Former committee member addresses board with concerns

NEW CUMBERLAND — A former member of the Hancock County Board of Education’s staff development council addressed her concerns last week to the board about reported problems regarding the committee.

Betsy Loughton, also a retired teacher, asked why there were not enough members of the council, and who should be making the decisions.

She said until now, even through seven different chairpersons, she never had an issue in the council.

“It just hurts me to know that it’s not being run right, and the laws are very clear,” Loughton said. “I do think that something’s not right here.”

She pointed out, according to state code, that the county superintendent and a designee of the superintendent’s choice, can only serve in advisory roles and cannot run the council.

Loughton also addressed that teachers have six hours for development training, not only two.

In addition, she expressed concern about where the money is going for the council, adding the council should have had $3,000 in its account. She said she never received a statement when questioning the amount.

BOE members stated they would look into the matter.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Fighiroae returned to address the board regarding the issue of the start time of school, and re-emphasized her concerns regarding what she believes are health affects of starting classes before 8:30 a.m.

At the last meeting (and at a recent Hancock County Board of Health meeting), Fighiroae shared information from studies by the American Pediatrics Association, the Center for Disease Control and the National Sleep Foundation, which pointed out that starting school early in the day could lead to long-term health problems — such as depression, anxiety and other problems — as the children get older.

Oak Glen Middle School, where Fighiroae’s son attends, begins at 7:20 a.m.

She said she believed the board was not taking the reported potential health risks into consideration.

“I think that we shouldn’t dismiss so easily all the doctors and other specialists who did all this research,” Fighiroae said, adding she wasn’t doing this just for her son, but rather for all of the students in the school district.

Fighiroae was joined by her husband, Simeon, but he elected not to speak before the board.

In other business:

– Four area students were recognized during the meeting’s “Take A Bow” portion, all four of whom were selected as the county winners in the West Virginia Young Writers Contest.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson read excerpts of the winning selections, which also will be submitted on a state level. Those were “Three Reasons Why I Love Christmas” by Allison Elementary third grader Brooke Stover, “The Day That Gravity Left” by Weirton Elementary third grader Gianna Bonar, “Space” by Oak Glen Middle School fifth grader Jonathan Snyder, and “A Hike in the Woods” by Oak Glen Middle school seventh grader Mariyah Craiger. Each student received a certificate commending their success, although Craiger was not present to accept her certificate.

– Six coaching positions were approved for the 2016-217 school year. Five of the positions were for Oak Glen High School and included Jason Kekseo as a boys’ track assistant, Ryan Willis and Mark McHaffie as baseball assistants, and Brandy Smith and Chris Clunk as softball assistants. For Weir High, Aaron Velegol was approved as the boys’ head tennis coach.

McHaffie, Smith and Clunk’s positions were on a non-paid basis. McHaffie, Clunk and Venegol each met state guidelines established for non-certified prisonment employed in coaching activities.

– In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignations of Colleen cervine, a countywide substitute aide, and Roger D. Stewart, the operations chief in the transportation department. cervine resignation, to which she cited personal reasons, will go into effect Feb. 28. The last day for Stewart, who will be retiring, will be June 30.

– Two transfers also were approved: Joseph Ballota and Melissa Dirling. Ballota, currently a custodian at New Manchester Elementary, will transfer to a custodian role at Weir Middle School, effective April 24. Dirling, currently a countywide substitute cook, will move to the central kitchen for seven hours a day for 200 days, effective April 3.

– A special meeting will take place at 5 p.m. March 20 at the board of education’s board room at the New Cumberland Municipal Building, serving as a public hearing on the 2017-18 school calendar.

— The next regular meeting is 5 p.m. March 27. Prior to the regular meeting, at 4:30 p.m., a special meeting will be held to discuss the auction of properties.