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City attorney Tom O'Neill reviews a letter of agreement between the city and the Upshur County Board of Education, which grants the BOE permission to use an SYCC classroom for its PALS program.

Upshur BOE and city partner to establish third Personalized Alternative Learning School classroom

BUCKHANNON – The City of Buckhannon on Thursday gave the thumbs up to an agreement with the Upshur County Board of Education that would allow the school system to utilize a classroom in the Stockert Youth & Community Center for its Personalized Alternative Learning School, or PALS, program.

City council voted unanimously to give Mayor David McCauley the green light to sign off on a letter of agreement with the Upshur BOE that would allow PALS to operate out of a classroom in SYCC for the 2019-2020 school year.

SYCC executive director Debora Brockleman explained the purpose of PALS.

“It’s a pilot program, and for those of you that don’t know, it’s something new that’s come along, and what PALS stands for is ‘Personalized Alternative Learning School,’ and it’s a classroom for children who have trouble in a day-to-day classroom routine,” Brockleman explained. “Most of the children are homebound, so this gets them back into a classroom and hopefully, they can segue into a regular classroom.”

Brockleman said the program would give traditionally homebound children an opportunity to check out SYCC and the activities it offers for themselves.

“This is a program that Stockert has an opportunity to have in our facility, and they have a teacher and an aide who would be responsible for the children, and it’ll be a nontraditional-type classroom, and they will also have an opportunity to see what Stockert’s all about and maybe participate in some of our programs they may not have known about since they’ve been homebound.”

PALS is also designed for Buckhannon-Upshur High School students who need to make up credits in order to graduate. Two other PALS classrooms have been established in the county, Brockleman said.

“Mrs. Blend, who is the teacher, she has been giving the kids tours of the center because they have never been [to SYCC] before,” Brockleman said. “They didn’t even really know about it because they had been homebound, and they hadn’t been in the school system. They had heard about it, but they didn’t really know what Stockert was, so they’re really excited about it.”

Brockleman said Blend plans to utilize SYCC’s gym for “brain breaks” to break up tedious classroom time.

McCauley said the city would be happy to partner with the school system, and city attorney Tom O’Neill reviewed a written agreement he’d drafted between the city and school system.

“It really sets out the conditions under which the Board of Education will have access to the space at Stockert,” O’Neill explained. “It provides that any personnel there is under the direction, control, employment and insurance coverage of the Board of Education.”

If the BOE needs to make any adjustments or enhancements to the classroom, it’s their responsibility, the letter says.

“There’s already been discussion, for instance, of bringing in a supplemental air conditioner into the space,” O’Neill said. “They will have the ability to create a private secured storage.”

The city attorney said the agreement only applies to the 2019-2020 academic year but may be “extended or expanded.”

McCauley noted SYCC’s classrooms have served as alternative school classrooms in the past.

“There’s nothing novel about this concept,” he said. “For a number of years – oh, probably going back 10 or so years ago – the Board of Education used one of our classrooms as an alternative school classroom; it was an excellent arrangement.”

O’Neill read a paragraph from the agreement he said was reflective of the “sentiment of council.”

“The City of Buckhannon is pleased to make this space available for the use of the Upshur County Board of Education and the students and community we all serve,” he read. “The city expresses its appreciation to the board and its administration and leadership for their collaborative thinking in making use of the Stockert Youth & Community Center as a valuable public resource.”

“We get an annual contribution of $25,000 from the school system [that goes toward Stockert], so that’s the least we can do,” McCauley added.

Councilwoman Mary Albaugh made a motion to authorize the mayor to sign off on the agreement, which was seconded by councilman CJ Rylands prior to passing unanimously.

In other council news, city recorder Randy Sanders congratulated McCauley on his recent Mayor of the Year Award at the annual West Virginia Municipal League Conference in Huntington.

City recorder Randy Sanders congratulates Mayor Dave McCauley on being named Mayor of the Year at the 2019 W.Va. Municipal League Conference in Huntington recently.

“I just want to mention that I’ve known Mayor McCauley for many years prior to getting this position, and this was the first time I saw him speechless,” Sanders said with a smile. “He was very humble. He was so well-received there. It was a privilege to be there with him at the WVML, and it was a pleasure to see him received a much-deserved award.”

Prior to adjourning, council also:

  • Unanimously approved Ordinance 437, which defines full-time employee medical and prescription drug insurance benefits; establishes the city’s share of employees’ health insurance premium; and establishes the city’s share of health insurance premium for full-time employees’ children and qualifying spouses. To read more about the changes, click here. Full-time employees hired prior to Oct. 1, 2019 will not see any changes in their health insurance coverage; the ordinance goes into effect Oct. 1, 2019.
  • Unanimously approved Ordinance 438, which puts state law concerning municipalities’ purchasing of materials, supplies and equipment into city code, including requiring competitive bidding under certain circumstances.

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