Students will return to BES in fall

PHILIPPI – Belington Elementary School third- and fourth-grade classrooms will be returning to the school this week after being moved to Belington Middle School in January due to a heater problem.

Glenn Sweet, facilities director for Barbour County Schools, announced at Wednesday’s Barbour County Board of Education meeting that the affected teachers will begin moving their classroom items back on Wednesday.

The heater problem at BES was discovered after a gas odor prompted the evacuation of the entire school on Jan. 15. After students were allowed to return to the school, third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes were moved to BMS because of the persistent heating problem.

Officials have since received the heat exchanger that was necessary to make the repairs. Officials plan to test the heater before the start of the school year while students are not in the building.

The Board of Education anticipates that students will begin the school year at their traditionally assigned schools, officials said. However, because the BOE voted last year to move all the county’s fifth-graders to middle schools beginning this fall, only the third and fourth grades will return to BES.

Sweet said there have been rumors around the county that students would not be able to return by the beginning of the school year because of further delays. Sweet said this was not true, because progress with repairing the heater has been on schedule.

In recent months, the Board of Education discussed moving the students back to BES sooner, but came to the consensus it was best not to interrupt their education with a change of school again so late in the school year.

Also during Monday’s meeting:

– Andy Cocina and Sam Marotta with Wendel Energy told the BOE its projected savings for electric and gas are balancing out and are right on track.

Marotta said the BOE is saving more than the guaranteed amount of savings for electricity, but spending a little bit more than that amount on gas. However, he said the two balance out in a way that shows the BOE is on track with its goals to save on electricity and gas costs. Wendel Energy was contracted to assist the BOE with those goals and determine where savings can be made.

– Although the BOE will be saving on expenses for energy, it will be losing a combined 387 years of service to Barbour County schools due to the retirement of service and professional employees.

BOE members hosted a reception for 14 retirees at Monday’s meeting, thanking them and individually recognizing them for their hard work.

“The gap that it will leave, the hole that it will leave in our education system will be felt,” Central Office Director Elaine Benson said. “It will be felt, but it will take us a while to adjust, because the talents and the skills and the caring and experience, there’s something to be said for that. So, we want to honor each of them and let you know that they are going to be missed.”

Retiring service personnel include BES Aide IV Janna Duckworth with 29 years of experience, Philippi Elementary School aide Sharon Poe with 20 and Philip Barbour High School custodian Noble Fitzwater with six years in Barbour County schools.

Professional service retirees include BES teacher Lynn Luvara with 18 years of experience, Mount Vernon Elementary School special education teacher Susan Marsh with 29, BES special education teacher Kathleen Chitester with 33, BES Kindergarten teacher Donna Endler with 36, PBHS teacher Danny Wagner with 32, BES Band Director Richard Kennedy Jr. with 40, Philippi Middle School Title I teacher Sandra Kennedy with 42, BES special education teacher Connie Harshberger with 30, BES teacher Jodi Devores with 33, Sarah Shipman-Kuntz with 19, and PES teacher Linda Eddy with 20 years of service in the county.