Braxton Citizens' News, Schools, Town Meeting

Board of Ed hears report on in-school health services

The most recent meeting of the Braxton County Board of Education was held on January 24.

Pam Schield with Community Care of WV spoke first to board members giving them a brief update on the services provided to students in the school system. She works as a liaison between CCWV and the school system. 

Schield compared numbers from the previous school year to the first semester of the 2022-2023 school year. For the year 21-22, CCWV provided services for 3000 medical visits. For the first semester this year, they have had 1003 medical visits.

On the behavioral health side, they had 176 visits for 21-22. That number included Sutton and Davis Elementary Schools. This year they have had 202 visits but that does not include those two schools due to being a therapist short. CCWV is looking into getting another therapist to get back into Sutton and Davis Elementary Schools.

Schield plans on providing a full year update sometime in May to the board members.

The board went into executive session early in the meeting at 6:14 pm for a discussion with Carolyn Long concerning the BCHS/Pierpont addition. They reconvened at 6:42 pm with no decisions made. Carolyn Long spoke publicly after the executive session with an overview of the project. The addition was built from 2006-08 and was built using public education and higher education funds. Pierpont now has total ownership of that potion of the building due to an agreement with Fairmont signed last year. She stated she has spoked with the president of Pierpont and the president is looking forward to opportunities in the future to utilize the space. Pierpont has several programs they are interested in integrating here.

Tim Via, Director of Secondary Curriculum and Kim Dennison, Director of Elementary Curriculum, updated the board on math and reading scores. It has previously been reported the math scores as well as reading are below grade level. At middle school, only about 15% of students are at grade level or above in math and 57% are two or more grade levels below. About 60% of students grew their test scores from the first benchmark to the second one. In reading, 30% are at or above grade level and 39% are two grade levels or more below. The percentage of growth was 53% from first to second benchmark testing. Director Via noted they are showing growth but still have a long way to go.

At the high school, they use a different platform for testing. The benchmark testing scores are very low however the students did show substantial growth from the first to the second testing. 

At the elementary level, Director Dennison discussed math and reading scores from the beginning of the year to the middle of the year. Kindergarten, first and second grade seem to be growing well. However, third, fourth, and fifth grade have little growth and sometimes even fall backwards.

Programs have been implemented to help improve scores including extra-time added around lunch for study, afterschool help, pre-algebra added for eight graders, professional training at the math conference and other trainings, the Eagle Recovery program, math nights at the elementary schools, and many other programs. Through the Eagle Recovery program, 100% of the seniors are on track to graduate this year. The high school is set to have 110 completers as part of the CTE program. Also 59 students are taking dual credit classes and 11 will graduate with an associate degree.

Both directors noted the math and reading performance is a challenge and the county needs to do better. However, the schools face several challenges including attendance and student/parent engagement.

Director Via also spoke on the issues with vaping and tobacco use in schools and the plans to discuss ways to address the issue at a future meeting.

Superintendent Dr. Rhonda Combs discussed using the data to make sure instruction is targeted to the needs of the students. She noted the state department will be rolling out a new third grade reading program soon. This will lead to revamping of the reading standards.

Dr. Combs also talked about the upcoming personnel season. She will be working with directors and principals to look at enrollment, positions and vacancies. She noted she doesn’t anticipate a lot of movement in positions. Dr. Kenna Seal and Board President Evelyn Post asked for an update on charter school and home school numbers and the effect it is having on the school system.

In regular action, the board approved the following consent agenda items: meeting minutes for the January 10 regular meeting and the January 12 special meeting; transportation requests; treasurer’s report; budget transfers and supplements; and payment of bills on a motion by Larry Hardway. Dr. Kenna Seal abstained from voting on the January 12 special meeting minutes as he was absent from that meeting.

On a motion by Lisa Ratliff, the following professional, service, and extra-curricular recommendations were approved: retirement of Sarah Dennison, business education teacher, BCHS; employment of Dr. Andrea Lemon, instructional interventionist, BCHS, Beverly Rollins, cafeteria manager, BCHS to executive secretary/transportation & facilities/ receptionist, board office, George Dennison, bus operator from bus 30A to bus 34A, Baylee Stewart, head softball coach, BCHS, Leah Herndon, head boys & girls track coach, BCMS, and Cody Dobbins, $1 baseball coach, BCHS; and resignations of Nicole Jarrell,. ½ time cook, BCHS, and James Huffman, instructional aide, grades 1&2, Sutton.

The board approved the fundraisers as they were presented, adding Nick Long to the Ad Hoc committee, the recommendation for expulsion of a student as determined at the January 12 special meeting with the additional recommendation that the student be placed on a virtual learning alternative education program, permission to post for a school security guard for the middle school and high school, and permission to split the 2/3 split class at Little Birch and post for an additional teacher on separate motions. 

Dr. Combs presented the board with the updated meeting schedule which included the LSIC presentations from the various schools: March 7-Davis and BCHS; March 21- Burnsville and Sutton; April 18- Frametown and Flatwoods; and May 2- Little Birch and BCMS. The meeting was adjourned at 7:54 pm. The next regular meeting is set for February 7 at 6:00 pm.