Board Rejects Call For PCHS Closure
Amid a crowd of some 100 persons April 19, the Wetzel County Board of Education voted to return its 10-year Comprehensive Educational Facilities Plan for revision, sparing Paden City High School from closing in 2012, as called for in the plan.
The unanimous vote on Member Willie Baker’s motion drew cheers and a standing ovation from PCHS supporters who spilled into the hallway outside the meeting room at the board’s office building.
They then travelled back to Paden City, gathered at the Convenient Food Mart, then paraded through town, celebrating the long-fought victory.
What will apparently happen now to the two-volume document, mandated by the state, is a review and reconsideration of closing the facility before it is sent to the West Virginia Board of Education and School Building Authority for approval. No date has been set for final approval of the CEFP, but it must be sent to Charleston in August.
Board President Mike Blair said his affirmative vote “was for students. We are here for kids and we can’t lose sight of that.” Other board members agreed.
Member Linda Ritz told those present that “community support was critical. I hope you continue in the future.”
However, the joy in the room was tempered by a blunt reminder from County Superintendent of Schools Bill Jones, who noted that Wetzel County’s student population is expected to continue shrinking from the present 2,850 pupils.
“We cannot continue to fund four high schools in the county,” Jones said, unless the county grows in population. “We must find reasons to keep our people here and draw new ones in.”
Meanwhile, Assistant Superintendent Jay Yeager introduced the crowd to Jason P. “Jay” Salva, who will replace the retiring Warren L. Grace Jr. as principal of PCHS, effective July 1.
Since 2003, Salva has been an eighth grade reading and language arts teacher at Bridge Street Middle School in Elm Grove, W.Va. Prior to that, he taught the same subject to 11th and 12th graders at Cameron High School.
He also has been a behavior specialist with the New Horizon Rehabilitation Youth Center in the Bethesda, Ohio, School District and has taught in the Richland, Ohio, School District, where he also coached track and girls basketball.
Salva holds a baccalaureate degree from West Liberty University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from West Virginia University. A graduate of Martins Ferry High Schools, he also has studied at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
He and his wife live in Bridgeport, Ohio, from which he plans to commute until moving to Wetzel County in the next school year. The Salvas have a six-year-old son, Isaac.
Treasurer Jeff Lancaster reported that the school system has received new funding, including an SBA grant of $836,995 to renovate the HVAC system at Long Drain School. In addition, the SBA sent along another $300,000 to repair/replace the roof at Hundred High School.
The school system also received $16,287.84 of federal “stimulus” money to support technology in all Wetzel County schools, as well as a state grant of almost $51,491.45 to fund the summer and after school programs in the county.
Lancaster also reported an $8,100 grant from the state for the teacher and principal mentor programs and a $2,000 state grant for 21st Century Learning Schools That Work program.
Another $12,000 in new funding included $5,000 from Chesapeake Energy for the Energy Academy at HHS.
The board met at 8 a.m. April 20 to approve official regular and excess levy rates, established by property class. Excess levy rates are set to the maximum and are unchanged from last year. Regular levy rates, also unchanged from a year ago, are established by the legislature.
In other action at the April 19 meeting, the board was updated on the Prevention Resource Officer Program at Valley High School, at present the only fully-funded, full-time such program in the county.
Teachers Kristy Earley and Janet Moore explained how the officer, Wetzel County Sheriff’s Deputy Don Bordenkircher, has fully assimilated himself into the school’s life in achieving the program’s goals of prevention, mentoring, and safety.
Bordenkircher’s activities are not limited to the classroom, where he teaches on such things as Internet safety, drug awareness, bullying, alcohol awareness, or cell phone safety.
He also is a role model, the teachers said, especially to the some 30 percent of VHS students who come from untraditional families. The officer has helped students sharpen their driving skills, assisted in theater productions, and even in home economics classes.
Discipline problems also are on the decline at VHS. In the two years prior to the PRO’s appearance at the school, there were about 425 discipline referrals in the first quarter. That has dropped by about 100. That total figure includes weapons violations, which had numbered seven and are now zero.
Cost of the program is about $46,000 per year, including salary and full benefits. The school has applied for another state grant to fund the program next year.
Before adjourning, the board was updated on a trip to Italy by members of the travel club at Hundred High School during spring break this year. The board also acted on several personnel matters and accepted a low bid of $272,198 from Kalkreuth Roofing of Wheeling for roof replacement at HHS.
The board also approved K-12 textbooks for the coming school year. Baker and board vice president Bob Patterson said they hoped the textbooks taught traditional American values in their treatment of history.