches.

“The coaches are teaching them so much more than wrestling – they are teaching them how to be men and be thoughtful and concerned citizens,” Samples said. “We cannot ask for anything better for our students than that.”

A public hearing and approval of submission of the levy rates to the State Tax Department was part of Tuesday’s meeting. No one signed in to make any statements during the public hearing.

George Carver, Upshur County Schools business manager, said the public hearing was statutory by code and said the meeting will be recessed until the third Tuesday in April.

“We received the assessed values from the assessor on March 1,” he said. “We calculated the expected revenues based on the levy rates. The levy rates increased by about $34 million from last year to this year. They have been going up and down. This is the second increase in a row. That means there is new construction and new businesses – good things in our community.”

Carver said the assessed values are a signal of the strength of the economy.

“Because of that increase in the levy rates, the regular levy will increase by about $241,000 from last year’s schedule. That amount of money will offset our state aid. We will see an almost identical decrease in our state aid formula.”

“The excess levy revenue increased by $124,000,” Carver added. “We will see that money in our budget, and it will be available for the items outlined in the levy.”

Carver said after Tuesday evening, he will send the tables to the State Auditor’s Office and the W.Va. Department of Education Office of School Finance to review.

“The State Auditor’s Office will send back a letter saying they approve our rates. If they find something they don’t like, they will send it back for us to fix,” he explained.

During the reconvened BOE meeting on April 16, there will be a public hearing about the levy rates. Residents will be permitted to make comments at that time.

Also, during Tuesday’s BOE meeting, members voted unanimously to approve the following personnel recommendations:


  • Beth Post as language arts teacher at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, effective at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, due to retirement.
  • Ronda J. Osburn as secretary at Union Elementary School, effective at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, due to retirement.

Employment, approval of, pending certification and background check

  • Ronda Osburn as substitute secretary effective with the commencement of school year 2019-2020.
  • John F. Cale Jr. as volunteer assistant coach for the boys lacrosse team at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School for the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Samantha Bennett as long-term substitute kindergarten ECCAT aide at Union Elementary School, effective March 13, 2019, through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
  • William Squires as assistant girls’ track coach at Buckhannon-Upshur High School for the 2018-2019 school year, effective March 13, 2019.
  • Ronna Smallridge as extracurricular elementary chess coach at Union Elementary School for the 2018-2019 school year, effective March 13, 2019.

Requests for leave without pay

  • Jenny Tenney, first-grade teacher at Hodgesville Elementary School, leave with pay from March 5, 2019 until expiration of all personal sick leave and donated sick leave days, then leave without pay for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Hannah Lively, fifth-grade teacher at Rock Cave Elementary School, leave without pay on March 15, 2019, and March 29, 2019.
  • Jennifer Winans, aide ECCAT at Buckhannon Academy, 10 days without pay before the end of the school year, dates to be determined.

The next Upshur County BOE meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 26, at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School.

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