BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Board of Education met Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. in the Buckhannon-Upshur High School (B-UHS). All members were present, either in person, or through the conference call. The public was permitted to attend, with a recommendation to maintain social distance and wear masks. Members of the public were also able to attend the virtual meeting telephonically.
Rock Cave fourth grader Roree Louk was recognized at the meeting for her artwork, which has been chosen to be displayed at the Board of Education Central Office. Louk was not at the meeting, so Principal Amanda Craig accepted her framed artwork on her behalf.
After awarding over 70 individuals with Upshur STARS Awards, the board recognized three volunteers, Cathy Grill, Jennifer Ervin and Brenda Hyre, who made sure the bus drivers received proper training for cleaning and sanitization of the buses. They also worked with Technology Support Specialist and Communication Specialist Kayla Yokum to produce a video that will provide more information to the bus drivers, families and community members.
Wellness and Child Nutrition Director Eddie Vincent recognized the Upshur Schools summer Paint Crew and Maintenance Workers. He listed off the names of Paint Crew and substitutes: Lee Pappas, Jennifer Ervin, Randy Starkey, Cathy Grill, Kim Mitchell, Jim Bailey, Darrell Gould, Amanda Wingfield, Chuck Brown, Craig Smith, Norman Workman, Steve McIe, Bobby Furr, Christy Bush, Linda Smith, Bill Groggs, Doug Bennett and Randy Hardman. Director of Facilities Tim Derico reported that the paint crew has used 338 gallons of paint this year. Vincent also recognized Maintenance Workers Jeff Dean, Mike Derico, Matt Friend, Jim Ours, Beenie Nazelrod and Andrew Moore. Derico mentioned the work they have completed throughout the summer, including lighting projects, installations of washers and dryers, new ceilings and bathroom renovations.
Student Services/Transportation Director Jodi Akers presented a video demonstrating loading and unloading the buses this year, then showed the touchless hand sanitizers and mask stations at the entrances. She explained that they discussed cleaning and sanitization protocols, loading and unloading procedures and seat replacements. Akers mentioned that experts recommend it is best to load and unload from the front rather than from the back. She explained that elementary students will ride in the front, middle school in the center, and high school students will be in the back. Family members may sit together as well, at the family’s request. She also noted that the children’s temperatures will not be checked to load onto the bus, to ensure all children at the bus stops are picked up.
Akers gave a huge thank you at the transportation department, which was followed with a round of applause. “They have been amazing,” Akers said. “Countless hours have been devoted to these conversations in trying to determine what will be the best for our children and our community.”
For technology updates, Yokum reported on TV installations, working on a new website for a mass communication feature for the county, Incident IQ problems for teachers and personnel. TSS Quinten Oldaker explained that Apple TVs cannot be more than 48 inches off the floor to ensure all students can interact with the them. Yokum and Oldaker also explained they have recycled older technology with out-of-date equipment and will receive a reimbursement. The company the county uses collects and recycles 100 percent of the products to ensure nothing goes to a landfill, by either reusing the material or melting down parts to reuse. Yokum thanked Rick Reynolds and Danielle Rexroad who helped with recycling. Yokum also reported that the Governor’s Kids Connect Initiative’s WiFi extends to the property lines of all 11 school locations in the county, including West Virginia Wesleyan College and Fred W Eberle Technical Center, as well as the three libraries.
Instead of a Resolution, the board read and reviewed a letter to Governor Jim Justice, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, and Congressman Alex Mooney explaining the concerns they have and requesting education funding expansion. They addressed that budget constraints fall short in resolving situations, such as poverty, technology use without Internet access and personal protective equipment for staff.
In other business, the board approved their August 11 regular meeting minutes and Treasurer Jeff Perkins’ financial report.
The board, with the exclusion of Dr. Tammy Samples, reviewed and approved both the West Virginia Wesleyan/Upshur County Schools Memorandum of Understandings.
Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus reviewed the correspondence, which included a letter in support for the City of Buckhannon’s Elizabeth J. “Binky” Poundstone Riverwalk Trail Extension Project and West Virginia State Board President Miller Hall’s letter appointing Dr. Stankus to a three-year term on the West Virginia Commission for Professional Teaching Standards.
The board went into an executive session regarding personnel. After returning to regular session, the board approved the following resignations: Michael Paul Gitzen as B-UHS Health and Physical Education; Dawn Hymes as B-UMS General Music/Choir Director Teacher; Ronda Osburn as Substitute Secretary; Audriana Whitehair as Hodgesville Elementary Third Grade Teacher; Christy Bush as Afternoon Extra-Curricular Bus Driver #81; Danielle Rexroad as B-UHS Wellness Pack Coordinator; Carolyn Rittenhouse as B-UMS Math Teacher, released pending a licensed credentialed replacement, if found.
The board approved the following hires: Sherry Hardy as B-UMS English Language Arts 6-8; Douglas Bennett as Tennerton Elementary Custodian III; Adam Loudin as B-UMS Middle School Music/General Music and Band; Anthony Dahman as Mechanic for Upshur County Schools; Patty Wager as B-UHS Assistant Cross-Country Coach; Taylor Stacy as B-UHS Head Cross-Country Coach; Nikita Ware as Union Elementary Itinerant Special Education Aide/Multi-categorical/Autism; Haley Roberts as Union Elementary Second Grade Teacher; and Rachel, Kelley and Bryant Akagi, Timothy Bean, Bill Smith, Thelma Norman and Wonda “Janie” Miller as Substitute Custodians for Upshur County Schools.
The board also approved Rebecca Walton’s transfer from B-UHS PALS to Tennerton Elementary Itinerant Special Education Multi-categorical with Autism.
The Upshur County Board of Education meets every other Tuesday. The next regular meeting of the academic year will be held September 15 at 6 p.m., also currently scheduled to be held in the Rock Cave Elementary School cafeteria.