The 2019 special session of the West Virginia Legislature resulted in bills that directly impact policies of the Jackson County Board of Education.

In its Jan. 16 meeting, board members Bobbi Farrell, Jim Frazier, Ben Mize, Dan Barnette, and Steve Chancey discussed at length proposed personnel policies dictated by Senate Bill 632.

Of greatest concern was the role that seniority would play in reduction in force, commonly known as RIFs. Both Barnette and Frazier questioned any policy change that would impact seniority.

“I just have a problem with that,” Barnette said.

Jay Carnell, Assistant Superintended of Schools, explained that seniority would still be a factor in determining RIFs.

“Seniority will continue to play a part,” he said. “It just won’t be the only thing considered when making the decisions. Legislative action is what drives this change in our policy.”

After further brief discussion, the board unanimously approved 12 revised policies.

Additional policy revisions were brought to the board for information purposes. The changes to the adoption of instructional materials will be voted on at the Feb. 6 meeting with the others being voted upon on Feb. 20.

One policy, Defining Qualifications for Professional Personnel (3131.05), raised a question.

Superintendent of Schools, Blaine Hess, explained that the criteria which will be used for any reduction are seniority, certification, and performance evaluations.

“These three, from the list we were given to choose from, were the least subjective,” Hess stated. “They were also the ones suggested by the State Superintendent of Schools.”

One board member questioned omitting one of the possible criteria.

“I don’t understand why we aren’t including Certification by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards,” Frazier said. “I know how hard some of our people have worked to gain that certification.”

All policies being considered for revision can be found at boe.jack.k12.wv.us.

Another legislative action that impacts local schools is the requirement to place cameras in certain special education classrooms.

Hess stated that several questions and issues have arisen statewide regarding this policy.

“We’re on hold regarding enacting this directive until the legislature gives clarity to many issues,” he said.

Hess also informed the board that the expected $600,000 reduction in state funds for the next school year cause an impact to Jackson County schools. This loss of funds is tied directly to loss of student enrollment.

“We are down a little over 100 students as of Oct. 1, 2019, which is the date when the official count is taken for the next school year,” Hess said. “Since personnel costs comprise the majority of our budget, that is where the majority of the cuts will have to come.”

In other business:

• The Board approved a request from Lia Rennie for her children to attend Jackson County Schools rather than Kanawha County Schools for the 2019-2020 school term.

• Three out of state trips were approved for Ripley Middle School Archery students: Millersburg, Ohio on Feb. 20; Stewart, Ohio on Feb. 8; and Reedsville, Ohio on Feb 29; also approved was Fairplain Elementary School students to go to Cumberland, Ohio on May 22.

• The Board learned of the State Fire Marshal approval for use of temporary door locking devices. The We Care groups has raised $40,000 to help pay for these safety measures.

• An agreement was approved with the 95 Percent Group in the amount of $16,160.50 for Professional Development Services.

• The Board approved a contract with Newtech Systems, Inc. in the amount of $15,323.03 for a fire alarm system for the Ravenswood High School old gym and facilities building.

Personnel matters:

• Retirements: Ginger Mullins – Teacher, Fairplain Elementary, effective July 1, 2020; Sandy Smith, Teacher Title I, Ripley Elementary, effective July 1, 2020; Bonnie Pate, Teacher Special Education, Kenna Elementary, effective July 1, 2020; Rosalee Casto, Teacher, Kenna Elementary, effective July 1, 2020; Rhonda L. Baisden, Executive Secretary County Office, effective July 1, 2020.

• Resignations: Christina Phillips, Teacher, Kenna Elementary School, effective June 30, 2020; Ryne Hill, Assistant Softball Coach, Ripley Middle School, effective Jan. 3, 2020.

• Transfers: Brooke Hosaflook from Cook III, half-time, to Cafeteria Manager/Cook III, Ripley Elementary School, effective Jan. 17, 2020; Draina Eagle, from Cook III, half-time, Ravenswood Middle to Cook III, half-time, Ripley Middle School, effective beginning 2020-2021 school term; Dwayne W. Merritt, from Teacher Autism, Ravenswood High School to Itinerant Teacher Autism, Ripley High School, effective for the 2020-2021 school term; Gwendolyn Richards, from Teacher Special Education MOMI, Ripley Elementary to Itinerant Teacher Special Education, Multi-Categorical with Autism, effective for the 2020-2021 school term; Kelly Hinzman, from Teacher Title I, Henry J. Kaiser Elementary School to Teacher Title I, Gilmore Elementary School, effective for the 2020-2021 school term.

• Employments: Miranda Parsons Teacher, After School Tutoring and/or Detention Program, Ripley Middle School, on an as-needed basis, at a rate of $25/hour, effective for the 2019-2020 school term; Kelly E. Rake, Substitute Counselor, on an as-needed basis, effective for the 2019-2020 school term; Sheree Gandee, Cook III, half-time, Ripley Elementary School, effective Jan. 17, 2020; Steve Sayre, Head Varsity Football Coach, Ripley High School, effective for the 2020-2021 school term; Ryne Hill, Head Softball Coach, Ripley Middle School, effective for the 2019-2020 school term; Teachers to serve on the County Textbook/Instructional Resources Adoption Committee effective for the 2019-2020 term: Lola Smith, Neil LoPrinzi, Patrick Popp, Rachelle Bennett (Art); Dave Rader (Driver Education); Chandra McCoy-Gray, Melissa Campbell, Hannah Hoffman, Steve Lough (Health/Wellness); Scott Greathouse, Hillary Groves, Susan Matheny, John Ryder, and Forrest Fitzpatrick (Music).

• Approval: Adam Rutter, Authorized Certified Coach, Wrestling, Ravenswood Middle School and Ravenswood High School, effective 2019-2020 school term.

A special meeting of the board was convened at 5 p.m. on Jan. 9 for the purpose of conducting a student expulsion hearing. A 27-minute behind closed doors executive session resulted, upon reconvening, the he board approved the Superintendent’s recommendation to expel the student from school for twelve months from Jan. 10, 2020 through Jan. 9, 2021 for violations of WV Code 18A-5-1a, a Level 4 violation of WV State Board of Education Policy 4373, and Jackson County Board of Education Policy 5500.

The next meeting of the Board will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 at the central board office.