Randolph BOE to create split classrooms

Despite protest from parents, residents and even a county school employee, the Randolph County Board of Education voted Monday to combine several classes at Harman School and Valley Head Elementary School.

Randolph County Board of Education President Lisa Wamsley’s comment Monday on the split classroom issue was very concise and to the point.

“We ran a school bond to keep our community schools, which did not pass,” Wamsley said. “Our responsibility now is to present a balanced budget and to do what’s best for the 4,000-plus students we serve.”

Members of the board voted to create and post the teaching positions for a kindergarten/first grade split class at Harman School; a kindergarten/first grade/second grade split class at Valley Head Elementary School; a third grade/fourth grade/fifth grade split class at Valley Head Elementary School; and an industrial maintenance instructor at the Randolph Technical Center.

Prior to the vote, BOE members watched a PowerPoint presentation by Suzanne Thompson, technology integration specialist with Randolph County Schools.

Thompson’s presentation, “Say No to Combined Classrooms at Valley Head Elementary,” subtitled “Mission Impossible,” stated that asking one teacher to modify three lessons to fit into the same time frame other schools have for just one lesson is not fair.

Thompson gave board members a list of 10 students that would register for pre-kindergarten at Valley Head Elementary if it was offered.

Board member Ed Tyre asked if the numbers presented by Thompson had been verified. He also asked what it would take to add a pre-kindergarten class at Valley Head Elementary.

“It usually takes at least 10 students before we can put in a program,” said Pam Hewitt, assistant superintendent of Randolph County Schools. “That class would require two employees – a teacher and an aide. We look at having these classes where you can serve the most students.

“This year we have two classes at George Ward Elementary School that serve 40 students, using four employees,” Hewitt said. “I am not saying we cannot put a pre-kindergarten class at Valley Head Elementary, but we usually place those where we can utilize the instructors for the most kids.”

Board member Harvey Taylor asked if the list of 10 pre-kindergarten students that could attend Valley Head Elementary School had pre-registered.

Valley Head Principal Melissa Wilfong said only eight children pre-registered.

“Two did not show up to pre-register and two live in Pocahontas County,” said Wilfong. “But I do know one (family) is building a house in Randolph County.”

In other business, Interim Superintendent Terry George referred to representatives from Coalton speaking at the March 18 meeting about keeping Coalton School from being closed.

“There is no immediate closure slated for Coalton schools,” George said.

The Randolph County Board of Education classified three schools as “noted for closure” in its comprehensive educational facilities plan on Nov. 20, 2012. George said then that changes had to be made to the 10-year plan as a result of the proposed bond call failing in the Nov. 6 general election.

Homestead Elementary, Harman and Coalton Elementary schools were all listed as “potential closure” schools in the plan, George said.

On Monday, Wamsley announced that the board will add a work session to its meeting set for 6 p.m. April 17. The next regular board meeting is slated for 5:55 p.m. April 16.

Contact Beth Christian Broschart by email at bbroschart@theintermountain.com.