BOE addresses athletic budgets, re-entry concerns

Suzette Lowe
Reporter
Susan Swisher, Ripley Elementary, 37 years

Jackson County Board of Education members expressed some concerns regarding the athletic budgets for the county’s middle and high schools in the upcoming school year.

Questions raised by Steve Chancey and Jim Frazier included the disparity in the budgets of the two high schools. Ripley High School’s budget is $76,500, a decrease of $13,500 from 2019-20, while Ravenswood High’s budget is $81,650, the same amount as last year.

After a lengthy discussion, at the Aug. 6 meeting, the board ultimately approved the budgets. Superintendent Blain Hess stated that all schools were asked to be frugal with expenses as income from attendance is unsure.

Hess told the board that he has submitted an approximate $400,000 grant to the West Virginia Department of Education. If awarded, 1,000 student homes located in areas that have cell service but no internet would become hot spots. In addition, 20 cradlepoints would be placed in areas where multiple student devices could log on to access their work.

“Any internet service the board provides will only link to Jackson County school devices,” Hess said. “Access will be highly filtered.”

With Governor Jim Justice’s recent announcement regarding metric system, color coding, and employee options, Hess said clarification would be needed.

“Unfortunately, the governor made it seem like employee attendance choices were wide-open,” he said. “The basic law hasn’t changed.”

Hess explained that the Families First Corona Virus Act does make paid leave available for health anxiety, but only for 10 workdays. Certain circumstances may allow an extension up to 12 weeks. The Americans with Disabilities Act addresses reasonable accommodation for medical conditions. In addition, if by the second week of October, small class size can dictate a teacher being moved to another position.

According to Hess, many questions remain unanswered or the information is ambiguous.

Justice also said a metric color-coded system would be released which could impact school re-entry plans.

“One of the biggest issues is that our re-entry plan is due at the state board on Aug. 14, the same day the governor’s plan is being released,” Hess said.

Because the board already adopted a color-coded model for in-school attendance, Hess suggested that the governor’s metric system should be compared.

One further area of concern Frazier addressed focused on the virtual school option. As of the meeting, 454 students have enrolled in the program.

“I’m still worried about students who enroll in virtual school being committed for a semester after the 14-day grace period,” he said.

Hess pointed out that the required orientation for parents and students will be key to understanding the requirements and responsibilities of virtual schools students.

At the beginning of the meeting, retirees were honored by board members Bobbi Ferrell, Dan Barnette, Ben Mize, Chancey, and Frazier.

Teachers Radonna Hess, Susan Swisher, Amy Poe Williams, Ellen McEldowny, Bonnie Harrison, and bus operator Edwin Staats were recognized.

After the meeting was adjourned, parent Joe Shockey addressed the board. Shockey, who had missed the set time to speak during the public forum, was permitted to express his concerns.

Shockey passionately asked the board to think creatively when considering the upcoming school year. He stressed the importance of children, including his own son, being in a classroom setting. His worries also involved those who attend vocational education where hands-on instruction is vital.

In personnel items, the board approved:

• Resignations: Jeanette Bowlby, band auxiliary sponsor Ripley High; Ryan Carter, assistant principal Ripley Middle; Tammy Webb and Kelly Donohew, substitute cooks; and Jenna Schindler, cheerleading coach Ravenswood Middle

• Transfers: Colin Cummings, special education multi-educational with autism Ravenswood High to itinerant physical education teacher; Charmin McCarty, special education multi-categorical with autism, Evans Elementary to kindergarten, Ripley Elementary; Tarah Clark, language arts Ripley Middle to technology integration specialist countywide; Jessica Spears, special education multi-categorical with autism Ripley Elementary to fifth-grade teacher Ravenswood Grade

• Employments: Toni Burks, math/business teacher Ravenswood High; Christina L. Crowder, substitute nurse; Rhonda Baisden, substitute secretary; Roy Bennett Jr., assistant archery coach Ripley Middle; Sydney Casto, Title 1 teacher, part-time, Ravenswood Grade; and Carrie Hood, third grade Ravenswood Grade

• Retirements: Lori Mahan, second-grade teacher Ripley Elementary

• Other: Tamara Clarkson, intermittent family medical leave effective Aug. 24 through Dec. 24, 2020

The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20 at the board office.

Ellen McEldowney, Henry J. Kaiser, 37 years