Community, The Braxton Democrat

Board of Ed Approves Budget That Includes Activity Buses and More Funding for Walking Students

The Braxton County Board of Education held a special meeting on May 31 at 9:00 am. The main purpose of the special meeting was to discuss and approve the budget for the 2022-23 school year. Superintendent Kathy Hypes informed board members that the Federal Pandemic Relief Funds were not part of the regular budget but the report on those funds would be presented at the next regular meeting.

Evelyn Post asked several questions regarding the budget as it was presented. First, she asked about the doubling of the school board members’ wages and requested that the extra be removed. Director of Finance Ginger Altizer noted the $24,974 would be removed from the budget.

Post discussed finding money for activity buses for extra-curricular activities, not just athletics but also academic programs. She asked for a baseline of $30,000 to be placed in the budget to get the activity buses started back up for the new school year. Dr. Kenna Seal questioned if there would be enough students for the program. The board discussed possibly including elementary schools in the plan for their academic programs.

Dr. Seal noted the recent passage of HB3380 in reference to athletic transportation. The bill clarifies that school sponsored activities can be transported in nine seat passenger vehicles. Two vehicles per activity can be taken with up to nineteen students. He stated the county may need to look into purchasing such vehicles for transportation needs.

Post then questions the budget line item concerning academic coaches. It was explained there were two academic coaches who were paid through federal Title I and Title II funds. The line item also included pay for the central office related to the program from those federal funds.

Post asked if the county had a PRO officer as it was budgeted. Director Altizer stated that the school system did not have a PRO officer at this time, but she kept the amount set in the budget. Superintendent Hypes noted the high school was very interested in having one in the= school and it was a possibility. The continuing issue with having a PRO officer is the lack of staffing at the Braxton County Sheriff ’s Department to take that position. Post noted making the schools need to be kept as safe as possible should be a priority for the school system.

Post questioned the cut in the gifted program in the budget. Director Altizer stated it was reflective of the drop in the number of students in the program at the middle school.

She then asked about the jump in the liability insurance. Director Altizer noted evaluations of the school property had been completed which was possibly the reason why there was an increase in the liability insurance.

Dr. Seal questioned the budget for “walking” students. Director Altizer stated the funds had been reduced as it was not being used as much, only $1100 in the last two years. A possible reason for the drop in usage may be that parents do not realize it as an option. Dr. Seal requested the budget be increased to $4000 for walking students. President DeAnna Whipkey noted the policy on “walking” students had not been updated since 2013 and may need to be revisited soon.

The board approved the budget with the addition of the $30,000 start up for the activity buses and $4000 for walking students on a motion by Dr. Seal with a second by Evelyn Post.

The next item on the agenda was the approval of the contract for Educational

Consultant, Beverly Kingery for the 2022-23 school year. It was noted the funding for the position came from federal funds. The contract was approved on a motion by Dr. Martha Dean with a second by Dolores Wright on a vote of 4-1. Post voted against the contract approval.

Under regular business, the board approved the payment of bills on a motion by Post with a second by Wright.

The board approved the following professional and extra-curricular recommendations on a motion by Dr. Seal with a second by Evelyn Post: employment for Lydia Sheets, 2022 summer music teacher; and resignations for Allison White Vaughan, special education teacher, BCMS, Jennifer Grindo, head track coach and head soccer coach, BCMS, and Gerald Frame, golf coach, BCHS.

The board went into executive session at 9:49 am to discuss the contract for Dr. Rhonda Combs on a motion by Dr. Dean with a second by Post. They reconvened at 10:38 am with no action taken.

Dr. Dean made a motion “to ratify the May 24, 2022 appointment of Dr. Rhonda Combs as Superintendent of Braxton County Schools to begin July 1, 2022 and to end June 30, 2023 at a total salary of $115,000 to be paid on a bi-monthly basis and approve all the terms and conditions of this form of contract which has been distributed to board members, is available for inspection by members of the public attending this meeting prior to action by the board, will be made of the minutes of the meeting, and shall be signed by the President on behalf of the board.” The motion was seconded by Dolores Wright and was unanimously approved.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:40 am. The next regular meeting is scheduled for June 7 at 6:00 pm.