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Board Suspends Employee

By Staff | Jan 8, 2014

The Wetzel County Board of Education voted Monday to uphold Superintendent Dennis Albright’s recommendation to suspend an employee for 30 working days.

The decision came after an approximately one hour executive session involving a bus driver at Monday night’s meeting.

The agenda cites the reason for the unpaid suspension as a violation of Employee Code of Conduct. The board’s vote was unanimous.

In other matters, Albright updated the board in regard to Rev. Dr. Victor L. Hunter’s request on behalf of the New Martinsville Ministerial Association to supply universal free meals for all Wetzel County schools. Hunter, of New Martinsville’s First Christian Church, suggested the free mans would be for all students in grades pre-kindergarten through eighth and Paden City Elementary School children, grades kindergarten through sixth.

Hunter stated that four of the grades in Wetzel County’s kindergarten through eighth grades are over 40 percent needy, meaning at least 40 percent of the households in the schools have been identified by the Department of Health and Human Resources or their incomes fall within the guidelines for free/reduced meal benefits. These schools included Center for Children and Families, Long Drain School, Short Line School, and New Martinsville School.

Albright proposed Monday night that, instead of making all student meals free, the county look at eliminating reduced meals. That means all students currently receiving reduced price meals would get theirs for free. There are 177 students in Wetzel County currently on the reduced meal plan. For the rest of the year, the cost of making those free would be about $9,000, or $22,000 for a whole year.

By contrast, Hunter said the amount needed to inaugurate the completely free food program would be less than $200,000, which amounts to slightly less than 15 percent of the $1.3 million surplus the board experienced last year.

“He was looking at trying to help the working poor,” said Albright of Hunter. The superintendent said he believed the reduced to free plan would be more effective at reaching that group without giving free meals to students whose parents/guardians could pay.

Board Member Bob Patterson voiced that he liked that approach.

Albright said he would contact other counties in the state, approximately eight, who have implemented such a system. Then he will return to the board with some specifics.

The next board of education meeting will be held Jan. 21, 6:30 p.m., at the county office.