Our February 4th cold winter day got a little longer, but with good reason. Our Upshur County Schools Board of Education welcomed Howard O’Cull, Ed.D., executive director of the West Virginia School Board Association, and Jason S. Long, J.D., of Dinsmore Law Firm, to Buckhannon-Upshur High School for an after-hours BOE workshop. Recognizing the complexities of COVID-19, we have become lifelong learners, keeping ourselves abreast of our duties to do all we can for the sake of our students.
We follow our own Mission statement, which we recite at the beginning of every meeting:
“The Mission of Upshur County Schools is to provide academic preparation; social responsibility; employability and a desire for LIFELONG LEARNING.”
Being old fashioned, I like our duties described in terms of “chores.” Dr. O’Cull is old school, too. My boyhood chores included daily taking out the ashes and bringing in the coal for my grandparents. Our elected chores include operating schools, providing public education services, employing professional educators and school service personnel, operating the largest bus transportation system in the county, serving up the largest number of meals as a giant cafeteria, and more.
We have just completed and had approved our Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan (CEFP) for the next 10 years. Now that is a big chore for sure. We take seriously our building maintenance of nine schools:
Rock Cave Elementary
French Creek Elementary
Washington District Elementary
B-U Middle School
B-U High School
“If the Lord is willing and the creek don’t rise” is how I recall such due diligence being characterized by my elders as a young Upshurite. Now with our CEFP in hand, we prepare to follow our supporting citizens’ directives, as they favor the building of a new high school.
Can it be 44 years since we last came together passing a building bond to construct our Pride of Upshur County in 1977? Over the ensuing decades the quality of classroom features has drastically changed architecturally. Yes, we respect our “US News” rating of #9,435 out of #17,792 nationally ranked high schools, but we know in our hearts that we can do better.
Dr. Howard O’Cull summarizes our chores:
“...while a valued consideration, are largely effectuated by recommendations of the county superintendent. This is certainly the case with matters relating to school personnel—literally all matters.”
This segues nicely into another BOE duty we undertake with gravitas. We have the solemn duty to provide oversight for our Upshur County Schools Superintendent, Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus. This is a contract year, so we follow the West Virginia Department of Education Policy #5309. Stay tuned, for we have accomplished much together. Yet, we have more to do.
My big concern back in January 2019 was the School Levy Renewal. Credit goes to each voting citizen who valued education of our children as our most important duty. Not only did we pass, but by the largest (2 to 1) margin in the history of our county. Local partners actively supported the teachers and service personnel. Dr. Stankus deserves much credit for her extra-effort work, meeting with any and all groups in Upshur County. As she rightfully notes, the combination of “action, accountability and achievement” helped us all do everything in our power for the sake of the children. More lessons learned.