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Schools Work To Enhance Connectivity

By Staff | Oct 7, 2009

Already well immersed in the information age, Wetzel County Schools are getting even better connected to the world.

County Technology Coordinator Robert Shaver reported to the Board of Education Monday evening that work is continuing on a wide area computer network that will connect school to school, the county office, and the state department of education. Shaver said antennas will be installed at all schools to complete the circuit provided by StratusWave.

He also said statewide priorities include an increase in the educational system’s bandwidth, or rate at which information is transferred, and the computer-to-student ratio. In addition, wireless Internet connections are being installed at the county office for such events as staff meetings and training.

Shaver said a “School Messenger” communication system will be installed throughout the county to provide notification via phone, texting, and e-mail to unlimited groups of students and other personnel on a need-to-know basis. The message protocol is similar to systems elsewhere that have been installed to allow emergency notifications and safety information.

Work continues on the implementation of the FastForward program at all county schools that uses technology in customizing and streamlining the teaching-learning process. The board approved purchase of the program in August at a cost of $500,000, which will be paid by federal “stimulus” money.

Shaver also reported that schools are now connected with “GradeQuick”, the official electronic gradebook for Wetzel County Schools, that provides parental access to student grade.

Work also has been completed on “Edline”, a countywide system that provides school information and can be used by students to access class assignments, notably those receiving alternative education.

Treasurer Jeff Lancaster reported $178,139 in new funding for the current school year, which includes an annual $1,000 contribution from PPG Industries. In addition, Wetzel County received a $25,000 state appropriation for alternative education and some $14,000 from the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program.

State funding of $51,794 also was received for phase three of the School Access Safety Grant Program that is funding the conversion of Wetzel County schools to keyless entry.

The remaining monies will be distributed among various vocational programs.

Before adjourning, the board approved a number of personnel matters, including the resignation of Clyde Randall Houk as principal of Valley High School. That appointment had been approved last month.

Until a new principal is employed, Head Football Coach Tom West and former VHS Principal Tammy Wells are holding down principal duties.

The board also voted to extend group dental and vision insurance to employee dependents up to age 25. Previously, those dependents were covered only under the group’s medical insurance. The extended coverage was authorized last year by the Public Employee Insurance Association.

The board passed on first reading an updated job description of a “Clerk-of-the-Works” position that supervises, and is required by, all School Building Authority projects.

Such a project is underway on the HVAC system at New Martinsville School. Assistant Superintendent Jay Yeager said that job will be posted when the updated job description has received final approval, expect at the board’s next regular meeting Oct. 19 at Short Line School.

The board also approved on first reading a change in the alternative education attendance policy to make it consistent with the attendance policy for all students. At present, the alternative education program has a separate attendance policy.