Braxton Citizens' News, Schools

Superintendent will not seek contract renewal

During the recent Braxton County Board of Education meeting held on April 18, Superintendent Dr. Rhonda Combs announced to the Board that she did not plan to seek contract renewal. Board President Evelyn Post made the following statement on behalf of the board: “The superintendent has chosen not to seek a contract beyond her current contract year that ends June 30, 2023.”

“I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s been a wonderful year of professional growth. The decision to not continue is strictly personal,” Dr. Combs stated.

Frametown Elementary and Flatwoods Elementary presented their LSIC reports to board members for approval during the meeting.

Frametown Principal Barbie Rader reviewed academic data. She noted the increase in scores in both math and reading from the beginning of the year benchmark testing to the middle of the year. However there are still academic gaps at all grade levels. She discussed programs for more student and parent engagement as well.

Principal Jo Malcomb from Flatwoods reviewed the WVDE Diagnostic Report for the school, and attendance data. They also showed growth in scores for reading and math from the beginning of the year to the mid-year testing. She also talked about student, parent, and community involvement and the need for a behavioral interventionist at her school.

Chris Campbell with ZMM Architects in Charleston presented plans for the HVAC and roof replacement at the high school. The HVAC bids will be going out within the next week with the estimated total being over $3.7 million for the project. The roofing will be done with a separate bid to come later. The estimated costs for that project will be $2+ million. The funding for the HVAC will come from the ARP funds and the roofing will come from local funds. On a motion by Kevin Gregory, the board approved to move forward with the bidding process for the HVAC system.

Finance Director Ginger Altizer, Federal Programs Director Kim Dennison, and Director of Teaching and Learning Linda Sears discussed with board members the federal pandemic relief funds. They noted funds that had already been earmarked for projects like the HVAC replacement at the high school. Also reviewed were the plans for the summer learning and money spent on the STEAM library.

Director Altizer briefly discussed the guidelines for substitute pay that is currently based on state code. The only way to do it different would be for the county to have a specific policy. Board President Post requested that she move forward with developing a policy to allow for sick leave for substitute teachers in long term positions.

Director Altizer also presented the levy rates for the 2023-24 school year for final approval by the board. Dr. Seal made the motion for the approval.

Also reviewed by Director Altizer was the financial audit completed by Hess, Stewart & Campbell, PLLC for FY22. A few items were noted in the findings including extra-curricular contract hours, segregation of duties, properly cancelling invoices, and employment contracts, but these were just basic comments. No findings were reported in the audit. The board approved the audit on a motion by Dr. Seal.

The final item reported by Director Altizer was the copy paper bids. On a motion by Larry Hardway, the board approved the bid from Contract Paper in the amount of $37.90 per case for the upcoming school year.

Director Sears presented the school calendars to board members. The staff voted 87 for calendar 2 and 44 for calendar 1. On a motion by Kevin Gregory, the board approved calendar 2 which has a start date for students of August 16, 2023.

Kevin Gregory requested the opportunity to bring an individual to the May 16 meeting to discuss the Future Leaders program by the WV National Guard. This program is an alternative to the Junior ROTC program and will provide four years of curriculum for high school students interested.

Dr. Seal and Board President Post also brought items of concern by parents including photos on Facebook and athletic opportunities for Superintendent Dr. Combs to investigate.

Under regular business, the board approved the following consent agenda items on a motion by Dr. Kenna Seal: minutes of April 11 regular meeting; transportation requests; treasurer’s report; budget transfers and supplements; and payment of bills.

The following personnel recommendations were approved on a motion by Dr. Seal: employment of Jennifer Coffman, 2023 summer registered nurse, James Huffman, substitute custodian, Angela Snyder, coordinator for 2023 summer feeding program, summer school custodians-Allen Shaver, Lisa Legg, Billy Rose, Caleb Shaver, Heather Nuzum, Chelsea Hosey, and April Thayer, summer school substitute custodians-Darla Shaver, Iris Fowler, and Veronica Frame, Bonnie Gendreau, summer school bus operator, summer school cooks-Donna Morris, Iris Robinson, Lisa Chenoweth, Lisa Allen, Tamara Miller, Cassandra Rose, and Garalea Fulks, summer school substitute cooks-Sherry Moats and Anita Miller; and resignations for Bonnie Gendreau, summer school substitute bus operator and Nathan Short, $1 assistant football coach, BCMS.

Also approved by board members were the Reduction-In-Force and Transfers and the Probationary Contract Renewals for the 2023-24 school year on separate motions. A complete listing of those positions can be found on the county website.

On separate motions, the following items were approved by the board: fundraisers; payment of field trip items as necessary for summer programming; Jessica Harper-parent volunteer for BCHS; and permission for summer school trip to Kennywood on July 20.

During the meeting the board held two executive sessions. The first was for the review of the superintendent’s contract and was held from 8:38 pm until 9:02 pm. The second was for an update on student discipline issues. That executive session ran from 9:37 pm to 10:38 pm. The meeting was adjourned immediately after the second session with no decisions made.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for May 2 at 6:00 pm at the board office.