Disciplinary problems are on the decline at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, principal Renee Warner said at Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, adding that the presence of a deputy sheriff in the hallways seems to be making a difference.
She said the goal was to reduce the alcohol, tobacco and drug violations by 10 percent from 2010 to 2011. Warner presented statistics from a discipline report on student behavior. There were eight infractions for the use or possession of alcohol, according to the report.
Another goal was to reduce aggressive acts and fighting by 10 percent. There were 28 physical fights without injury, 39 instances of battery against a student, eight threats of injury and three instances of battery against a school employee through Feb. 18.
"Do we have issues? We sure do, like everybody else, but they (school employees) are taking a proactive stance. This board has taken a proactive stance to try and limit that," Superintendent Scott Lampinen said. "When you look at the report, you'll see things like assault and battery and those kinds of words. Sometimes a student who gets upset with another student may push someone and that will go down as a battery."
Warner said the middle school has exceeded its goal for a 10-percent decrease in those behaviors so far, even though she said the statistics have increased since Feb. 18. Since mid-February, the total number of tobacco-related infractions has increased from eight to 12, and the instances of fighting and aggression have increased from 78 to 116.
"It's that stretch between Christmas and spring break, and kids have spring fever," Warner said, adding that the middle school's Prevention Resource Officer, C.J. Day, has recently been patrolling different areas of the school.
Jodie Akers, the director of student services for the Board of Education, said a $28,000 grant to support the Prevention Resource Officer at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School for the upcoming school year was submitted on March 22. The school system is seeking an additional $8,000 over the grant amount that was allotted on last year's application.
Akers said she is required to match the grant with $9,333. The Upshur County Commission usually assists with uniforms and other necessities in the amount of $5,900.
"It has been an invaluable program at the middle school," Akers said. "We are seeing a lot of great things happening."
In other matters, Lampinen announced that a planned school safety forum will take place at 6 p.m., April 25 in the cafeteria of Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. It is open to the public. Parents, students, teachers and community members are welcome to ask questions and make comments about the safety of Upshur County Schools.
Board members approved the purchase of a used vehicle for a lower price after tabling its purchase at a previous meeting because of the recently announced closure of Kelley Motors in Buckhannon. The vehicle is a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt with 60,000 miles on the odometer. The purchase price is $7,900. The car will be used in the county's Driver's Education courses.
The Board of Education will be presenting the levy rates and budget calendar for the upcoming year. Board members expect to approve the final budget in May and have a budget workshop at their April 16 meeting.
Board members approved bids for lawn care at the meeting. Highland Landscaping will perform lawn care for Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, Tennerton Elementary School and Buckhannon-Upshur High School. Brothers Property Management will take care of the lawn work for Buckhannon Academy Elementary, French Creek Elementary, Hodgesville Elementary, Union Elementary and Washington District Elementary schools. Happy Grass Lawn Care will perform the yard work for Rock Cave Elementary School.
Lampinen announced that Mariann D. Jack, the secretary of food service for Upshur County Schools, was nominated and selected as February's "Keys to Excellence" employee of the month. The person who nominated Jack remains anonymous, but stated in the nomination that Jack strives for perfection when working on projects or assisting staff members.
"She is the go-to person for advice on grammar, proper etiquette and thorough proof-reading," the nomination stated. "When she completes a project, you can be assured that it has been done well with special attention to quality and details."