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Brooke County school board to cut 19 employees

WELLSBURG, W.Va. — Citing declining enrollment, the Brooke County Board of Education, on Monday, agreed to cut 19 staff members in the new school year and consider 21 others for transfers to other schools.

Superintendent Toni Shute said she was saddened by the cuts, which were spurred by an anticipated drop in enrollment of about 200 for the 2016-17 school year.

Board member Chad Haught said Brooke High School is just 12 students away from falling from a Class AAA athletic designation to Class AA, and Shute said it’s likely this year’s freshman class will be the smallest in the school’s history.

But she stressed a decline in student population has occurred at the middle and elementary schools also.

Shute noted there have been years where a substantial number of staff were cut in the spring but retained in the fall for various reasons, including the retirement of other staff members.

Shute said she hopes that will occur again this year.

She acknowledged special education teachers and aides often are cut but later restored because federal funding for their positions hasn’t been confirmed when the board is required to hold termination hearings.

Melissa Figlioli, the school district’s special education director, said transfers of some special education personnel also reflect an effort to make more services for special needs students available at schools closest to their homes.

Approved for termination, through reduction in force, were the following teachers: Griffin Yocum of Follansbee Middle School, Alyssa Roadman and Casey Stone, both of Hooverson Heights Primary School; Jami Mazeika, Chelsey Stowers and Keith Huntzinger, all of Wellsburg Middle School; Genette Eltringham of the Alternative Learning Center; Christina Kerns of Franklin Primary School, Caitlyn Knotts of L.B. Millsop Primary School and Mason Werner of Brooke High School.

Also to be terminated are classroom aides Lara Bailie and Amy Shaffer, both of Wellsburg Middle School; Evelyn Bucy and Adelina Johnson, both of Follansbee Middle School; Debbie Murdock of Beech Bottom Primary School and Pamela Boyd of Brooke High School; and bus aides Kelsie Blackburn and Patricia Williamson.

Asked if any cuts are planned with the merger of the two middle schools, slated for 2017, Shute noted school officials seeking support for the bond issue for the new middle school had stated no staff would be cut because ot it.

In related business, Rob Robinson, the school district’s facilities supervisor, said Columbia Gas has agreed to repair a section of gas line struck, but not ruptured, by crews working to clear the school’s future site.

Crews with Columbia Gas had relocated the line last fall to accommodate the construction of the new school near the west entrance to Brooke High School.

Robinson said there had been a misunderstanding about the line’s depth, and the repairs won’t cost the school board or affect the timeline for construction.

He said crews will be disconnecting the 120 foot line over a three-hour period this weekend and reconnecting it over another three-hour period next weekend, both when no activities are being held at the high school.

Robinson also reported a luncheon meeting will be held today with potential contractors for the school’s construction.

Also on Monday:

The board approved the hirings of Doug Lamp and Charles Taylor Jr. as assistant football coaches at the high school; Joe Pepe and Daniel Shorts, respectively, as head and assistant boys soccer coach, respectively, there; Elias Hannaoui and Derek Wayne as head and assistant girls soccer coach, respectively, there; Lori Jackson as head volleyball coach at the high school; Edward Fritz as head cross country coach there; Victoria Staffileno as a bus aide for special education students, Deanna Munson-Gross as a substitute aide, Lori Galiano as a substitute secretary and Gary Cooper as a substitute bus driver.

The board heard school improvement reports from Franklin and Hooverson Heights primary schools.

Dave Secrist, a teacher at Franklin, told how the school is encouraging pupils to adopt the attitudes covered by Sean Covey’s “7 Habits of Happy Kids.”

He said pupils have been rewarded for positive behavior with participation in activities inspired by “Survivor,” “The Hunger Games” and other themes that encourage creativity and teamwork.

Jill Bachinski, a parent on Hooverson Heights’ school improvement council, said to encourage parent involvement, the school’s Title I teachers and PTA have organized a summer reading camp, Valentines dance, for which parents and children received dance lessons, and other activities.

Hunter Mozingo, president of the school’s K-Kids chapter, a group initiated by the Wellsburg Kiwanis Club, told of various projects, including creating anti-bullying posters, raising $375 for UNICEF and selling boutonnieres at the Valentines dance to raise funds for the Hooverson Heights Community Watch program.

He and fellow member Abby Lawrence recited the K-Kids pledge.

Shute and Board President James Piccirillo expressed thanks to the many who attended and supported A Night at the Races event to support P.J. Blundon, the infant son of Jeff and Jamie Blundon, who was born premature and since birth has required continuous care at a children’s hospital, requiring his mother to quit her job.

Jeff is a teacher at Wellsburg Middle School.

Shute said each Brooke County school donated an item for the event’s Chinese auction, which alone raised $1,450 while the event overall raised $7,650 for the Blundons.

Piccirillo, who is P.J.’s great-uncle, said, “My family will be indebted to Brooke County forever.”

Board member Jim Lazear praised the Brooke County Council PTA for its recent spaghetti dinner in support of the group’s clothes closet for youth in need.

Shute noted the high school’s boys soccer team volunteered as servers, one of many community efforts undertaken by them under the direction of Coach Joe Pepe.

(Scott can be contacted at [email protected].)

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