At its first meeting of 2020, the Jackson County Board of Education got mixed news on attendance for the first four months of school. While there was a net loss of six students in that time frame, the overall attendance rate was up from last year.

Jackson County Schools superintendent Blaine Hess reported that the year to date attendance rate was 94.3 percent, up slightly from the 94.05 percent during the same time period in 2018. The highest attendance was Gilmore Elementary at 95.6 percent and the lowest being Ravenswood High School at 92.75 percent.

Hess said there are several factors that impact attendance.

“We keep in close contact with the parents,” Hess explained. “We have a calling system that follows up on student absences. Also, the schools have incentives to encourage attendance as well. It’s a simple fact that for a student to achieve, being in the classroom is essential.”

Updates on the status and needs of Jackson County schools will be presented to the board in February.

The Local School Improvement Councils (LSIC) will give reports on academics, highlights of the school year to date, and challenges being faced. Board members expressed particular interest in hearing about academics.

The West Virginia Department of Education only requires LSIC reports from schools designated as “needs improvement.”

“We have no schools with the ‘needs improvement’ designation,” Hess said. “But our board is still very interested in hearing from each school so we will continue to hold those meetings.”

Following a behind doors executive session to discuss personnel, the board made the following decisions:

• Retirements – Sally Laine, Kenna Elementary, effective July 1, 2020

• Resignations – Jennifer Erin Steele-Staats, Teacher, Ripley High, effective Dec. 20, 2019; Alyssa Brozak, girls soccer coach Ravenswood High, effective Dec. 13, 2019; Christopher Knopp, HVAC/Electrical/General Maintenance, effective Dec. 30, 2019

• Transfers – Mildred Williams, Cafeteria Manager/Cook III at Ripley Elementary to Cook III at Cottageville Elementary, effective Jan. 3, 2020; Heidi Bragg, Cook III (half-time) Ripley Middle to Cook III (half-time) Kenna Elementary, effective Jan. 3, 2020; Draina Eagle, Cook III (half-time) Ripley Elementary to Cook III (half-time) Ravenswood Middle, effective Jan. 3, 2020; Jennifer Fields, Itinerant Multi-Categorical Special Education to Itinerant Multi-Categorical with Autism Special Education effective Jan. 6, 2020; Krista Baker, Teacher grade 1 to grade 3 Kenna Elementary, effective beginning 2020-21 school term; Tommy Smith Mechanic, Transportation to Temporary Chief Mechanic Transportation, effective Jan.3, 2020

• Employments – Keith Freshour, Bus Operator Route #18, effective Jan. 3, 2020; Kathy Simmons, Substitute on as needed basis, effective for the 2019-20 school year; Hunter Halstead, Technology Systems Specialist, effective Jan. 27, 2020; Sheri Pursley, substitute teacher for 2019-20 school term; James Burgess, Temporary Bus Operator Route #35 until the return of the regular employee or the status of the job changes, effective Jan. 3, 2020

In other business:

• Recognized students from Ripley Elementary whose art work will be on display at the State Capitol during January as part of the Governor’s Art Academy

• Approved contract for $9,400 with Conrad Morgan LLC for demolition of a house located on Second Street in Cottageville

• Set March 27 as the date for a surplus property sale

• Approved purchase of ipads for use in elementary schools

• Reviewed proposed policies to be voted upon at Jan. 16 meeting

The board will meet in a special session on Jan. 9 to conduct a student expulsion hearing. The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16.