School officials focus onstaff changes & funding
The Morgan County School Board swept through personnel and funding approvals during their Tuesday, March 20 meting.
In the absence of President Laura Smith, board member Margaret Zembower ran the meeting.
Members of Widmyer Elementary School's Local School Improvement Council made a Powerpoint presentation to the board, emphasizing the concept of "21st Century Skills" for their K-2 students.
Principal Joan Willard said the project involved creating a blog (web log) and a pod cast (internet broadcast) with State School Superintendent Steve Paine.
Superintendent David Temple followed the presentation by awarding two Extra Miler awards to Widmyer teachers Brenda Nichols and Betsy Smailes.
Recipients of the award are nominated by their peers for extraordinary efforts in their work.
Nichols was recognized for her role on the Faculty Senate and Smailes for inventing and displaying creative projects with her art students.
In other personnel issues, board member Margaret Gordon said she appreciated the county school teachers' vote to come to work on March 14 when some teachers in neighboring Berkeley and Jefferson Counties stayed away to show displeasure with state pay raise levels.
"We have a problem here in the Eastern Panhandle. Teachers are not paid what they're worth," said Gordon. "It was a tough vote. We understand the issue."
Board member David Ambrose added, "Teachers do a lot of wonderful things that are way below the radar."
The board accepted the resignations, effective at the end of the school year, of four staff members: McLaurin Dawson, counselor at Berkeley Springs High School; Melodie O'Hanlon and Kelly Cooney, teachers at Berkeley Springs High School and Mary Kathryn Allaman, teacher at Warm Springs Middle School.
The board also noted the retirement of two teachers at the end of the school year: Kathleen Miller at Warm Springs Intermediate School and William Jones at Berkeley Springs High School.
Robbie Hess was approved as an unpaid assistant track coach once he meets the county's employment requisites.
Funding for out-of-state travel was approved for Paw Paw's grades 7-9 for a June 1 trip to Pittsburgh's Carnegie Science Center.
Board members also approved travel money for Sarah Morris to attend the Washington, D.C. Recognition of the 2007 Teachers of the Year on April 23-26 and for Michael Rozalski to travel to the Council for Exceptional Children Conference in Louisville, Ky. in April.
The board unanimously backed a grant application by Berkeley Springs High School Guidance Counselor Linda McGraw to seek money for a law enforcement/resource officer position at the school.
McGraw said the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant could cover up to half of the officer's salary. "I think we have a definite need," she said of the position.
In response to questions from board members, McGraw said the officer would work under the supervision of the principal and would have to be a qualified law enforcement officer.
The officer could conduct after-school classes, educate students about alcohol and drug use and act as support for local police in the schools.
The board voted unanimously to renew their policy allowing retired certified teachers to work as substitutes for up to 140 days without affecting their retirement benefits.
The rule is in place because local school officials have deemed there to be a "shortage of and a critical need for qualified substitute teachers."
The written policy traces the shortage to Morgan County's proximity to higher-paying school systems in Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania.