Randolph BOE pulls agenda items

ELKINS – After a one-hour executive session, Randolph County Board of Education members voted Monday to pull two controversial items from the meeting’s agenda regarding the proposed combining of the principal positions at two schools.

Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George was going to make a recommendation Monday to combine two positions – the principals of Elkins High School and of Randolph Technical Center – because of the retirement of EHS Principal David Fincham and RTC Director Donald Johnson.

George told The Inter-Mountain last week he felt with both principals retiring this summer, the time was right to combine the positions into one job.

However, board members Lisa Wamsley, Harvey Taylor, Janie Newlon and Donna Auvil voted Monday to remove the agenda items – one to rescind a posting to hire a principal at Elkins High School, and one to create and post positions for a principal and assistant principal at Elkins High School/Randolph Technical Center.

Board member Bruce Haddix voted against pulling the items.

Many current Randolph Technical Center administrators, instructors and staff members, as well as past instructors, turned out for Monday’s meeting to show their opposition to combining the positions.

Three representatives of the Tech Center – current instructor Denise Stalnaker, retiring RTC Principal/CTE Director Donald Johnson and past instructor Lorrayne Corley – addressed board members Monday, asking them not to hire one principal to lead both Elkins High School and RTC.

“Randolph Technical Center includes not only secondary programs, but adult curriculums such as the LPN, SPOKES program and adult basic education,” Stalnaker said, pointing out both schools faired well in the most recent state educational designations.

“EHS is a success school. RTC is both an exemplary school and a School of Excellence. Is it reasonable to expect one principal to handle the responsibilities of both facilities?

Stalnaker also questioned how much money would be saved if the positions of principal at both schools were combined.

“Is the cost worth the loss of programs if procedures and guidelines are not followed?” Stalnaker said. “The new CTE director must have Federal Student Aid Training, which consists of 40-hour online courses and mandatory training. This has to continue to offer federal financial aid to adult students.”

Stalnaker said the two schools have always been separate entities with their own administrators, LSICs and Faculty Senates.

“Joining the two schools may be a possible violation of West Virginia State Board Policy 6204 regarding school consolidation,” she said.

Johnson said he could stop all of the discussion by asking the board not to accept his resignation.

“Believe me, I have thought about this over and over and over,” Johnson said. “I just can’t do that. I cannot work with the current administration so it’s best that I leave.”

Johnson said the state assistant superintendent of schools called him Monday morning.

“I did not call her, because I don’t work anymore,” Johnson said. “She said that this is what this amounts to. It is consolidation without going through the legal process and she is very concerned that there will not be a principal/career education director at our center because we have such a good center.”

Johnson said the RTC is one of the go-to centers in the state.

“We have piloted so many programs,” Johnson said. “The people who work at the center need someone dedicated to them – someone with connections. CTE is entirely financed by grant writing. A good director can bring in thousands of dollars into the county and I have done that.”

Corley said EHS and RTC have shared a campus with Midland Elementary School for years.

“The new construction of Elkins High in 1993 was not an addition to the Tech Center, but a separate school building with a connecting hallway for student comfort and safety,” Corley said. “I do not see a consolidation or combining of these two schools anywhere in the five-year plans of either school or the county plan.”

Also during Monday’s meeting, board members elected in the May election were sworn in by Randolph County Circuit Judge Jaymie Wilfong. Wamsley, Newlon and Auvil took the oath of office.

Board members then elected Wamsley president and Harvey Taylor vice president of the board.

Later in the meeting, Jonathan Paine, director of technology, introduced the new county website.

Board members voted to move Randolph County BOE meetings to 5 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month. The next Randolph County Board of Education meeting is slated for 5 p.m. July 22.