Board tackles summer plans and August opening of schools

Suzette Lowe
Jackson Newspapers

When the official school year ends for teachers and students, summer work begins. Even with the unique situation this year, this process still holds true.

All employees hired for extended contracts, exceeding 200 days, were scheduled to report for work on Tuesday, May 26. These include many central office staff and principals, among others.

During the summer, many projects will proceed as well. For that reason, the Board of Education approved a contract with Family Carpet, by a vote of 4-1, in the amount of $19,446 for flooring projects at the administrative office, Cottageville Elementary, Gilmore Elementary, Ravenswood Grade, Ripley Elementary, and Ripley Middle schools. A $14,160 contract for HVAC cleaning and sanitizing with Partners Too Inc, dba Stanley Steemer was also approved.

At the May 21 meeting, board members were informed that the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) approved the county’s 2020-21 submitted school calendar. Students will begin school on August 13 and, barring any inclement weather or other factors, will end on June 1.

Superintendent Blaine Hess, when questioned about the possibility of any changes due to COVID-19, said that the status of the virus will be considered closer to that time.

Discussion was also held on the importance of the school-based probation officer. This position, whose salary is shared by the local board and a grant from the WVDE, has the task of intervention with students who have poor attendance.

“Our officer, Nora Kyer, meets with a large number of students,” Hess said. “Some she focuses on with contracts to try to get these students to improve their attendance before the truancy has to head to court.”

Hess informed the board regarding some definite plans for the 2020-21 school year, while acknowledging that plans have to be “fluid and preparation is needed for as many scenarios as possible.”

While not required by the state until 2021-2022, Jackson County will be providing AED defibrillators at each sporting event in the upcoming school year.

“There’s no reason to wait for this important addition that affects our students,” Hess said. “We have the funds now.”

Consideration is also being given to installing hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass around reception areas in schools.

“These are not concrete plans yet,” Hess explained. “We also may be looking at changing water fountains.”

As far as extracurricular activities this summer, the local board has to wait for direction from the state.

“Opening of gyms and weight rooms, for example, is for private businesses, not schools,” Hess said. “Our high school bands won’t be participating in the 4th of July parade because they haven’t been able to practice. We are also waiting to hear from the SSAC regarding sports.”

Hess said that the myriad of scenarios for the opening of school in August are going to have input from various groups.

“We’ll start at administrators, then have teachers take a look,” he said. “Finally we’ll ask parents. The more eyes on the plans, the better.”

Summer school will be different from past years as well. All classes will be remote learning. As with many counties, the main obstacle is internet access.

“We are trying to address this,” Hess said. “We’re working with AEP to get possible hotspots in various areas of the county. It’s a complicated process.”

Principals are also being tasked with providing a needs assessment for each of their schools. Each state board of education received funds to be dispersed to each local board. The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act will be applied to nine focused areas.

“These range from social and emotional wellness to child nutrition and technology,” Hess said. “These decisions, along with all the others facing us, will make for a very busy summer.”

In other business, board members Bobbi Farrell, Dan Barnette, Steve Chancey, Ben Mize, and Frazier:

• Reported Graduation ceremonies at Ripley and Ravenswood High Schools will be June 26

• Had a second reading of a number of proposed revised policies which will be voted on at the next regular meeting (policies are available for review at

• Approved a contract with Englefield Oil for fuel at a discount rate of 11 cents per gallon regular and diesel at the BP station by McDonalds

• Approved a contract with Par Mar Oil for fuel at a discount rate of 0.105 per gallon regular and diesel at the Par Mar Store in Ravenswood

• Approved the purchase of Apple MacBooks for teacher use in the amount $51,036

• Heard that a paving issue with Wolfe Creek Contracting Company had been resolved with the company absorbing the cost

• Were presented a letter from a grandparent thanking Hess and Jackson County schools for providing a good secondary education for her grandson who has been accepted at Shepherd University

In personnel:

• Retirements: Deborah J. Young, Cook III Ravenswood Grade effective July 1, 2020.

• Resignations: James Carney, summer maintenance program, effective April 24, 2020; Mildred Williams, summer maintenance program, effective April 20, 2020; Keri Starcher, assistant girls track coach, Ripley High effective May 14, 2020

• Transfers: Ashley Casto to Custodian III, Cottageville Elementary/Ravenswood Middle School; Megan Patterson to paraprofessional/aide, Kenna Elementary; Kristy Riggs to itinerant paraprofessional/aide/autism mentor Ravenswood Middle/Ravenswood High; Mildred Williams to cafeteria manager/cook III Cottageville Elementary; Jody Melhorn to 3rd grade teacher Ripley Elementary; Melissa Harbin to Title 1 half-time Cottageville Elementary and half-time Ravenswood Grade; Gwendolyn Richards to 2nd grade teacher Fairplain Elementary; Kristy Hatcher to kindergarten teacher Kenna Elementary; Shalena Settle to 2nd grade teacher Kenna Elementary; Sarah Miller and Stacy Raines to Title 1 teachers Ripley Elementary; Konda Casto to mail clerk/clerk II/switchboard operator/receptionist county office/Ripley Elementary

• Employments effective 2020-21 school term: Kimberly Sheets, social media manager; Kim Rhodes, custodian II half-time Ripley Elementary; Robert J. Knox, wrestling coach and assistant volleyball coach Ravenswood Middle; Jarin Anderson, assistant girls basketball coach Ravenswood Middle; Michael Schnell, track coach Ravenswood Middle; Julye Knox, volleyball coach Ravenswood Middle; Victor Boyce, boys soccer coach Ripley High; Elizabeth A. Burdette, cheerleading coach Ripley Middle; Kendra Brader, kindergarten teacher Henry J. Kiser; Michelle Nelson, Title 1 teacher Henry J. Kaiser, Laura Blain, Title 1 teacher half-time Henry J. Kiser; Candise Anderson, multi-categorical with autism teacher Kenna Elementary; Samantha Faber, 1st grade teacher Kenna Elementary; Katelyn Hess and Kerigan Gandee, Title 1 teachers Ravenswood Grade; Janie Sinnett and Nicholas Pease, multi-categorical with autism teachers Ripley Middle

• Employments for on-line elementary summer school, intensive elementary summer school program, special education teacher for extended school year, teachers for secondary summer school program, school website managers and summer food program may be found at

• Other: Kimberly A. Hunt, leave of absence summer maintenance program and Angela Southall, leave of absence summer maintenance program, bot effective summer 2020; Morad/Hughes, provider for new employee employment physicals (excluding bus operators) and drug test at $50 for both tests per employee from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021

The next regular meeting of the board will be at 7 p.m. on June 11 at the administration building.