Rock Cave principal Amanda Craig delivers a report on the Local School Improvement Council Tuesday night at an Upshur County BOE meeting.

Upshur County one of nine school systems in nation to be awarded safety grant

FRENCH CREEK – The Upshur County Board of Education on Tuesday received some welcome news about potential funds to bankroll a variety of projects in the school system – including one that will pay for the installation of security cameras.

During their meeting at French Creek Elementary School, Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus told BOE members Upshur County Schools was just one of nine school systems in the nation to receive a federal grant for safety.

Stankus said the grant is for $309,000 and will be used to install security cameras in the schools. The grant is called the 2018 COPS STOP School Violence: School Violence Prevention Program and is intended to help improve safety on school grounds.

“We are really, really excited for this grant,” Stankus said. The grant was written by director of student services Jodie Akers and Jeff Harvey, preparedness division manager with JH Consulting. The Upshur County Commission also partnered with the BOE on the grant.

In addition, the county has been invited to Charleston to defend their proposed School Building Authority project.

“We will travel to Charleston to defend our SBA project at Hodgesville on Oct. 30,” Stankus said. “We will let them know why we need the funding to replace the HVAC system [and] complete the safety project and pre-K addition at Hodgesville Elementary.”

Stankus said another SBA-funded project at Tennerton Elementary School has been completed and will be unveiled to the BOE and media next week.

In other news, Stankus said she made a presentation Tuesday to approximately 60 retired school employees and made a point of specifically asking them what they’d like to see included on the school levy renewal.

“I outlined what we have up to date including instructional materials, textbooks and extracurricular activities,” Stankus said. “Each teacher receives $200 each school year for additional classroom supplies. We like to keep our technology up to date as this is ever changing. We also want to improve and update our school libraries.”

She said other items include facility and equipment maintenance, security improvements and student services.

“One of the suggestions was to add veterans to activity admittance to show our support for their service,” Stankus said.

Stankus said another important thing to remember about the school levy is it gives the school system leverage when applying for additional funding.

“For instance, the Tennerton $500,000 to improve the roof and drainage – levy monies were used to leverage that money from the SBA,” she said. “It would be a shame if we did not pass this levy and this county would not be able to capture the tax dollars [from] the pipeline.

“We will get some of it, but the levy would allow us to get more of that money,” Stankus explained. “None of the levy money leaves our county.”

Stankus said the BOE has not set an official date to run the levy.

Upshur County Schools superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus and BOE president Dr. Tammy Samples review information at the BOE’s meeting Tuesday night at French Creek Elementary School.

Following a 45-minute executive session, Upshur BOE members approved a number of personnel changes. Board member Alan Suder recused himself from the vote.

Personnel changes approved include:

-Kimberly Light as substitute teacher, effective Sept. 24; Angela Starkey as AM aide on Bus 93, effective Sept. 28; and Christopher Haller as special education multi-categorical w/autism at Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, effective Oct. 10.

Employment, pending appropriate certification and background check:
Christine Hull, Title I tutor, French Creek Elementary School, effective Oct. 10; Christy M. Suder, Title I tutor, French Creek Elementary School, effective Oct. 10; Jessica McQuain, Title I tutor, French Creek Elementary School, effective Oct. 10; Kasey Baisden, Title I tutor at French Creek Elementary School, effective Oct. 10; Tiffany Board, head girls’ basketball coach, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, effective Oct. 10; Brittany Brown, assistant cheerleading coach, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, effective Oct. 10; Andrew Moore, substitute custodian, effective Oct. 3; Billy Demastes, substitute custodian, effective Oct. 3; Jason A. Dever, substitute custodian, effective Oct. 11; James Casto, substitute custodian, effective Oct. 11; Charles Joe Maxwell, volunteer assistant girls’ basketball coach, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, effective for the 2018-2018 season; and Samuel Errett, IV, full-time itinerant bus driver, effective Oct. 10.

Zach Fowler from itinerant physical education/health teacher to physical education/health teacher, Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, effective 2019-2020.

The next Upshur County BOE meeting is slated for 6 p.m. Oct. 23 at Washington District Elementary School.

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