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Barbour County BOE?hears parents’ concerns

December 1, 2011
By Beth Christian Broschart - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

The Barbour County Board of Education met Monday at Volga-Century Elementary School and heard from members of the Local School Improvement Committee.

Due to its size and location, Volga-Century Elementary School students, parents and staff face some unique challenges. The school, located 10 miles from Philippi, has a combined kindergarten and first grade and a combined third, fourth and fifth grade. School employees wear many hats and share many nontraditional duties. Students spend a great deal of time on school buses or waiting for buses, and don't have the same food services offered at other schools.

Brandi Workman is the president of the Volga-Century Elementary and a former student.

Article Photos

The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Brandi Workman, president of Volga-Century Elementary School P.T.O., addresses members of the Barbour County Board of Education with parent concerns during a regular meeting this week.

"I am concerned with the food service program at the school," Workman said. "Our children receive a prepackaged, preprepared breakfast that is full of processed food."

Workman also said kids receive lunches that have been prepared at Philippi Middle School and shipped to their school.

"The other day my child's lunch had a piece of pizza that was very burned," Workman said. "I told her to go get a better piece, but she said they were not allowed."

Workman said the children do not get enough to eat and are starved when they arrive home. She also expressed concern over the amount of processed foods the children are being served.

Board member Joanne McConnell said she hoped the state superintendent is looking into the issue of processed foods in schools.

"The superintendent seems to be an advocate for fresh foods with no preservatives," McConnell said.

Workman expressed her gratitude for the time staff spend at school and for the extra jobs each person takes on.

"Students arrive early at school, and the staff are here to be with the kids," Workman said. "The staff and teachers pull their weight, plus help clean and take care of the school. They go over and above; we appreciate their efforts, but they should have help."

She said the school is understaffed.

"The teachers have to prepare for many different activities since they are teaching more than one grade, plus they help with daily up keep of the school."

Time spent on the bus is another issue Workman addressed.

"Our kids sit here at school while the bus passes by the school to go to Philippi," Workman said. "I think it is time our kids came first. We could at least share in being first."

The P.T.O. at Volga-Century Elementary purchased a sign for the front of the school three years ago, and that sign has been in the principal's office ever since.

"I have been promised by two other superintendents the sign would be hung, and it is still sitting in Mrs. Swift's office" Workman said. "We take pride in our school and we wish you did, too."

The final issue with the school was the many leaks in the classrooms because of the need for a new roof. Board members were escorted through the school for a tour where they encountered many ceiling tiles missing where water leaks into the classrooms.

Barbour County Superintendent of Schools Joe Super promised to help with the sign issue.

"I can't guarantee the sign will be put up tomorrow," Super said. "But I will work to have the sign in place by the end of the year. This is the first time I have heard about the issue."

Board member David Everson reminded audience members that a sign-in is sheet available at each and every board meeting for anyone who has public comments.

"We welcome anyone who has something to say or has a problem we need to know about. Please come to a meeting, sign in and let us know," Everson said.

Board President David Strait also said that with the enrollment numbers at Volga-Century Elementary School, the board is providing the best it can.

"Thank you for updating us with all of your concerns," Strait said. "Community schools mean a lot, and every year we are faced with decisions about those schools. We are elected officials to oversee; and you need to let us know if you want fair or equal opportunities for your students."

Volga-Century Elementary School teachers also had a list of things they need.

"Most of the computers in the school are obsolete," said Nancy Burner-Ware, fifth-grade teacher.

She also pointed out that each teacher has a Mobi - a mobile interactive whiteboard, but they have not received training in how to use the technology.

Super told the group he would make contact and try to arrange for training for the staff to use the Mobi devices.

Meanwhile, Volga-Century Elementary School Principal Jennifer Swift said the recess de-stress program is working well for the students as a way to work out problems.

"If students are in recess de-stress, they spend half of their recess sitting out recess and talk with a teacher about what they did, why they did what they did and how they could have better handled the situation," Swift said. "We are very pleased with the program."

Also during the meeting, members of the Philip Barbour High School girls and boys cross country team were introduced and congratulated for their incredible season.

Cross country coach Melissa Kaiser told board members that the team's success is based in part on having athletic teams available to students in elementary and middle school.

"By knowing the basics, we can build on the fundamentals," Kaiser said. "This team is an example of what happens when you invest in youth."

The board did not offer support for a county middle school-based girl's softball team, however, with a vote of yes by Joanne McConnell and votes of no by David Everson, David Strait and Bob Wilkins.

In other business, Barbour County Board of Education took the following action:

The next Barbour County Board of Education meeting will be 6 p.m. Dec. 5, at Junior Elementary School.



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