At the Wetzel County Board of Education meeting held Feb. 6, the board addressed various issues, particularly one surrounding the need for isolated parking at New Martinsville School to better accommodate the neighboring fire station and keep students and parents safe.
It's been an ongoing issue, Board President Mike Blair said, but the time has come to find a solution. He noted parents have actually been sitting parked in the fire station's lot when a fire call comes up, blocking emergency vehicles from tending to emergencies.
Blair suggested creating just one exit for the school and raising a fence to isolate the school's parking lot from the fire station's area. NMS Principal Fay Pritchard was also in attendance during the meeting to voice her opinion, stating that she had major concerns over the congestion and potential hazards. "It's gonna take all of us working together to discuss what some options might be," Pritchard resolved. "I can't move cars."
New Martinsville School
Blair noted that parking at pick-up time is a problem at all of the county's elementary schools, however it is worse at NMS given its location along state Route 2 and beside the fire house. Board member Linda Ritz added that all surrounding businesses have signs posted that denote no school parking is allowed.
"We need to be a good neighbor and do what's right with our emergency systems," said Blair. With that, he asked the superintendent to look into the matter, to which Superintendent Diane Watt stated she would address the matter later this week.
In another matter, Valley High School Principal Benjamin McPherson and Guidance Counselor Dr. John Tomaszewski addressed the board asking for their continued support for the Prevention Resource Officer program at VHS. McPherson noted they have received support again this year from the Wetzel County Commission and are also seeking funds through the Juvenile Justice grant for which they have applied, in addition to funds from the school's S3 funds. The board shared their approval of the PRO program and stated they would again continue such support as they have in the past.
Treasurer Jeff Lancaster then presented transfers and supplements in the budget to the board, along with a proposed budget calendar. With regard to the calendar, Lancaster explained several special meetings are established to hold budget work sessions. He then went on to detail one supplement, that being for the educational jobs fund which carries nine positions and two transfers: $237,700 for Title I routine transfers and $814,100 in salary transfers. Additionally, he stated their Annual Financial Audit was set to begin Feb. 7. The board approved all matters outlined in the treasurer's report.
The board also untabled Wetzel County Policy GCBD: Paid Leave, a policy which was tabled following several teachers' voiced concerns made at the Dec. 19 meeting. The board approved the first reading of the revised policy, in addition to the second reading of Wetzel County Policies: EFD regarding Wetzel County Schools Child Nutrition Program Centralized Billing and Collection, and Policy JFCE regarding Racial, Sexual, Religious/Ethnic Harassment/Violence/Bullying.
Under other items presented at the meeting, Superintendent Watt shared that a grant was recently completed which is intended to provide a research-based program which would allow students on probation to participate and continue their education while addressing drug, alcohol, and behavioral issues. Watt added that last year, 33 percent of the students on probation ended up being repeat offenders. That number was 50 percent the year before. Additionally, should they receive the grant, part of its funds would go toward supplying a half-time counselor specifically for the program.
Watt also shared news from the recent Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse meeting she attended. She noted the group is very supportive of the grant just described, and shared with the board that the coalition is working with a Drug Free Club at Magnolia High School to support students staying away from drugs. Also, Watt told those present that a Government Task Force meeting is scheduled for Feb. 27 at MHS and they hope community members will attend and become involved in the task force. Lastly, Watt said the coalition had come across a video created by anti-smoking advocate Patrick Reynolds, a grandchild of tobacco company founder R.J. Reynolds. The coalition will be working to raise funds to purchase copies of the video for every school in the county.
Lastly, the board established upcoming regular meeting dates as Feb. 20 and March 5, each to be held at 7 p.m. at the county office.