With the 2020 school year ending in such an unexpected way, the Jackson County Board of Education has begun making plans for the summer and the upcoming school year.

One of the most important steps was to pass a balanced budget.

“I want to thank Lora Matheny and her team for giving us a balanced budget,” Superintendent Blaine Hess said. “It’s always good to start a new year in the black.”

One budget area that pleased school board member Jim Frazier was the increase in pay for certain school employees.

“It’s good to know that, with this last approval, we’ve given increases to every employee in the last two years,” he said.

Student meals were also a topic of interest at the May 7 meeting attended in person by Bobbi Ferrell, Ben Mize, and Dan Barnette. Attending by phone were Steve Chancey and Frazier.

Hess informed the board that meals will continue to be distributed to students until the end of school. There will be a gap of one week following the end of school until the summer meal program begins.

Breakfasts and lunches will be prepared at Ripley Elementary and Ravenswood Middle/High School from June 15 through July 31. Two bus drivers will deliver the meals to areas of highest need. Meals will not be available on June 20 (West Virginia Day) or July 4. It is not expected that any meals will be served in the school building due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

“There is also good news from the state,” Hess said. “Every child in elementary and middle school, regardless of income, will receive $313 per month for food on an EBT card. While every high school student will not receive that amount, some will be financially eligible.”

With the change in employment for many, Hess suggested that families may want to check to see if they are now eligible for that assistance.

“Times have changed for many people,” he said. “It would be worth checking on eligibility.”

Celebration of the graduating senior class was also addressed. Graduation and prom are concerns for all those involved.

“The City of Ripley and Ravenswood are both planning parades to honor the graduates,” Hess said. “Both will be May 29 with Ravenswood at 6 p.m. and Ripley at 6:30 p.m.”

Hess said that graduation ceremonies are set for June 26 for both Ripley and Ravenswood High School. There are three scenarios for those events.

“Ideally we want Plan A to be the one we follow,” he said. “This would be a traditional graduation on the football fields following social distancing rules. Although the entire board attends graduations, this year we would split between the two.”

If that plan is not allowed, two other options are in place.

“Plan B is to have small groups in the auditoriums, following any guidelines on number of people allowed in the same space at the same time,” he explained. “This will take much longer but it would be in person. Our third option is a virtual graduation.”

If social distancing allows, proms for both schools would be held on the day following graduation.

“I’m very proud of our high schools with their recognition of seniors,” Hess said. “Ravenswood High has made posters and yard signs. Ripley High has a field of signs on the bank in front of the high school. They’re trying to make it as special as possible.”

In other business, board members:

• Approved salary schedule for administration, teachers, service personnel, extracurricular, and substitute teachers

• Approved a contract with Gene’s Septic Tank Cleaning LLC for $9,400 to provide septic tank cleaning for 2020-21 school term

• Approved a contract with Partners Too Inc. dba Stanley Steemer Dunbar, for $10,322 to provide carpet cleaning

• Approved a contract with Blue Ridge Termite & Pest Control LLC for $4,512 to provide monthly pest inspections

• Approved a contract with Jamie Tolley for $301.77 to cut and remove hay from the property located behind the Transportation on Church Street in Ripley

• Approved a contract with ZMM Architects and Engineers for an amount not to exceed $20,000 to provide services pertaining to repairs of the Ripley High School Annex

• Approved four change orders with Wolf Creek Contracting Company regarding various construction projects

• Approved the superintendent’s plan to offer surplus MacBook Air laptop computers for sale to graduating seniors, followed by members of the general public, for $250 per device.

• Approved a number of policy changes upon third reading directed by state board policy or changes in state code

• Reviewed for first reading of revised policies directed by state board policy or changes in state code

• Rescheduled the June 4, 2020 board meeting to June 11.

In personnel:

• Retirements: Edwin E. Staats, bus operator, effective July 1, 2020; James C. Casto, general maintenance, effective July 1, 2020

• Transfers: Kim Herron from Grade 2 teacher to Grade 3 teacher Kenna Elementary; Shayla Dobbs from special education Evans Elementary to special education Ripley Elementary; Tanya Sinnett from Title 1 teacher, Henry J. Kiser to Grade 1 teacher Henry J. Kiser (all effective 2020-21 school term); Debra Casto from mail clerk/clerk/switchboard operator/receptionist to executive secretary county office effective May 18, 2020; Timothy Hafer from custodian III Cottageville Elementary/Ravenswood Middle to Custodian IV Ravenswood Middle effective July 1, 2020; Mary V. Roush from cafeteria manager Cottageville Elementary to Cook III Evans Elementary effective July 1, 2020

• Employment effective 2020-21 school term: Mallory Hilton, Grade 5 teacher Ravenswood Grade; Chelsea Miller Grade 4 teacher Fairplain Elementary; Colleen Worley Grade 3 teacher Gilmore Elementary; Kelli Fisher, cheerleading coach Ripley High; Bettina Jarvis, cheerleading assistance coach Ripley High; John F. Cummings III, assistant baseball coach Ripley High; Gary Barnard, assistance baseball coach Ripley High, Melissa Scarberry, assistant tennis coach Ripley High; Carrol Gandee, baseball coach Ripley Middle and assistant boys basketball coach Ripley Middle

• Employment: Cheryl Ellis, executive secretary county office, 260 days effective May 18, 2020; Kati Skeen, executive secretary county office 260 days, effective May 18, 2020; Tina Miller, cook III half-time, Ravenswood Middle July 1.

• Extracurricular Employment – extensive list available at boe.jack.k12.wv.us

The next meeting of the Board of Education will be at 7 p.m. May 21 at the Administrative Building.