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Buckhannon Upshur High School
Buckhannon-Upshur High School (file photo)

Upshur Schools awarded accreditation; BOE approves contract for outdoor classroom, dining area at high school

BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Board of Education members this week learned that Upshur County School system received full accreditation status for the 2021-2022 school year.

In a letter dated Nov. 10, 2021, from W. Clayton Burch, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools, it says to “ensure each county board of education provides a thorough and efficient education for its students, W. Va. Code 18-2E-5 provides the West Virginia Board of Education annually review information for each county.”

The letter, presented at the Tuesday, Dec. 16 Upshur County Board of Education meeting, also states that Upshur County meets all requirements put forth in relation to career technical education, federal programs, special education, universal pre-K school readiness, finances, personnel, official collections, county board of education member effectiveness, facilities, transportation and child nutrition.

Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus explained every county in the state goes through this process. Upshur County was designated that it “does not need assistance” and was given full approval for the 2021-2022 school year, the superintendent said.

Also, during Tuesday’s BOE meeting, held at Union Elementary School, Financial Director Jeffrey Perkins said in the current financials, there is an expense for $705,598.05 payable to Fuel Education LLC, for a virtual school curriculum. Perkins said that amount represents the first half payment for the remote learning program in Upshur County.

“This is where we have students learning from home,” Perkins said. “That is the first half payment, and we should receive the second half payment next semester, so that will cost us approximately $1.5 million for that program.”

Upshur County BOE Vice President Katie Loudin asked about the amount of money the BOE is spending on home schooling per student.

“That is quite a price tag,” Loudin said.

Perkins said based on anticipated school funding per student, they will receive approximately $2.5 million for the students enrolled in learning at home.

“This will cost us $1.5 million, and we have additional costs which include administrative costs, coordinator costs, etc., but it is a good program for us,” Perkins reported.

“It costs approximately $3,800 per student,” Stankus said. She added that number goes up for students in high school because high school students have more required and specialized courses.

The final topic of interest BOE members discussed was the Buckhannon-Upshur High School outdoor classroom and dining area contract. Facilities Director Tim Derico said there was a bid opening.

“This began a few years back with a grant through child nutrition for an outdoor space to eat,” Derico said. “With COVID, we have decided to blend COVID funding with the grant funding in order to make a nice space for an outdoor classroom as well as an eating area. That will come out of the back doors behind the office and be in the courtyard. It will be awning-covered and does not touch any part of the building. It will be anchored to the ground and not attached to the building.”

Derico said five contractors attended the pre-bid meeting, but only one submitted a bid.

“They are local so that is a good thing for us,” Derico said. “It will be someone local to us working in our backyard.”

BOE President Dr. Tammy Samples asked if any of the funding for the classroom/outdoor eating space comes from the general budget.

“It comes from COVID money and from the grant – a combination of the both of them,” Derico said.

Samples asked where the funding would come from for seating, and Derico said seating and the tables will most likely come from Child Nutrition.

The local bidder was High Point Construction and the base proposal for the classroom structure is approximately $245,000.

BOE member Dr. Greenbrier Almond made a motion to accept the bid and approve the outdoor classroom/earing space, and the motion was seconded by Loudin.

BOE members voted unanimously to approve the contract for construction as presented.

The next regular meeting of the Upshur County BOE is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022, at Tennerton Elementary School.

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