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Berkeley schools to flag late resignations

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Berkeley County Schools will now mark late and unjustified resignations as a “resignation with prejudice” for professionals who chose to break their contracts right before school starts.

Superintendent Manny Arvon said after Monday night’s Board of Education meeting that the state adopted the policy of resignations with prejudice several years ago, but Berkeley County has used it sparingly up to this point.

“This is a practice that is used around us in other states as well, but it’s important. There are some cases where you get late in the summer, like now it’s Aug. 1, and we start having administrative meetings today, we have a principal meeting next week and teachers are back the week after that. Our rosters have to be filled and the most important aspect in all of this is the students who are sitting in our classrooms,” Arvon said.

Arvon said marked resignations will be a way for the district to remember those who left under these circumstances previously and to remember them in the future if they try to come back to the county.

“What we are saying to folks is that we can’t actually stop a broken contract if a person is going to sign a contract out of state. But what we can do is, we can label their resignation and put a flag on it stating that we didn’t feel they did it in a timely manner,” Arvon said.

Arvon also said a line of communication is always open with other nearby counties such as Morgan and Jefferson. He said that superintendents discuss situations where professionals may go from one county to the other because he wants to have a positive working relationship within the schools districts in the Eastern Panhandle.

This method will not be used for professionals who resign at such a late date within reason, Arvon said.

“We do now that sometimes there are circumstances where a person has to leave even when it’s a late notice and we understanding that and will work with folks. We are willing to bend over backward for those who may have family issues or for whatever reason it may be. We do understand that,” Arvon said.

By law, Arvon said the school district could start marking resignations as “prejudiced” on May 31, but Berkeley County didn’t start until July 15 because it “understands the competition.”

“But we have to protect our children,” Arvon said.

Arvon said, in most cases, late resignations cause issues for filling that position before school starts.

“We are just simply saying if you’re to leave our system do it early enough so we can go out and find a quality educator to replace you. Waiting until the last minute makes it very difficult on the district and the children that we serve,” Arvon said.

Currently, Berkeley County has 43 professional positions open, down from 278 professional positions it had open in April. The school district has hired 137 professionals since spring.

“We are in a good spot right now,” Arvon said.

In other action, the board heard from Tracy Heck, school nutrition director, about successful child nutrition and wellness initiatives from last school year and new programs that will be implemented in the new upcoming school year.

The board also heard from Jeremy Smith, an engineer with CMTA Energy Solutions, regarding the $28 million energy savings project that broke ground in June. Smith discussed where the project stands and said it is still on track to be completed before teachers and students enter the school toward the end of the month. Smith also said inspections will be conducted today at the three initial schools: Opequon Elementary School, Valley View Elementary School and Mill Creek Intermediate School. Smith will speak at Opequon Elementary School this afternoon and will show the board and guests what updates have been made thus far.

-Staff Writer Katiann Marshall can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 182 or at Twitter.com/kmarshallJN.

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