BUCKHANNON — All members of the Upshur County Board of Education were able to gather in person Tuesday evening for a brief meeting to hear updates from each department and consider the contract extension of Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus.
The meeting began with the Superintendent recognizing outstanding “Upshur Stars” from Union Elementary School. Dr. Stankus commended UES staff members Cecelia Stewart, Emily Morris and Elizabeth McClain for not only excelling in their jobs, but for going above and beyond to offer help and support during such trying times. Each Star received a plaque and praise from the BOE.
Jake Bowman, Buckhannon-Upshur High School Student Body President, attended the meeting as a representative for B-UHS students. He updated members of the board on the successes of students returning to in-person instruction over the past week. Bowman shared, “It has been nothing short of fantastic. We social distance well, and we’re getting right back to learning, which I think is very important.”
Following, Jeff Perkins presented a financial report to the BOE. They briefly discussed data on budgetary items, payment of the bills, and projections of the Levy expenses. Board members approved the report.
Next, a technology update was given by Kayla Yocum. She informed the board members that Help Desk tickets continue to be resolved, as the Technology Department is dedicated to helping students and families having complications with technology. Yocum explained that they are able to provide a great deal of fast support now that most students are attending schools for in-person instruction. She believes students and staff are becoming much more comfortable with the technology. Before concluding, Yocum also added that “Tech Tips” are now listed on the Upshur County School’s website to provide useful tools and tricks to help working with technology run more efficiently.
As Dr. Jeff Harvey was unable to attend the meeting, Perkins gave his brief Safety and Preparedness update. Harvey’s report indicated that, after receiving nine new vials of the vaccine, all teachers and staff members who accepted the vaccination will have at least their first vaccination by Friday.
Jody Johnson then gave an update on remote learning and student achievement. Johnson was happy to report that more and more students are transiting back to in-person instruction after being full-time remote. As there are still a number of students who are full-time remote, Johnson works closely with Yocum to ensure the students are getting help where they need it, and to ensure the most possible success with online students. Students without reliable access to internet have been coming into schools on Wednesdays to download upcoming lessons, and to upload their completed work. As the year progresses, more and more online students are reportedly making the switch to returning to schools.
After going into executive session, the BOE approved the following personnel changes: the employment of Donna Walton as transportation aide, Sherri Castle as substitute teacher, Soran Jenkins as substitute cook, Savannah Hoffman as restricted substitute teacher, Paula Stone as substitute aide, Joyce Pumphrey as substitute cook, Carrie Lee as substitute transportation aide, Joshua Oldaker as substitute custodian and cook, and John O’Hara as substitute teacher.
The board also approved the resignation of Bill Smith as full-time temporary custodian, as well as the retirements of Cheryl Poling as transitional teacher, Patricia Wager as arts teacher at B-UHS, and Duane Stoeckle as social studies teacher and football coach at B-UHS.
To conclude the meeting, the BOE announced that they approved a three-year contract extension for Superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus. The approved year one salary still ranks Upshur County at the bottom of the state’s Superintendent salaries, coming in at 43rd out of the 55 counties. Following a great deal of success, Dr. Stankus is eager and grateful to continue her service. “I am honored to have been selected to serve an additional three years in partnership with our Upshur County Board of Education. Working in collaboration, we will continue to facilitate the best educational opportunities for students and families. Together, with our community, we will continue Upshur Strong,” Dr. Stankus expressed.
The next regular Board of Education meeting will take place at B-UHS on Tuesday, March 23 at 7:00 p.m.