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Wetzel County BOE Praises EPIC Award Winners

February 6, 2019

The Wetzel County Board of Education held a regular meeting on Jan. 28 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting began with two students from Hundred High School - Madison Fetty and Hunter Tustin- presenting information on their project for the Economic Projects Impacting Communities (EPIC) competition. These students' project - which they presented in Charleston on Dec. 12, 2018 - was selected to receive a $50,000 grant through the WV Department of Education.

Board Vice President Bill Jones told all present that he was able to attend the presentation in Charleston where Hundred High School won the grant, and he reported that it was a wonderful experience. It was his opinion that Fetty and Tustin represented the town of Hundred well, and Jones said he was very proud of them.

Fetty and Tustin then thanked everyone for their support, saying they couldn't have done it alone and that they greatly appreciate all the assistance.

Article Photos

Photos by Maddisen Eidel
Above, Hundred High School students Madison Fetty and Hunter Tustin, Principal Beth Sigley, educator Rex Rush, and Beverly VanScyoc from BackWoods Enterprises are awarded certificates for their collaborative work on the “EPIC” project for the Town of Hundred.

While presenting the information on their project, the students said their focus was on town beautification and economic development. Fetty told the board that the town was devastated by flood waters in July 2017 and provided pictures showcasing the damage. Many homes and properties were ruined, and personal belongings had to be thrown out as well.

Fetty said that it is their goal to leave their town better than it is now, and conveyed that is what they wish to accomplish with the grant money. In order to obtain this goal, Fetty and Tustin plan to design and create light post banners and concrete planters with flowers. They also plan to build an amphitheater with solar-powered lights, bench seating, and a walkway, as well as a miniature replica of town founders Henry and Hannah Crutch's cottage as a historic attraction for the town.

The board then presented Fetty and Tustin with certificates for their work, and also honored their teacher Rex Rush, Principal Beth Sigley, and Beverly VanScyoc from BackWood Enterprises LLC with whom they collaborated with on this project.

Following this presentation, the board invited the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce Chamber President Don Riggenbach to talk about the chamber's involvement in a local welding program.

Riggenbach explained the chamber's goal is economical development and job creation. One job that is currently prospering is welding, and so when the Wetzel County Technical Education Center (WCTEC) began to come to fruition, the chamber supported the endeavor with $50,000.

Riggenbach reported that these classes are a success, and he said high school students who begin classes as juniors now have the ability to become certified and begin work immediately following graduation.

It was also said that the WCTEC is teaching what the industry is looking for, and companies such as MarkWest have approached the center for certified welders.

WCTEC currently has 20 welding booths and is looking to finish a lab in two to three weeks. These classes are available to adults through West Virginia Northern Community College and to high school students from Magnolia and Hundred High Schools.

The success of this program has inspired further implementation of new programs - such as an electrician program and a nursing program. Although the nursing program is not yet in the works, the electrician program is currently being implemented into the WCTEC. The Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce decided in one of their previous board meetings to pledge up to $10,000 to help fund this upcoming program.

Board members and Wetzel County Schools administrators at the Jan. 28 meeting thanked Riggenbach and told him they appreciated the chamber's help in getting these programs operational. Riggenbach then presented a check to the board-appointed director of WCTEC, Amanda McPherson.

In other business, Elliott Kendle, of the Wetzel County Education Association, presented the board with papers regarding the Omnibus Education Bill otherwise known as a "comprehensive education reform package." However, Kendle claimed this name does not fit as it is "punitive" for educators. It is believed this bill will be harmful for students and public schools. Although the committee is still making changes to the bill, Kendle presented what is currently being discussed.

Kendle informed the board of a stipend mentioned in the bill for math teachers. It is a one-time $2,000 stipend for those taking courses to earn a specialization in math, with the stipulation that they teach math 60 percent of the time. He said this stipend does not apply to current math educators, and they will not be eligible to receive anything. Kendle also said the passing of this bill will take money away from public schools.

Another concern presented was the increase in class sizes with grades one through six going from an average of 25 students to 28 to 31 students. Kendle told the board having 25 students can be tough to handle, and an increase such as this would not be beneficial to educators. In addition to this, Kendle cited that research has proven that reducing class sizes improves student performance, and adding more children to a classroom limits how much one-on-one time a teacher can devote to children.

The bill includes a five percent salary increase for education employees; however, educators are united on their opposition of the Omnibus Education Bill.

"It's supposed to be about the kids, not pay." Kendle told the board.

Board President Warren Grace told those present that he is aware of what's happening as he has been following the state senate bill closely. Grace reported he is not "too excited" about the bill. Board member Jay Yeager also said he is following the progression of the bill and believes very little included is good. Yeager said he does not support the bill and is talking to senators regarding the situation.

After discussion was held on this subject, the board moved on to Superintendent Ed Toman's recommendations. One item covered was the approval of minutes. Approval was needed for the minutes of the regular meeting held on Jan. 14, and the special meeting held on Jan. 11. A motion was made by Jones to approve them; board member Amy Cooley seconded it, and the motion to approve the minutes from both sessions was passed.

The board then began discussion on personnel matters. One Paden City High School English teacher - Cindy Kocher - is accepting retirement from her position at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, and was in need of board approval on this matter.

Approval was also needed from the board regarding resignations of the following personnel: Nina Fleming from the position as a countywide substitute cook effective Jan. 18, Kelly Lloyd from the position of Assistant Boys' Track Coach at Valley High School effective Jan. 15, Katie Fletcher from the position of seventh and eighth grade Girls' Volleyball Coach at New Martinsville School effective Jan. 22, and David Riggle from the position of seventh/eighth grade Boys' Track Coach at Paden City High School effective Jan. 23.

Employment was also being sought for Jordan Keller as a countywide non-certified Substitute Teacher effective on Jan. 29.

Lisa Brock was looking for approval to remain in the current assignment as Supervisory Teacher Aide/Autism Mentor at Short Line school effective Jan. 29.

Under extracurricular activities involving personnel matters, four individuals were seeking approval for employment. Shannon Duckworth was seeking approval to be employed by Hundred High School as a SAT Coordinator effective Jan. 29, Jeffery Hiestand to be employed by New Martinsville School as the seventh/eighth grade Boys Track Coach effective at the beginning of the 2018-2019 WVSSAC Season, Kody Jenkins to be employed by Valley High School as Head Boys Track Coach effective at the beginning of the 2018-2019 WVSSAC Season, and David Riggle to be employed by Paden City High School as Head Boys Track Coach effective at the beginning of the 2018-2019 WVSSAC Season as well.

Other matters in need of board approval were leaves of absences.

These requests were all reviewed, and a motion was made by Yeager to approve all requests. The motion was seconded by Jones, and then was carried.

In other business, the board reviewed routine matters such as a request of release from Wetzel County Schools. Requests to transfer to Wetzel County Schools was also made.

A request for approval was also made by Valley High School Principal JC Kimble for Adam Weekley and JD Morris to take four students from the Pine Grove FFA chapter and one chaperone to compete at the National Land Judging Competition in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. This event is to take place on April 25 through May 4, and will be funded through the Pine Grove FFA chapter.

A safety improvement project at New Martinsville School was also reviewed. Savage Construction Co. stationed in Wheeling was responsible for the improvement project for the main entrance of the school, and the amount totaled to $386,791. Grace told all present that this had been needing to be done for a while. The project was also said to be well under budget.

Approval was also needed for three students at Magnolia High School to attend school for half a day for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year as two of these students are in the Career Prep course and will be placed in a paid internship.

All these matters were discussed by board members, and approval was granted with a motion made by Jones and seconded by Yeager.

The board treasurer was not present, therefore there was nothing to report.

Grace then reported that he had attended a MOVTI meeting where it was reported that the facility would be implementing new and helpful items, and is also looking to expand adult classes. Upon questioning, it was said that two students from Tyler County Schools and one from Wetzel County Schools are currently attending MOVTI. Grace then offered the board a tour of MOVTI.

An email sent out regarding snow days was also discussed. The board was informed that, as of that (Jan. 28) meeting, there are five snow days on the calendar that the students do not have to make up. The county has already had four snow days. It was explained that June 3-7 is devoted to professional learning, in which students will not be required to attend school. In an effort to maintain the date of the last day of school, days for this learning will be moved to accommodate excess snow days.

Grace also asked if graduation dates have been set, which he was informed they had. Information with the dates was then provided for him.

Superintendent Edward Toman told the board that he would continue to provide updates on matters regarding the weather. He acknowledged the upcoming forecast and said he would continue to monitor.

Following discussion on this subject, the board announced that the next regular meeting would be held on Feb. 11 at 6:30. A motion to adjourn was then made by Grace and seconded by Jones. The action was carried and the meeting was officially adjourned at 7:10.



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