Software could enhance Upshur’s substitute system

The Upshur County Board of Education will study the possibility of incorporating a software system that already is in place in 40 West Virginia counties.

The system could enhance the process of calling a substitute teacher to fill in for an instructor who cannot be at work. It also could allow teachers to call in and report that they will not be able to make it to work when a representative may not be available to answer the phone. With just a few clicks, a teacher can report his or her absence.

The system could automatically call in a substitute, and keep track of that substitute’s progress in the classroom while the instructor is away. It even can record if the substitute who was called was available or had to deny the opportunity to teach on the day in question. This software also can keep track of which substitutes frequently turn down the opportunity to teach and their reasons for doing so.

“I think accuracy and record-keeping is a huge benefit,” Superintendent Scott Lampinen said during a recent meeting.

The software also can store class data and lesson plans, which can be accessed by the substitute. The substitute could then leave feedback for the regular teacher.

The school board members want to contact teachers who have worked with the software before to learn more about what they think of the software. Board member Patrick Long said he would like to read more about the program.

Based on the cost estimates, the program could cost less than $10,000, depending on the county’s needs.

“I believe it could save us much more than that in efficiencies each year,” Finance Manager George Carver said.

Carver said he hopes to test or implement the software during the last few weeks of school so it could be ready for the start of a new school year next fall.

In other news, Upshur County Extension agent Craig Presar spoke to board members about nutrition concerns, ranging from obesity to children who are unable to get enough to eat.

“It’s just odd to me that we have both of those problems at the same time,” Presar said. “Either kids aren’t getting enough to eat, or they’re eating too much.”

Presar said he would take a closer look at how to address childhood nutrition. He said he hopes to do more with cooking and nutrition classes for kids.

“It’s kind of my responsibility to help kids start understanding what it means to cook a healthy meal,” he said.

Presar said he’d love to do some cooking classes with middle and high school students. He said the goal is to change the perception that it is more costly to eat healthy.

“You can eat healthy on a budget,” Presar said.

In other news, two representatives for Upshur County Schools, Keith Moran and Jodi Akers, have been attending a four-day Automated Critical Management Station training.

“Those two days have been a little crazy, but (there’s been) a lot of information,” Moran said, adding that he and Akers already attended the first two days of training.

He said the management station is a database that keeps a record of all schools, fire departments, police departments, first responders and more in the county for emergency preparedness.

“The state is really serious about what’s going on within our school systems and making sure that the process doesn’t just stop within our own county, that it continues all the way through and hits all the entities it needs to,” Moran said.