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School Board Makes Partial
Decision On Facilities Usage

by Gary Knight

Updated on Wednesday*:

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Approximately 50 people were present at Monday’s Calhoun County school board meeting in the CM/HS auditorium.

The board addressed a lengthy and varied agenda involving facilities usage, budgetary concerns, athletic concerns, and building disposal.

Extracurricular Activities

High school varsity basketball coach Danny Bunch expressed his concerns over the current gymnasium usage policy that prohibits practice for all sports teams after 5 p.m.: “That’s five to six hours less (per week) than anybody we compete against. We are at a huge disadvantage. We’re not in shape, which makes us susceptible to injuries. I hope nobody gets hurt.”

“It seems right now as though these kids are getting the shaft. This county has put these kids in this situation. It burns me up. It’s not fair,” said Bunch.

He stated that a user’s rate should have been established by now: “We should have a rate by now of how much it will cost to keep my kids in the gym. You guys should have figured that out by now. I don’t care if it’s $50 or $60; I should have an option.”

He told the board that two people have already offered to pay up to $150 for the team to go to Glenville State to practice.

The board also heard from Paul Parsons, middle school assistant coach, who said that middle school students are bused at 3:25 to both elementary schools, where they must share a gymnasium that is too small to adequately accommodate more than one team: “We share with 20 to 30 other students. We actually warm up in the hallways while avoiding little kids.”

He added that, with preparation time before and after, athletes are allotted 45 minutes true practice time: “It’s not about quantity, but quality of practice, but you can only get so much in in 45 minutes.”

Parsons presented a utility cost breakdown that showed electrical cost for the entire school as $75.25 per hour: “It would cost us $9.11 per day for three hours use of the gym. If you let us back into the middle school gym and allow us to pay, that total would be $182.20 per month, based upon 20 days.”

“What I want to point out is what has been tabled is total fees, custodian services included, three hours minimum comes to $390 to rent both gyms and pay the utilities and custodians,” said Parsons. “If it’s tabled, we can go back and change that rate. The new fees given us are $20 per hour each gym and $10 per hour for the wrestling room, but the rates that we get are higher than we can afford.”

Parsons suggested a variety of means by which costs could be reduced. Changing lights in the gyms would save on energy costs all day, not just during practice. He also said that parents driving athletes to games could save approximately $6,300.

“If people of this community know what it is you’re asking for and what it’s going for, they’re willing to give money up for it. When times are difficult, Calhoun folks always step up and take care of it,” said Parsons.

Woodward recommended that the facilities use policy be accepted as written, with the fee structure to go into committee. In the meantime, extra-curricular groups will be permitted to use the facilities and schedule the times they need. The fees will be retroactive.

Woodward said that usage times for facilities must be made with the building administrator or the athletic director for as much reasonable time as needed to meet for practice. Once the board reaches a final consensus on what the fee structure will be, then he will ask, on a trust basis, that the fee be paid retroactively.

Organizations not sponsored by the school, such as 4-H, etc., may apply and receive waivers to obtain access to the facilities. Waivers will not be required from any school-sponsored group, such as teams, band, choir, FFA, etc.

Teams that now must vacate the athletic facilities by 5 p.m. will now be able to stay later for a fee.

Sugar Cane Project

High school FFA adviser and Vo-Ag teacher Donald Poage, high school student Jenny Woodward, Little Kanawha District conservation supervisor Roger Collins, and West Fork Community Action president Harold Carpenter appeared as a delegation to request land adjacent to the board office and bus garage, directly behind the bus parking area, for a sugar cane project and outdoor classroom.

A blueprint design, created by Poage’s students and illustrating where and how the land will be utilized to produce sugar cane, was presented.

The cane will be used to support the Molasses Festival which, according to Collins, has not had sorghum, necessary for molasses production, for the past few years.

Poage reported that there are some drainage problems on the property and his group has worked with Collins on that matter. He also said that they have had some contact with extension agent Daisy Bailey, and had soil tests, which his class will evaluate on Thursday, run through the WVU lab.

The group intends to make the project a success by working with people inside the school, local farmers, soil conservation district, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and others. Students have done research on sugar cane and its benefits.

“We, as a group, are trying to come up with some community actions that are positive in nature. This will be a unique learning experience for our kids,” said Poage. “With our curriculum, we can have three or four classes involved in this project.

Collins, after presenting Carpenter with a check for $1,000 on behalf of the Resource Conservation and Development board, told board members that he and his group will continue to lend various aid and support to the project.

Carpenter said there had been little to no cane grown in the area for the past few years: “I think this is a win/win situation for the kids at the school and for the community.”

Proceeds from the cane will be divided “between Arnoldsburg (Community) Park and the kids.”

Board approval was granted.

Old Arnoldsburg School

Supervisor of support services Marlan Zwoll shared estimates he had received for demolition of the older sections of the old Arnoldsburg school building: “We’re looking at six figures, roughly around $225,000 to demolish part of that building.”

He added that parts of the estimate are “negotiable,” as there are sections of the demolition that can be done “in-house,” and the estimate is based upon an hourly rate.

Zwoll said that one entity interested in moving into the building had some information on grants to help with demolition costs.

Presently, the county Extension office, the county health department and “Save the Children” organization, who would use the facility primarily for storage, are exploring moving into the building.

Woodward said, “The concern is that none of these three agencies in and unto themselves has the funding to fix and sustain the building for maximum use; however, what we hope is to facilitate or have someone in the community facilitate a meeting between those three agencies, so that, between the three of them, they can make that property valuable and useful to the community and, at the same time, lift the burden of expenses it’s creating on our budget right now.”

Zwoll said that Extension agent Jamie Mullins is in pursuit of funding sources for the project.

Budget Solutions

Woodward presented a PowerPoint presentation of his proposed three-year plan for reducing the deficit (see accompanying story). He said the primary focus when developing the plan was:

--Increasing student achievement.

--Making reasonable progress to reduce the debt within three years.

--Maintaining student/teacher ratios.

--Protecting extra-curricular programs (band, choir, athletics, CTE).

--Looking internally and externally at utilizing all available resources effectively (custodial supplies, utilities, transportation expenses, professional development, substitute costs, Fund 11 unrestricted county funds).

Laptops For All

Woodward advised the board that, with enhanced education applications on the Internet, state superintendent of schools Michael Martirano intends to transform the state into textbook free schools.

The plan calls for every student to have a laptop to take home. Woodward said that Martirano plans to divert all accessible monies to the plan. He said that rural superintendents have tried to make him understand that there is a huge difference between Internet access in the part of West Virginia he is familiar with, Jefferson and Berkeley counties, and some of the more rural counties.

 StudentsPerformance

Woodward said, “Arnoldsburg Elementary met both student performance and growth expectations and earned a ‘Success School’ designation, the highest designation a school can receive.”

He also reported that both of the counties others schools Pleasant Hill and CM/HS were designated “transitional schools,” the second highest designation.

Woodward reported that Calhoun schools ranked 11th in the state according to www.schooldigger.com, an instrument sponsored by both the national and state departments of education that is not so much an indicator of actual attained student proficiency or overall school academic ranking, as it is the degree of growth that has occurred within schools from year to year.

Other News

--Board members entered into an executive session at 6:24 to review a student expulsion and returned to regular session at 6:35, with no action taken.

--The board entered into another executive session at 8:28 to discuss employee discipline and returned to regular session at 8:35, with termination of a school employee.

--Approved the following new business:

Volunteers, Mercy Roberts, Rebecca Frederick, Heather Little, Rebecca Wilson, CM/HS; Christina Perkins, AES; Brandon Tingler, PHS.

Student transfer, parents Arnold and Lisa Banfield, 9th grader, Calhoun to Wirt.

Home school, parent Shelly Stewart, 2nd and 6th graders; parent Donna Richards, 9th and 10th graders.

Contract, audiology services, George Evans.

--Personnel items approved included the following:

Employment, professional, Brian Massie, long-term substitute art/social studies teacher, CM/HS.

Substitute teachers, Shirley Chenoweth, Patty Mangus, Anthony Richards.

Service, Charles O’Neal, substitute bus operator; Kenneth McCumbers, substitute custodian.

Resignation, extra-curricular, Krystina Mistyhn, softball coach; service, John Simers, substitute custodian.

The next regular meeting of the board will be on Monday, Jan. 12, 5:30 p.m., at Pleasant Hill School, with the Local School Improvement Council.

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