Several situations, including a Lent-friendly menu, the suspension of a Paden City High School teacher, and on-spot chains on buses, were topics of conversation at Monday night's meeting of the Wetzel County Board of Education.
The topic that held the most conversation seemed to be the last topic of the evening, brought forth by Board President Mike Blair. "Do we do anything, in our school cafeteria, based off of religious Lent season issues?"
Without speaking, Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones stood and passed out packets to each board member. He directed the board's attention to a piece of information highlighted in the packet, stating that according to Richard Goff, the state's Executive Director of Child Nutrition, the board is not required to have a Lent-friendly menu.
"Haven't we done this before?" asked Board Vice President Bob Patterson. "The item we are discussing is fish on Friday. We've always done that in the past."
"Provide your rational for why you think this way is the preferable way," Superintendent Diane Watt said to Jones.
"Last year I had staff members approach me as to why our menu changed in the springtime," Jones explained. "I would say, well, it's just a menu. No difference. It's a menu. They said, well, they missed some of their regular food items. At the time, I spoke with board members. They indicated it wasn't necessary to provide a Lenten menu. I spoke with co-op. Wetzel County is a member of a 19-county co-op called Mountaineer Highlands. The pages behind Mr. Goff's reply to me, is county by county, as to what some of their surrounding counties in our co-op do in respect of the Lenten season."
"I think if I understand," Watt replied, "You have had equal amounts of people that would like to have it, a specific menu, and equally, you've had people in the past that did not appreciate it."
"That may be accurate," Jones agreed.
Vice Patterson Bob Patterson expressed his concerns as to why the board could not accommodate those who desired a Lent-friendly menu.
"If it's worked for years, why change it?" stated Board Member Linda Kirk.
It was finally decided that the schools would, starting in March, go back to offering a Lent-friendly menu that would hopefully appease both sides
Charity Ratliff was the first speaker to address concerns at Monday night's Board of Education meeting. "I'm here tonight, because I'm concerned about my daughter being taught at Paden City High School by Mr. West. I'm not happy with your decision you made to keep him on board."
"We aren't discussing personnel matters in a public forum," President Mike Blair quickly replied.
Ratliff stated that she was concerned about her daughter's safety, in which Blair responded that if she had any questions concerning safety in school, she should direct them to the Superintendent of Schools, Watt.
In another matter, Chuck Roberts addressed the board concerning "something that happens quite a bit." He explained, "A few years ago, Magnolia's athletic director was cursing at me and my son. The principal made him apologize. Had it been my son, the cops would've been called and he would've been kicked out. I'm concerned what protocol is, what the policy is . . . why teacher's are not held at the same level."
Blair stated he could not recall the situation but stated that the appropriate policies could be accessed on the internet.
Concerned parent Lori Lowe stated that she was worried about her two children going to Valley High School. "I have a concern with another child that attends school there. I know he has made threats. My son witnessed one." Lowe stated the individual also has made a comment on his Facebook page about how he feels nothing when someone gets hurt.
She added, "As far as we are told, they cannot deny this child an education once he comes out of the hospital or wherever he is at the time. I have two children in this school . . . " Lowe then described threats that were supposedly made by this individual, stating that the student said he would "Dip them in acid, feet first . . . shoot them."
Blair stated that no one on the board is aware of the situation. "I would ask you to please discuss that with the superintendent, anything you have. I don't think that needs to be addressed here tonight. I think it will be addressed by Ms. Watt."
Watt then asked Lowe to call her the next day, in the afternoon.
Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones then gave a report on On-Spot chains for Wetzel County School buses, beginning by stating that Wetzel County has had 14 buses that have had On-Spot, automatic, chains installed."
"The material I have provided each of you, on the front page you will see a communication between myself and the bus garage, on a specific plan to reinstall on buses they have been removed from. Jones stated that on six buses, chains have been removed and have not been reinstalled. "There's a plan in place," he noted. "Specific with dates."
"On the first two buses, to have them re-installed, I have worked with a group of drivers over the last couple of weeks to come to formulate a plan that they are satisfied with and that the county is satisfied with, to retrofit buses that are purchased last year that didn't have automatic chains." Jones noted that three buses purchased last year did not have chains.
Jones said that, currently, the schedule is one bus per week. "We still need to maintain the Preventive Maintenance Schedule and those things that are unforeseen." He explained, "When we looked at the PM schedule, we saw one bus scheduled on specific dates, and we felt that would be ample time for On-Spots to be re-installed." Jones further explained that the cost is currently $3,002 and odd cents for the chains. The cost for chains two years ago was $2,200. Training for drivers to explain the significance of on-spot chains will be held on snow days and ISE days.
Sandy Hurst, president of the county's West Virginia Service Personnel, then spoke to the board, thanking everyone for working with the drivers and "getting our chains re-installed."
Jay Yeager, assistant superintendent of Wetzel County Schools, then notified the board that Wetzel County Schools have three make-up days for snow days.
He stated that the last day of school " would be June 5. We have three days could be made up."
Yeager said that some time next month, after the first, the board would be given an adjusted calendar to approve.