Board of Education Lifts Mask Mandate;
Begins Search for New Superintendent

The Braxton County Board of Education conducted their most recent meeting on Tuesday, March 1. Board member Evelyn Post acted as chair of the meeting as Board President DeAnna Whipkey and board member Dolores Wright were only available through TEAMS and not at the meeting in person. Two major topics highlighted the meeting. The Board has lifted the mask mandate for students and teachers. Superintendent Kathy Hypes announced that she would not be requesting a contract extension resulting in the Board beginning a search for her replacement.
The meeting opened with one parent, Mindy Mussano, asking the board to remove the universal mask mandate. Evelyn Post moved the discussion of covid updates up on the agenda to allow for her concerns to be addressed.
Superintendent Kathy Hypes spoke briefly on the recent changes in the guidelines release by the WVDE and the state health department. Face coverings are at the county board discretion and the new guidance does not mention universal masking. She also discussed the changes released by CDC relaxing masks indoors and on school buses.
The three school nurses, Morgan Dennison, Courtenay Smith, and Stephanie Moore all reported the number of positive covid cases has dropped significantly in the last month in all of the schools. Stephanie Moore also provided board members an update of the number of students vaccinated based on the WV DHHR website. On a motion by Dr. Kenna Seal with a second by DeAnna Whipkey, the board approved to allow masks optional effective immediately and to continue with mitigating efforts including positive students and staff to wear mask if they return for the six to ten day time frame as required by the CDC.
At the end of meeting Superintendent Kathy Hypes read a letter stating her decision to not seek renewal of her contract which ends on June 30, 2022. She thanked the county and the school system for her time serving as superintendent the past three years. In the letter, she spoke highly of the students and staff especially during the pandemic. Superintendent Hypes stated she wanted to give the board adequate time to hire her replacement.
Flatwoods and Sutton Elementary delivered their LSIC presentation to board members. Again academics and attendance were discussed at both schools. Family engagement, school climate, and school safety were also address by the schools. Both schools show improvement in iReady benchmark testing since the beginning of the school year. The schools discussed the mission statements and programs they have in place for improving scores, attendance, and the school climate, and increasing family engagement.
Superintendent Hypes discussed the new WV Grow Your Own program. The program was developed by the state to address the issue of teacher shortage to encourage current students to become teachers and return to their home counties to teach. Currently 18 counties are participating in the program including Braxton. High school students will complete 30 hours of coursework during their junior and senior years which will give them college credit towards their BA degree in education. After two years of coursework on campus, the participants come back to their home county as “clinical teacher of record” for their third year of college. Once that is completed, the students will then graduate with their BA and have their teacher certification. This program allows for large cost savings for the students. Superintendent Hypes noted she had an upcoming meeting on March 14 to discuss options including high schools partnering with more than one college for the program.
Under regular business, the board approved the following consent agenda items: approval of February 15 meeting minutes; transportation requests; payment of bills; budget transfers and supplements; and treasurer’s report.
The following professional, service and extracurricular recommendations were approved by the board: employment of 2022 summer teachers for K-12 core instruction, enrichment/activity, and credit recovery as needed, contingent on number of students-Laura Allen, Heather Arnold, Rebecca DeNuzzo, Trisha Gregory, Lindsay Harman, Faith Harper, Kathryn Singleton, Erica Toler, Kelsie Tonkin, Dawn Ward, Sue Ann White, Tina Knight, Jennifer Miller, Alice Smith,Ethan Backus, Melinda Devilleneuve, Anita Lambert, Joshua Porto, Shawn Crow, Sharon Desper, Jami Hefner, Susan Kearns, Patricia Gillespie, and Marinda Locke; Cory Stout, substitute teacher, Lori Ferrel, instructional tutor, Little Birch, Johnna Cable, instructional tutor, Davis, Emily Oates, substitute aide, Robert Mitchell, bus operator, Robert Lloyd, head track coach, BCHS, Lee Given, $1 assistant softball coach, BCMS, and Cody Dobbins, $1 assistant baseball coach, BCHS; leave of absence for Patrick Facemire; and resignations for Katrina Dennison, fifth grade teacher, Frametown and Nathan Smarr, athletic director, BCHS.
The board also approved the following items on separate motions: fundraisers; parent volunteers for Davis-Karla Conrad, Daisy Thomas, and Leo Thomas; parent volunteers for Little Birch-Beth Snodgrass, Amy Jamison, Donna Harper, and Jerry Rose; permission to post ESY (Extended School Year-Special Education) teacher; and permission to post two part-time positions funded through Step 21 Project: Division of Rehabilitation Service-Transition Program Coordinator and Extended Day Transition Program Specialist.
Superintendent Hypes reviewed the first reading of the new Braxton County Board of Education Policy 3125: Extra-Duty Assignments-Service Personnel. Currently no policy is in place that outlines what is considered extra-duty or extra-curricular and the pay rates for each. The new policy used input from the county’s service personnel and is based on WV Code.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:58 pm. The next regular meeting is scheduled for March 15 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.