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Wi-Fi access points now available to all Upshur County Schools students

BUCKHANNON – Since the ‘stay-at-home’ order was announced by Gov. Jim Justice, the Upshur County Board of Education presented their modified regular meeting Tuesday via teleconferencing – and invited are residents to ‘tune in’ to attend their gathering via a phone call video or teleconference.

Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus said along with BOE members, administrators and department heads, and approximately 20 others joined the meeting via the teleconference.

Stankus announced that the owner of A. F. Wendling’s Foodservice, Chris Wendling, made a substantial donation to Upshur County Schools on Monday. She said he had asked her to stop by the store.

“He said he just wanted to thank Upshur County Schools and our team for all we are doing for the community,” Stankus said. “He handed me an envelope and when I walked out to my car and opened it, it was a $5,000 donation to continue doing what we are doing.”

She said they are very thankful for the donation from the Wendling family.

Another announcement Stankus shared with the BOE was that, as of Tuesday, the Upshur County Schools Technology Team had created Wi-Fi access points that will be available to all Upshur County School Students.

“It will be available in the parking lots of each of our schools,” Stankus said. “Anyone can sign on to this by pulling into the parking lot of our schools. It will be called ‘pandemic’ and will not require a password and does not have any viruses. This will give students internet access in any of our school communities.”

She said this will allow students who do not have Wi-Fi at home to have access.

The final announcement Stankus shared was that on Tuesday, March 31, the schools will be making a multi-day delivery to the Upshur County Schools.

“We have engaged anyone who knows how to make a pizza in the restaurant to make pizzas for our students,” she said. “We are aiming for 2,000 pizzas that we will deliver on the school buses. We will see if we get there. Any restaurant in our community who makes pizza, if we haven’t called you already, we invite you to call us because we would like those pizzas by Tuesday.”

Stankus said the plan is to begin delivering the pizzas by 10 a.m. along with the packed breakfasts and lunches that will be delivered.

“This is just a way to engage our community and stimulate some of our businesses who have stepped in to help us,” she said. “We are very excited about this and so thankful for our community who are stepping in to help us. We have a great community.”

Facilities Director Tim Derico told BOE members the maintenance department has been able to complete a few things that would have needed to wait until summer but are being completed while students are not in the schools.

“We have also been trying to help out with the food deliveries,” Derico said. “Both roof projects are still progressing. The one at the high school had a leak the middle of last week and the company came right back out and did a repair. We set up a containment on the gym floor as well as dehumidifiers to keep from having any damage to the wood.”

George Carver, finance director for Upshur County Schools, said the audit of the books has been completed and was sent to the Federal Clearinghouse on Tuesday, adding there were no findings with the audit.

“The auditors have asked to present that report to the board at a future meeting, and we will try to schedule that down the road,” Carver reported. “Also, we go a letter back from the State Auditor’s Office approving our levy rates, so we will be good to go on April 21, 2020 when we reconvene the meeting to do final approval of those levy rates.”

In other business, the Upshur County BOE took the following actions:

  • Voted unanimously to approve the third reading of the proposed revised policy 4011.2 for alternative education policy: Personalized Alternative Learning Settings (PALS), noting there had not been any public comments presented since the last BOE meeting.
  • Voted unanimously to approve the e-rate bids. Carver said the bid was for wide-area internet service and that there were only two proposals and the recommendation was to continue with Suddenlink. He said the BOE has used Suddenlink for the last few years and, ‘they have provided very good service to us.’
  • Voted unanimously to approve a bid for one-to-one technology. Carver said the technology team made a presentation at the previous BOE meeting. He said financially, this would be taking money they are spending for other technology purchases and transferring it to pay for the lease on the proposal. Carver said the proposal fits into the perimeters of the budget and added that he, “sees some opportunities to save additional expenditures ranging from copier costs to textbooks and other technology costs, adding he didn’t think this expense would increase the budget.” BOE member Kristi Wilkerson said in the future, she hopes the BOE continues to ‘look at research and best practices because some school districts have returned to hard textbooks as a better teaching tool for students. Stankus thanked Wilkerson, saying she made a good point.
  • Voted unanimously at approve a bid for lawn care. Carver said bids were opened last week and three companies bid and two were the low bidders. “We have been successful in driving down our costs with the bidding,” Carver said, adding that one of the two companies is new. He said the other winning bidder, Stanton Lawn Service, has been providing services for three years to the BOE.
  • Voted unanimously to accept a bid for approval of a wastewater treatment plant. Derico said they received four bids, but only one vendor provided a ‘turn-key project.’ “The others only wanted to be the project manager, and another wanted to just provide materials, and we would have to hire someone for installation.” Derico said the one providing the turn-key bid is identical to the wastewater treatment plants at Union, Rock Cave and French Creek. Derico said the bid was for $162,450 and would be for Washington District Elementary School. Carver said there would also be an additional cost for relocating the access road to the wastewater treatment plant at WDES. The current wastewater treatment plant at WDES is more than 40 years old.
  • Voted unanimously to approve an agreement with the West Virginia Military Authority for the National Guard Future Leaders Program at Buckhannon-Upshur High School. Stankus said she believes the program would be a great addition to the high school, adding the community is very supportive of the program.
  • Voted unanimously to approve the personnel recommendations as presented by the superintendent with the exception of transferring Levi Bender from art teacher at BAES and B-UHS to art teacher at BAES and FCES effective for the 2020-2021 school year and transferring Hannah Lively from fifth-grade teacher at Rock Cave to elementary pre-K 5 teacher at RCES, effective with the opening of the school year 2020-2021. Both items were tabled until a future meeting.

The next meeting of the Upshur County BOE is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, April 14 at the Upshur County Board of Education office, located at 102 Smithfield St. in Buckhannon.

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