The Braxton County Board of Education conducted their most recent regular meeting on January 18.
Evelyn Post opened the meeting thanking Superintendent Kathy Hypes for closing the schools recently due to the inclement weather.
During the meeting, Superintendent Hypes discussed the new COVID guidelines presented by the state. She discussed the isolation and quarantine guidelines for universal masking and how vaccination status affects that. Superintendent Hypes discussed the different symptoms being seen with the omicron variant including it being more of an upper respiratory issue.
She informed the board she is looking into the possibility of starting a county screening program for all schools which will include “test to stay” and “test to play” strategies for students. This will allow students to stay in school with negative testing as an alternative to quarantining at home. Student athletes would also be able to test, if exposed, in order to participate in sporting events. Superintendent Hypes is hoping to be able to find a state approved laboratory to work with on this program to get it started.
She also discussed the state started a new practice in which every school must submit confirmed positive cases by 5:00 pm on Sunday for the previous Sunday through Saturday time period into statewide school surveillance. The information will be reported to the health department.
She noted that the recent closures of classrooms have been due more to staff shortages than to outbreaks. Only two of the classrooms closed were due to a virus outbreak.
Board President DeAnna Whipkey thanked new board member Martha Dean for stepping up to fill the seat left on the park board after the resignation of David Hoover. She also asked the other board members to consider stepping in to fill the other vacancy on the WV Extension Agency Board.
She reminded board members the WV School Board Association winter conference will be held on February 18 and 19 in Charleston. Options for attending livestream or in person are available. Deadline is February 10.
Evelyn Post discussed issues coming up in the current legislative term concerning school systems. She encouraged board members to provide input to their representatives on these issues that will impact our county.
Superintendent Hypes reminded board members starting at the next regular meeting the schools will be coming two at a time to complete their LSIC presentations.
Hypes briefly reported on the enrollment numbers for the past two fiscal years and per pupil expenditures. The numbers show the expenditures for all funding, local, state and federal, as well as food programs and salaries. Enrollment has been declining every year. She discussed the declining numbers is a combination of the pandemic and a drop in population.
Evelyn Post discussed looking into using local funds to provide optical and dental insurance for employees. Board members noted the budget would need to look 10+ years out to see if funding could be substained long term. That way it would not be something given to employees then have to be removed in later years due to budget cuts.
The following consent agenda items were approved: approval of January 4 meeting and January 5 work session; approval of transportation requests; payment of bills; and budget transfers and supplements.
The board approved the following service and extra-curricular recommendations: employment for Ashley Mollohan, substitute aid, Samantha Davis, preschool supervisory/instructional/transportation aide/ECCAT, Burnsville, and Jamie Given, assistant wrestling coach, BCHS; and resignation for Schannon Dennison, substitute custodian.
The board approved the fundraisers as they were presented.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:41 pm. The next regular meeting is scheduled for February 1 at 6:00 pm. As always, members of the Braxton County community are encouraged to attend regular board meetings. Any parent or concerned community member wishing to speak as a delegate or with public concerns may do so by signing in up to 15 minutes prior to the start of the meeting.