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Barbour elected BOE members take oath of office

June 13, 2012
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer , The Inter-Mountain

Two newly elected board members took their oath of office at the Barbour County Board of Education meeting on Monday.

Eric A. Ruf will join the Board of Education in July, representing the South District and Dana A. Stemple will represent the North District.

Ruf was elected with 1,118 votes against Stanley Swick, his division competitor, who finished with 682 votes.

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Stemple was elected with 1,362 votes against competitors, Judy Gain with 699 votes, Rex Freeman with 928, and Thomas Mouser with 682.

"I ... do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States and the constitution of the state of West Virginia and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of board member of the Barbour County Board of Education to the best of my skill and judgment, so help me God," said Ruf and Stemple in an oath led by Debbie Schoonover.

Ruf and Stemple will officially take their seats on the board at 12:01 a.m. on July 1, according to Board President David Strait.

"I do want to thank them for volunteering their time and service to the board," Strait said.

Strait and member Michael Talbott will not be returning to the board of education in July. Talbott said he declined to seek re-election.

"I just want to apologize to the effect that I was not as effective as I could have been, due to my job and children and things. I really, seriously considered running, but I just knew I couldn't do this job justice," Talbott said.

In other business, Glenn Sweet, director of facilities, attendance and technology, had good news to announce to the board that would save some funding for the upcoming fiscal year.

"I had an opportunity come to us a week and a half ago," Sweet said.

The opportunity he is referring to is a program that will allow parents to keep track of their students' grades online as they are updated by teachers. It doesn't, however, limit the parents to seeing final grades such as a report card. Instead, parents would be able to view grades for each paper, project or otherwise gradable exercise in the classroom that contributes to the final grade.

This program, called Live Grade, is similar to other programs that many other providers offer at a cost. Live Grade can be obtained by Barbour County Schools free of charge, saving about $6,000 of the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

"Citynet made an executive decision," said Sweet regarding the company's choice to provide this program to other West Virginia public schools free of charge.

It would replace the En Line program already in use by some Barbour County Schools. Philippi Middle School was using En Grade, a free program that didn't have all the features that Live Grade offers without paying additional fees.

"They (Citynet) indicated they're hopeful that we'll keep them in mind when it comes to upgrading telephone service or other services that they provide," Sweet replied when Talbott asked, "What's the catch?"

Sweet also said that Barbour County Schools would have no obligations to purchase services from Citynet by using the program. A contract for Live Grade is still in development.

The program also allows parents to send their child's teacher messages containing questions or concerns.

"Our principals were well in favor of moving in this direction," Sweet said.

In order for the program use to be a success to the students, parents and teachers, it would have to be regularly maintained, he said. According to Sweet, Harrison County requires teachers to maintain Live Grades.

Citynet, the company that produces the program, is from the Clarksburg area, according to Sweet. The program was originally created for Harrison County Schools, and once any problems with it were discovered and corrected, Citynet began to use the program as a marketing tool around the state.

In another report on Monday, Sweet said attendance in the school system as a whole this year met expectations; however, Belington Elementary School's attendance was down.

"The rest of them held in pretty good. All but two of the schools, I think, actually had an increase in their attendance overall," said Sweet about the end-of-year attendance percentage.

Missing 10 or more days of school, according to Sweet, means that those students are not in class for at least half of a month. He says that 43 percent of students within the Barbour County school system fall within that criteria.

"That's actually the best that we've done through this time frame," said Sweet.

Of those students within that 43 percent range, 8 percent have 10 or more unexcused absences, a number Sweet also regards as the best percentage within its respective time frame.

In other action, the board agreed to purchase two new buses. Normally, the board purchases three buses a year, but was $11,000 short in funding to cover the cost of a third bus.

The leftover funds will carry over into the budget for buses in the upcoming year.



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