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Board Plans To Sell Former School,
Minimum Will Not Be Announced
by Gary Knight

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 The Calhoun County board of education convened its meeting at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at the board office on Mt. Zion.

Present were members Cynthia Dale, Jackie Collins-Frail, Larry Harris and Jenna Jett. Board president Steve Whited was absent.

With building maintenance director Marlan Zwoll attending a conference, superintendent Timothy Woodward updated the status of the old Arnoldsburg School building. He said that a title search had been completed and it showed that the school board purchased the building at fair market value several years ago. At this point, no search for heirs is necessary or required, and the board can move forward.

The board will, at its next meeting, set the minimum bid, which will not be made public, thereby allowing bids too low to be rejected. Also, a decision will be made regarding whether the facility and grounds are to be sold in sections or as a whole.

Woodward said there have been several inquiries daily with people expressing their desires to own particular sections of the property, but he believes it will be more valuable if left intact. He hopes to be ready to open bidding by August.

Woodward added, “I think the board has pretty much decided at this point that we want to sell it ‘as is’ and make it as valuable as we can.”

He said there is basic lighting in the building to allow potential buyers to see, and a draft has been kept open to deter mold. Otherwise, there are no utilities present, as a means to keep costs at a minimum: “Right now, there are a couple of nice freezers and a nice gas stove, and I hope they will entice some bidders.”

Jenna Jett delivered a report on a Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center meeting. Several items were addressed:

--The 2013 audit report was presented for approval.

--Director Bryan Sterns presented a contract for approval for Dan Minney, Calhoun County Schools director of finance, to prepare the annual financial statement for fiscal year 2015.

--Permission to repost English and math positions for five days.

--No action was taken on the embedded credit policy, pending approval at the July meeting.

--Darlene Smithson will travel from Gilmer County one day each week to remediate the special education students at the career center.

--Sterns attended a special education workshop in Clarksburg, with a goal of improved support for special education students who attend the career center.

--Sterns is investigating means to replace the automobile lift at the career center.

--Sterns expressed appreciation to Phyllis Starkey for her for serving as a council member and for her support and dedication to the staff and students at the career center.

--Sterns expressed his appreciation on behalf of the students and staff to Ronald Blankenship for his long-time service, support and dedication to the center, and wished him a happy retirement.

Woodward said that the automotive lifts that had failed a safety inspection due to inappropriate stickers are now classified as non-certifiable, meaning that use is prohibited “from this time forward.”

He said there would be some discussion on Tuesday about obtaining new lifts. He added that Sterns is in the process of finding and securing grants for lift replacement.

Two individuals who had applied for the imbedded English credit program at the career center have withdrawn their applications, leaving that position open. The position will be reposted. The imbedded credit policy is out for review.

Harris reported that there will be no RESA V meeting in July, with the next regular meeting set for Aug. 27 in Parkersburg.

In his superintendent’s report, Woodward addressed the number of students transferring from Calhoun to neighboring schools for the upcoming academic year: “You take those students and calculate that by $4,838 or around $5,000 per student, it’s a concern.”

Woodward noted that around 99 percent of the parents who call in say the move is due to proximity.

Woodward said he believed the state needs to take a look at home schooling: “I think we make it too easy to home school sometimes. I think there needs to be a lot of accountability that those students are indeed learning the next generation common core standards, and that’s something I will bring up with my (superintendent’s) association. It is a concern that I have about the number of students we lose each year, not just here. In Pendleton County, my request sheet was twice this long.”

A team is in place and ready to interview candidates on Friday for the principal’s position at Pleasant Hill School.

“I will bring you a recommendation, if things go as planned, at the next board meeting,” said Woodward.

He said that the pool of candidates, from both inside and outside the system, look very promising, and he is optimistic.

Dale, who was filling in for the absent Whited, called for an executive session to discuss personnel. The board entered into executive session at 5:43 and reconvened in regular session at 6:01, with no action taken.

A new Use of Schools Policy, which is under review, reads in part:

“The primary use of school buildings and grounds should be to accommodate approved school programs for students. However, the board of education encourages the use of school facilities for community activities and making school facilities available for non-profit use.”

Woodward said, “Like other counties I’ve worked in, I think we’re going to have to make some charges for particular facilities, and especially charges for the custodians. Groups who use the facility are going to have to pay the custodians and custodial fee, because we do not have the manpower, especially now. This would be an opportunity also for our custodians who have lost some money (reference to state-mandated cut back for all employees with 200+ contracts) to make a little bit of money.”

He said that he is proposing a rate chart, and speculated that there may be some complaints about the custodial and usage fees: “We have to do our parts to pitch in and help pay for the lights and utilities. We’ve all taken a hit here, so we need everybody to pitch in and help us.”

In a closing statement, Woodward expressed his appreciation to middle/high school principal Kelli Whytsell, who filled in for him during his absence: “It doesn’t go unnoticed by the superintendent and I do appreciate what you do and I just want the board to know that.”

A special meeting will be held on Thursday, July 31, at 6:30 p.m. The next regular meeting will be on Monday, Aug. 11, at 5:30 p.m. Both will be held at the Mt. Zion board office.

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