By Jean A. Flanagan
“We have two complexes and two instructors. It’s time we looked at a new model. The current model is not sustainable.”
West Virginia University Reymann Memorial Farm Manager Jerry Yates provided the Hardy County Board of Education with, what he called, a compromise.
The board has proposed combining the Moorefield Middle School Agriculture Education position with the East Hardy Early Middle School Agriculture Education position. The teacher would teach at EHEMS in the morning and MMS in the afternoon. The change would eliminate one part-time Ag Education position and add an Ag Education class for 6th grade at EHEMS.
A standing-room-only audience attended the Board of Education meeting on Monday, March 6. Several members of the public also attended the Reduction In Force hearing held on Wednesday, March 1 addressing the same subject.
“We have an unusual situation,” Yates said. “At Moorefield, there is a strong Ag Education and FFA presence at the middle school, but the high school is struggling.
[private] “At East Hardy, it’s the opposite. There, Ag Education is strong at the high school, but the middle school struggles.”
Yates suggestion is that the Ag Education teacher at East Hardy cover both middle and high school classes. The same is suggested for Moorefield – the Ag teacher cover both middle and high schools.
“I’ve always thought that windshield time was for truck drivers and bus drivers,” Yates said. “The time wasted going back and forth between the east and west side of the county is just that, wasted time.
“One person cannot manage the Sherman and Ludwig property development. It just can’t be done.
“This is a compromise. I’m offering a solution, an alternative, something for you to consider.”
Both the Sherman property in Moorefield, now referred to as the Main Street Project, and the Ludwig property in Baker, are working to become hands-on, practical, working experience for Ag Education students in the respective high schools.
“We appreciate your support,” said Board member Margaret Shriver. “We have the same goal, but we have budget issues we have to take care of. We have two full time positions and the class loads only support one position. We’re not cutting programs, we’re cutting a position.”
Several other people addressed the Ag Education RIF during public comment.
Ashley Yates said she had to take three classes she didn’t want because there wasn’t enough Ag Education classes at EHHS.
“We have eight AP (Advanced Placement) classes,” she said. “If you’re smart enough to take AP, go to Eastern (WV Community and Technical) College.”
Ray Funkhouser said he has two daughters at East Hardy and the one in middle school could only take Ag Education classes for six weeks and then had to move to another class.
“Agriculture is the biggest part of this county,” he said. “I don’t understand.”
“I’m disappointed that you are talking about cutting teachers and you are still considering buying the Sherman property,” said Darwin Simmons.
The former Sherman property is adjacent to Moorefield High School. The Board of Education has entered into a lease-purchase agreement with the Hardy County Rural Development Authority to purchase the property over 10 years.
Others of the public spoke in protest of the superintendent’s recommendation that schools share librarians. It is suggested EHEMS and EHHS share librarians and Moorefield Elementary and Moorefield Intermediate schools share librarians.
“I am asking as a parent, don’t let our children’s reading suffer,” said Karen Breden. “They need that foundation and some children don’t have access to books.”
Annette Chaney presented a petition to save the EHEMS librarian position. “There are 25 classes a week that go to the library,” she said.
According to Hardy County School Superintendent Dr. Matthew Dotson, he has recommended to the board that Moorefield Elementary School and Moorefield Intermediate School share a librarian. In addition, Moorefield Middle School and East Hardy Early Middle School will share a librarian.
“We’ve had to transfer different positions so as not to go over our school-aid formula,” Dotson said. “While we are eliminating two positions, one of the librarians will retire and the other is transferring to another position.”
The school-aid formula is the method by which county school systems receive state funding. The formula is based on enrollment, number of special education students, number of minority students and number of low socioeconomic students. The school-aid formula determines the number of professional and service personnel a school system can employ.
Board of Education President Nancy Hahn said a decision had not been made about the Ag Education position.
“There were technical difficulties with the hearings on March 1,” she said.
“They have to be redone. There will be no action taken tonight.”
MHS Softball coach Tammy Ayers came to update the board on the status of the proposed softball field.
Ayers had previously requested the board permit a girl’s softball field be constructed on land adjacent to Moorefield Middle School. Currently the softball team shares playing and practice fields with Moorefield Little League at the town park, while the boys baseball team has dedicated fields adjacent to MHS.
“I have been talking with people and writing grant applications,” Ayers said. “I need a letter of support from the board to go with a Major League Baseball grant.”
Ayers said she had commitments from businesses to help with moving dirt, planting grass and an engineer had looked at the property for drainage. “The boosters will help with the lighting,” she said.
Board member Brad Simmons suggested Ayers make sure the property she is considering belongs to the school system.
“You need 25 acres,” he said. “You need to find out who owns what.”
“The land is there, but there is no money,” Board member Dixie Bean commented. “The money is the problem.”
Bean said the Burlington Children’s Home received a grant from Major League Baseball, who built a baseball field for that facility.
“This is really a Title IX issue,” Ayers said. “We don’t have the same opportunities as boys baseball.”
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 says that no one can be excluded from participation in any educational program or activity based on sex.
•Moorefield Elementary School Local School Improvement Committee presented their report to the board.
•Moorefield High School Local School Improvement Committee presented their report to the board.
•The board approved the 2017 – 2018 school calendar. School will begin on Thursday, Aug. 17, and end on Friday, June 1, 2018, barring any inclement weather days.
•The next meeting of the Hardy County Board of Education will be held on Monday, March 20 beginning at 6 p.m. The meeting will be held at Moorefield Intermediate School. The public is invited to attend. [/private]