Superintendent Jones Announces Retirement
Wetzel County Superintendent of Schools Bill Jones – in office for four years on a promise of one – told the board of education Nov. 15 he would return to the retirement from which it called him, effective June 30, 2011.
Jones said he was giving early notice to allow the board a longer period in which to recruit and interview candidates to succeed him. Jones’ own selection came after interviews with multiple candidates, some of whom had county-wide oversight positions.
“I began to realize that there’s more (of life) behind me,” said Jones, “than there is in front of me.” He said he wants to turn his “attention back to my wife and family, including both parents,” who have had to stand down because of long hours and complex issues facing education in Wetzel County.
Jones also is a successful farmer-businessman, a “Gentleman farmer,” in his words, and will turn more of his attention to it than he has had time to do in the last four years.
The superintendent drew praise from board Vice President Bob Patterson, who said, “I respect and appreciate your integrity most of all,” a signal that the board may consider integrity a critical issue in the selection of Jones’ successor.
Other board members offered words of respect, including Member Willie Baker, who said he would miss Jones’ personal friendship. Board President Mike Blair provided comic relief to the unexpected announcement, quipping, “I want to drive your new tractor.”
There was no announcement as to how soon interviews for a new superintendent would get underway. However, that search is expected to begin almost immediately.
Earlier in the meeting, Jones presented checks of $4,000 each to representatives of the four public libraries in the county. The funds are the proceeds from the county’s five-year excess levy that helps provide local funding for the school system. “If it weren’t for this money, and private contributions, we could not exist,” said Donna Goontz of the Pine Grove Public Library. She noted that the Pine Grove Library recently 4installed a Wi-Fi computer connection, making it the final library in the county to do so.
The board also heard a citizen’s complaint concerning the coed soccer program at Magnolia High School, filed by MHS parent Steve Mullett. In the complaint, Mullett alleged that the school system violated US Title IX by failing to make available a girls’ soccer team.
Although the hearing was closed, in a phone call following the meeting, Mullett said 11 girls and parents attended an organizational meeting Aug. 10 at MHS – a sufficient number to field a team. He also said there were others interested who could not attend that meeting.
However, school officials, including MHS Principal Kathi Schmalz, say there were only eight students who attended the first practice Aug. 12. As a result, Schmalz said, those players expressed concern that they would lose playing opportunities and requested that the team be combined with the boys’ squad, thereby assuring that there would be a sufficient number of players to field a team.
In the complaint, Mullett asked the board to “reinstate” a girls’ team, even though the 2010-11 soccer season is over. He also asked the board to provide scholarship funds for six senior girls “who were denied an opportunity to earn those funds on their own.”
In addition, he asked the board to commit to a separate girls’ team next season, or to provide scholarship monies for three girls who will be seniors at that time. He also asked that all of the girls receive varsity letters for the 2010-11 year, as they would have in an all-girls’ team.
The board voted unanimously to deny the requests. Vice President Bob Patterson’s motion to do so also specifically sustained the findings of an earlier complaint, also filed by Mullett, that approved of the formation of a coed soccer squad at MHS.
Elsewhere, the board voted to terminate the contract of countywide substitute bus operator Teresa S. Jackson “for failure to fulfill the terms of her contract.”
The board also accepted the resignations of three employees: Kristina Earley as mentor-teacher in special education/social studies at Valley High School; Cathrina Jade Spencer as assistant cheerleader coach at VHS; and Dawn L. West as SAT coordinator at Long Drain School. Janice A. Moore was named to succeed to Earley’s position at VHS.
Meanwhile, Chris M. Wilson was approved for employment at LDS as halftime countywide MI/LD/BD with Autism teacher, effective Nov. 16. Wilson retains a halftime teaching position at the school.
In other personnel matters, at New Martinsville School, the board changed the classification of Peggy A. Huggins from countywide supervisory teacher aide/special education based at the school, to countywide supervisory teacher aide/Autism mentor, special education, effective Nov. 4. Huggins also was approved as countywide supervisory teacher aide in special education in the 2011-12 school year, providing that position exists at the time.
The board also approved Heather L. Hale as 7/8 grade cheerleader coach at NMS for the WVSSAC 2010-11 season.
At Magnolia and Paden City high schools, Angelica M. Arborleda was approved as Spanish teacher, while at Short Line School, Lance L. Binegar was approved as countywide MI/LD/BD with Autism teacher, pending his release from Mingo County schools.
The board approved on second and final reading a revision in a county compulsory attendance policy to make it conform to the language in state policy. It also authorized Randy Peffer, a senior at MHS, to leave school at the end of the seventh period for the 2010-11 school year; and authorized the Short Line School Boosters to raise funds in the school’s name.
An agreement was approved between West Liberty University and the county school system for student teachers, similar to agreements with Fairmont State University and other West Virginia colleges/universities.
The board also approved a tradition of an early dismissal, 12:05 p.m., on Dec. 22, giving students and employees some extra time off in advance of Christmas. It also approved the following commencement schedule:
Hundred High School: Thursday, May 26, 7 p.m.;
Magnolia High School: Friday, May 27, 8 p.m.;
Valley High School: Saturday, May 28, 10 a.m.; and
Paden City High School: Saturday, May 28, 2 p.m.
The board’s next regularly-scheduled meeting was set for 7 p.m., Dec. 6, at the board offices, 333 Foundry St., New Martinsville.