Officials, BOE discuss upcoming special session on education


PRUNTYTOWN—The Taylor County Board of Education held a special meeting last week to discuss upcoming changes in education.

On the heels of the special session for education, that is slated to start on May 20, the Taylor County Board of Education met with Amy Summers R-Taylor, Majority Leader to discuss some of their concerns and ideas.

The meeting was held at the Taylor County Board of Education office and was a round table discussion. All five board members were present, as well as Superintendent Christy Miller, Assistant Superintendent Pam Gallaher and West Virginia Education Department Association-Taylor President Renee Mahon.

Miller told the attendees that she attended a meeting earlier in the day in Charleston, with all of the county superintendents and State Superintendent of Schools Steven Paine.

During the meeting, she shared some of the topics discussed, which including homeschooling and the standards that are currently in place.

“We need to pull the reigns on homeschooling and set the standards higher to ensure these children are getting a proper education,” she voiced.

President Austin Upton told Summers that the he had some concerns about House bill 2541 and the requirements of the bill that must be in effect by September 1.

Some of the requirements that are included are first aid training, active shooting training, room numbers on exterior walls and providing updated floor plans of the schools to emergency personnel.

“The problem is we have our summer maintenance program and teacher improvement programs are already lined up,” he shared. “Now they are saying we have to change everything and there is no money for the extra they are wanting.”

Another topic discussed was concerns with SB 632, that calls for cameras in the classroom and where the funding would come from.

Board member Douglas Flohr voiced that the standards in the bill are not clear and he thinks it should be phased in to make sure it is done right.

“The issue with this is there is no guarantee that all districts will be afforded the opportunity to put the cameras in the classrooms where the bill states they need to be,” stated Miller. “In our county alone, we are talking approximately 35 classrooms.”

She voiced that the other unmentioned expense is the storage they will have to provide, to be able to comply with the three months that they have to keep footage.

Board member Clark Sinclair commented that he shares some of the same concerns about the funding.

Summers told the attendees that the bill was put in place after the incident in Berkeley County and she will look into how it will be funded.

In addition, Mahon, who is also a school counselor at Taylor County Middle School, shared that they need more counselors and mental health professionals to help the students.

“What we do not need is Charter Schools. We need to put more money into our public schools,” Mahon said. “We do not want open enrollment. In a county like Taylor County, we will go downhill fast.”

The topic about open enrollment was discussed further and Flohr told Summers that in a county like Taylor, it would be detrimental to the county.

Board member Patrick Tucker told Summers that he believes the schools in the county are wonderful but the problem lies with attracting people to the county.

“What is Taylor County going to do to attract folks here? The issue I have with open enrollment is that many residents work outside the county, and with that, many parents may decide to have their children go to another school,” he voiced. “Here in Taylor County, we do not have many jobs, housing or a lot of the other things surrounding counties have to offer.”

After further discussion, Summers told the board members that she can agree on their stance and will take their concerns into consideration, as well as share their ideas and concerns during the upcoming special session.

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