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Upshur BOE receives remote student achievement briefing, among slew of other updates

TENNERTON – Just over half of middle-schoolers and nearly half of high schoolers in Upshur County Schools enrolled as full-time remote students are cause for “concern” academically among county school officials.

That means because they are not making adequate progress, not completing the work, have failed a course or received an incomplete, Upshur County Board of Education members learned earlier this week.

However, a group of Upshur County administrators and educators are meeting with families and extending the window in which students may come into compliance, educators told the BOE.

Those percentages were unveiled at Tuesday’s Upshur BOE meeting at Buckhannon-Upshur High School when Melinda Stewart, director of secondary curriculum; Jody Johnson, director of federal programs; and Doug Frashure, director of special education, presented an update on remote learning and student achievement.

Johnson said during the first semester, Upshur County Schools had approximately 28 percent of the students who were full-time remote learners and as of Feb. 4, 2021, approximately 24 percent of student were classified as full-time remote.

Stewart said one page of her handouts showed concerns at different programmatic levels, showing full-time remote students with incompletes, indicating the students who are not making adequate progress.

“As you can see, [with] the students that are full-time remote, there is significant concern about lack of growth and progress being made for those students,” Stewart said.

The report shows that among full-time remote students – in other words, those who do not attend in-person classes – 25 percent of elementary, 52 percent of middle school students and 45 percent of high school students – were cause for concern because they are not making adequate progress, not doing the work, have failed a course or received an incomplete.

Stewart shared information on how students are coming into compliance.

“We have extended the window for students who have received incompletes, so students are continuing to work on those classes in order to earn the credits,” Stewart said. “[Regarding] students who have had little progress or engagement, Miss Drake, Mrs. Johnson and myself have been meeting with the families and are having conversations with those families to let them know the full-time remote instruction is probably not the program for them and helping them look at other options.”

Samples asked how those meetings were going.

“The folks that we have met with are very receptive,” Stewart said. “They understand that a change needs to be made. We have been able to transition with them (students enrolled in West Virginia Virtual School) to full-time remote instruction with Upshur County teachers. Others have returned to two-day blended learning.”

B-UHS Principal Jonathon Pollock said they saw this coming at B-UHS about six weeks ago.

“We knew we were going to have to make some changes,” Pollock said. “With Melinda and Jody, we looked at how to promote student success. We have put in an in-house credit recovery program and if we need it, we are looking at an after-hours credit recovery program. As of today, everyone of our juniors and seniors have been triaged, so anyone who has an ‘F’ or an incomplete [has] been given the plan to get them on course to graduate.”

Pollock said students are working to recover their grades and are realizing that they need to catch up.

That remote learning/student achievement update was just one among a plethora of updates and information was presented to members of the BOE Tuesday. The updates ranged from learning about prices for a new box truck; information on the bids for the Union Elementary School roofing project; updates on one-to-one technology; the proposed calendar for the 2021-2022 school year; and a presentation by Zonar regarding GPS navigation on Upshur County School Buses.

Three of the BOE members, President Dr. Tammy Samples, Vice-President Katie Loudin and Dr. Greenbrier Almond attended Tuesday’s regular meeting, which was held at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, in person. BOE members Pat Long and Kristi Wilkerson attended the meeting virtually.

Tim Derico, Upshur County Schools Director of Facilities, said they were recommending that Murray Sheet Metal’s bid for the reroofing at Union Elementary School be accepted for $465,930, the lowest bid received with a projected completion of 60 calendar days. Derico said he felt there was a really good response as far as the number of bids they received.

Upshur County BOE members voted unanimously to approve awarding the contract to Murray Sheet Metal, located in Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Derico said they have talked before about the box truck situation in the schools.

“It is coming to the end of its life,” Derico reported. “We are reaching that point where we need to consider a different box truck. I have started that research piece to let you know where we are.”

Derico said he has spoken to Finance Director Jeffrey Perkins and noted that with the pandemic, funds could be used because of the amount of food the truck helped get ready for distribution.

“That box truck has worked extra hard in the last year, delivering for the curbside pickups at the schools and at the warehouse each week as well as delivering custodial supplies. That truck is a 1998 model, and it does not have a high number of miles because it remains local. The mechanics at the bus garage have done their part to put it back together.”

Derico said he is seeking bids and quotes and is looking locally for those. He said the current box truck is 12 feet and they are looking for a new box truck in the 14- to 16- foot range so it can hold three pallets of foods and make their trips more efficient.

On the technology front, Kayla Yocum, technology/digital communication specialist, said the department is excited about getting iMacs into the hands of the school secretaries and counselors.

“Many of those have them installed and are using them and they have jumped on board willingly,” Yocum said. “We are excited about completing the one-to-one ratio.”

Director of School Safety and Emergency Preparedness Dr. Jeffery Harvey said there have been four clinics where teachers and staff could receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We have about 288 of our folks who have received their first dose,” he said. “Last Friday, we got second doses in the arms of 86 people. We also gave 12 more people who received first doses, so we have 57 more people who need a vaccine.”

Harvey asked that the re-entry plan be placed on the next Upshur County BOE for a possible vote. That meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021 at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.

In other business, Upshur County BOE members voted unanimously to approve the recommended personnel as presented.

Check back with My Buckhannon to learn about the proposed school calendar for 2021-2022 and how GPS systems on the Upshur County School Buses could be of help for everyone.

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