BOE votes to change School Re-Entry Plan

Suzette Lowe
Dr. Scott Tignor, Ravenswood High band director, is recognized as a recipient of the Artsbridge Janet Frazier Award for Excellence by Superintendent Blaine Hess and Board President Bobbi Ferrell.

At the end of a lengthy meeting, the Jackson County Board of Education rescinded the original re-entry plan approved at the Aug. 3 meeting.

In a 4-1 vote, the board voted to move up the time frame to have students attend five days in person.

Steve Chancey was the lone board member who voted against the proposal. Chancey stated that he had made his position of five-day attendance clear at the Aug. 3 meeting.

The first week of school (Sept. 8-11), students will attend one day a week based on the first letter of their last name. Two days a week will be the schedule for the second and third weeks of school (Sept. 7-18). The fourth week (Sept. 24-28) will see students in the classroom five days.

Discussion was held on approving a plan for elementary schools that would differ from secondary schools. Ultimately it was agreed that a consistent plan would be more feasible.

Superintendent of Schools Blaine Hess said there was an advantage to the adopted plan.

“The board will meet during the re-entry month,” he said. “This will give time to make any changes necessary based on the information we will have.”

Board president Bobbi Ferrell, when discussion began regarding a possible change, said for her it came down to opportunity.

“Our smaller elementary schools can follow all the guidelines pretty well,” she said. “I think we’re failing our kids if we don’t give them this opportunity if we think it can be done safely.”

Virtual school is still an option for students. As of the Aug. 20 meeting, 870 students had enrolled in virtual school. Students who opt for this form of education now have until Sept. 30, rather than the original Sept. 14, to choose to go back to the regular classroom.

The West Virginia COVID-19 map which ultimately dictates if a county school’s system can open in-person or must be totally virtual was a major factor in determining the board’s change in re-entry plans.

Parent Joe Shockey, who spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting, encouraged the board to allow students to attend school. After the meeting ended, Shockey said he was encouraged by the decision.

“This is much better for families,” he said. “It’s definitely better for students to be in a classroom with a teacher. I appreciate the board being willing to work with the community.”

A request was brought before the board from the city of Ravenswood.

Jared Bloxton, city recorder, and Katrena Ramsey with Ravenswood Parks & Recreation, presented a proposal for resurfacing the tennis court and adding a new fence. The request for the board was $32,000 to go towards the $38,897 total cost. The board currently pays a user fee to Ravenswood that goes towards needs at Henry J. Kaiser, Ravenswood High, and Ravenswood Middle.

“We are asking for a one-time increase of that user fee,” Bloxton said.

Once the board receives a formal request from Ravenswood Mayor Josh Miller, the matter will be considered.

Two educators, Bonnie Pate and Dr. Scott Tignor, were honored at the beginning of the meeting.

Pate retired as a teacher from Kenna Elementary with 33 years of service. Tignor, Ravenswood High band director, was recognized as the recipient of the Janet Frazier Award for Excellence. The award, given by Artsbridge for excellence in teaching in the fine arts, comes with a $500 prize to purchase supplies for the classroom.

In other business, board members Jim Frazier, Dan Barnette, Ben Mize, Chancey, and Ferrell:

• Approved school support organizations for the 2020-21 school term

• Approved change order for $1,263 for Ripley High School annex repairs

• Approved a contract with Wildlife Removal Service, Inc. for $7,500 for pest removal and facility exclusion strategy at Ripley High main building

• Approved a memorandum of understanding with Westbrook Health Services to provide school-based behavioral health services

• Approved the following to transfer of children from other county school systems: Ronald and Debbie Ryan, Steve and Jennifer Nichols, Rodney and Laura Greathouse (all Roane County); Lindsay Minardi (Harrison County); Laura Blain and Stephanie Triplett (both Mason County).

In personnel matters:

• Retirement: Linda Hatfield, sixth-grade teacher Ravenswood Middle

• Resignations: Tim Young, fifth-grade teacher Ripley Elementary effective Aug. 7, 2020; James C. Abshire Jr., substitute teacher effective Aug. 11, 2020; Steve Sturm, assistant varsity football coach Ravenswood High, effective Aug. 17, 2020; Andrew Bourgeois, teacher business cooperative education program, Ravenswood High effective Aug. 7, 2020

• Transfers: Alyssia Ruben, special education multi-categorical to fifth-grade teacher Ripley Elementary; Larry Fizer from bus operator Route #08 to Route #29; Melvin Rhodes, custodian III Ravenswood High to mason/carpenter II/general maintenance; Jonathan Melhorn, assistant principal Ripley Elementary to assistant principal Ripley Middle; Kelli Hall, fifth-grade teacher Fairplain Elementary to itinerant elementary counselor/elementary alternative school program countywide

• Employments: Warren Starcher, bus operator trainer; Jeffrey A. Tabor, soccer coach, Ronald C. Morrison, assistant soccer coach, Timothy Luke Parsons, wresting coach, Eric Staats, all at Ripley Middle; Eric Staats, band auxiliary sponsor, Ripley High; Cara Moore, cheerleader coach, Mallory Hilton, assistant cheerleading coach, Adam Hill, assistant junior varsity football coach, all at Ravenswood High; Kayla Richardson, social studies teacher, Ripley Middle; Diane Forman, itinerant elementary counselor countywide

• Other: Vanessa J. Carte, leave of absence for infant bonding; Rebecca Anderson, medical leave of absence; Tamara Clarkson, rescindment of intermittent family medical leave; Kathy Hudson, extension of contract for 10 half-days for placement/supervision of business cooperative education students Ravenswood High; James Groves, authorized certified soccer coach Ripley High; Earl A. Scholl, authorized certified soccer coach and Zachariah J. Milhoan, authorized certified football coach, both at Ripley Middle; Ending date for the summer meals program changed from Aug. 28 to Aug. 21; Steven Williams, authorized certified football coach Ravenswood High; Brady Bowling, authorized certified football coach Ravenswood Middle

The next regular meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 3 at the county office, with a special meeting to begin at 6 p.m. for the purpose of discussion and review of the comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan.

Hess informed the board that the school system had been awarded a $320,000 grant from the West Virginia Department of Education to give internet access to 1,000 student’s homes.

“Cell service capability is a requirement,” Hess said. “We will be working on the protocols regarding selection of those students soon.”

Bonnie Pate, pictured with Superintendent Blaine Hess and Board President Bobbi Ferrell, retires with 33 years of service.