BUCKHANNON — The Upshur County Board of Education approved a two-year contract extension for Superintendent Dr. Sara Lewis-Stankus at a special meeting on April 30. According to the BOE, passing the county’s five-year excess levy was critical to the contract renewal and Dr. Stankus was instrumental in that successful levy vote.
Dr. Stankus and all of the BOE staff have worked tirelessly this year to establish numerous progressive plans for Upshur County schools. Among those, the partnerships they have formed with entities like Community Care of West Virginia and Mountain CAP’s Child Advocacy Center will provide much needed mental health services for students and their families.
Another impressive accomplishment is their recent collaboration with Glenville State College, which promises to provide Upshur County students with a head-start over their peers. Dr. Stankus and the BOE formed the partnership to give Buckhannon-Upshur High School students an opportunity to earn dual credit toward an Associate degree from GSC, conferred upon graduation. The Home Grown Teachers initiative is the other component to the relationship with GSC, which is intended to offer a solution for the teacher shortage in West Virginia, particularly back in Upshur County.
Securing grant funding throughout the year, as well as SBA funds to build an addition at Hodgesville Elementary, are some of the other ways Dr. Stankus has impacted the local school system with the help of the BOE. Upshur will also see the addition of five new pre-k classrooms in the fall as a result of their hard work.
Dr. Stankus said she has major goals for the next two years, including the completion of the 10-year plan for Upshur County Schools’ growth and continual improvement of academic offerings. Making the schools safe and helping students to feel they are in a supportive learning environment is another priority for the Superintendent.
During her recent one-year evaluation, board members agreed that Dr. Stankus met or exceeded expectations in all categories. As a result, they voted to extend her contract for two years, which includes a salary of $105,000 for the 2019-20 year and a cost of living increase of approximately three percent for 2020-21, for a total of $108,000. The contract terms related to pension will remain the same.
Currently, Upshur County’s Superintendent salary ranks number 50 in the state, with only four counties paying less and one equivalent. Tucker County presently has the same salary as Upshur, while Summers, Gilmer, Calhoun and Roane are the only counties paying less. The state average Superintendent salary is $122,313 and every county surrounding Upshur has a higher compensation for the position.
Dr. Stankus was very humble following the contract renewal announcement and recognized the BOE’s efforts as a whole. She said, “I really appreciate everyone’s help and no great leader has ever done anything alone.” She went on to say, “I love this community and I love living and working here and I love working for the children. I know we have a board now that is focused on what’s best for kids and that’s so important in this work. If that’s the driving force behind all of your decisions, if you just stop and say, ‘What’s best for the children?’, then we’ll always be found making good decisions.”