Board holds off on coaching decision

BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Board of Education postponed a decision to hire a head basketball coach at Tuesday’s meeting.
The board had been presented with a recommendation from superintendent Roy Wager to hire Travis Foster, a long-time basketball coach in the area, after the resignation of Eli Gurash at Buckhannon-Upshur High School.
However, school employee Paula Snyder asked the board to consider all the choices.
“I’m here to ask you to postpone this until you can take a further look at the name that is going to be before you tonight,” she said. “I believe that there is some controversy on that and some things you need to look into as a board.”
Snyder did not elaborate but noted that she had played basketball in high school and attended Glenville State on a basketball scholarship.
“I’m looking for the best one to give back to our kids, whoever is best at the position,” she said. “I really believe that we need to take a look not for a coach but for somebody that is going to do the best for our students.
“We have asked for a new face in Upshur County. There are a lot of new faces out there and a lot of old faces that have given a lot to this community. They deserve to be looked at for our kids.”
Snyder said she wasn’t blaming anybody in particular but claimed Upshur County sports teams have not been very good, with a few exceptions.
“I’m blaming ourselves, because we haven’t taken a look at what is really needed in this county,” she said. “I ask you this evening to do what you have to do and postpone it. Basketball doesn’t start until November. The three-week program started yesterday.”
The board had already planned to meet in executive session for personnel,  and board vice president Alan Suder made a motion to move the meeting behind closed doors. Joining Suder were board president Dr. Tammy Samples,  member Carl “Robbie” Martin, assistant superintendent Jack Reger and Wager. Board members Dr. Greenbrier Almond and Katie Loudin were absent.
About 30 minutes later, the board called B-UHS principal Eddie Vincent and vice principal/athletic director Rick Reynolds into the executive session. Vincent, Reynolds, Wager and Reger met with the board for 45 minutes, and then the elected officials met alone for another 10 minutes before re-entering into regular session.
Samples asked for a motion to approve the personnel list. Suder made a motion to accept the list but asked that the basketball coach at B-UHS be tabled. The motion passed unanimously.
Foster, who has coached middle school basketball in the past, declined to comment.
Board members also heard preliminary information about the employee incentive program which just ended its first year. The purpose of the program was to reduce the number of employee absences.
Samples noted an upward trend in the last year.
“We know that attendance was up and absences are down, so that is a positive,” she said.
Business manager George Carver noted that less people qualified this year than expected, which was counter-intuitive.
“I believe it had an impact, but I think it would have a greater impact if we changed it from having no absences to also encourage accumulation of sick days over a longer period of time,” Carver said. “I will try to give you some options for that.”
Wager noted that with the zero absence policy, employees who missed just one day wouldn’t get any incentive. He suggested the board consider adding incentives for one or two absences.
In other business,
p Wager announced that Gabby Rhodes, a teacher at Union Elementary School, would receive a $5,000 grant as part of a partnership with RESA 6 and 7 and the Claude Worthington Foundation’s Intermediate Unit in Pennsylvania.
This will be the second year for Rhodes’ Girls Excelling in Math and Science program.
p Reger reported that the West Virginia National Guard will be excavating at the B-UMS Softball field this month.
p The school system has received word there needs to be a fire hydrant within 500 feet of Rock Cave Elementary School.
A 6-inch water line runs by the school, but the school will have to see if it meets pressure requirements for fire hydrant, Reger told the board. The school system will have to purchase the hydrant, but Reger said the installation should be free.
p The board canceled its June 27 meeting and will meet again for a statutory meeting Monday, July 3 at 7 p.m. at the board of education office.

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