By Kaylyn Christopher
Times West Virginian
The Marion County Board of Education met at Rivesville Elementary and Middle School on Monday for a regularly scheduled meeting.
The meeting was held at Rivesville to showcase and recognize the recent improvements that have been completed at the school, including a brand new covered walkway for students and staff to use when walking between buildings on campus.
At the meeting, the board approved the purchase of county vehicle GPS devices from Zonar, a company that provides electronic inspection, fleet tracking, telematics and transportation management systems.
According to Andy Neptune, administrative assistant of human resources and student support services for Marion County Schools, the GPS devices will be beneficial additions to the transportation department. The devices will be placed in all buses as well as all maintenance and administrative vehicles. They will provide important data related to mileage and fuel efficiency and will also enable real-time tracking so the location of buses and other vehicles that use the systems can be monitored at any given moment.
“We will be able to look and see where there is a breakdown and be able to tell what is wrong with the bus and where the bus is located,” Neptune said. “Then we can send the mechanics out there immediately to fix the bus. This will make us a more efficient department as far as transportation is concerned.”
The cost of the GPS devices is $70,327.20, but Neptune said 95 percent of that cost is reimbursable by the state.
“We thought that was a deal we could not pass up to take us to the next level as far as transportation is concerned,” he said.
Superintendent of Schools Gary Price said the installation of the GPS devices will likely begin during Christmas break when the buses and vehicles are not in frequent use.
Also at the meeting, the board approved several improvements to Monongah Middle School, which was recently named a National Blue Ribbon School.
The board approved emergency removal of asbestos from the ceiling and floor of a classroom located in the school. Price said the issue arose when recent flooding caused a roof drain to back up and flood the classroom. When the ceiling was damaged by the flooding, asbestos was found on one of the pipes, which called for replacement.
“As long as it’s not bothered, it’s OK, but once it became bothered we had to move the kids out of the room and now replace that,” Price said. “But of course, we have to have it abated before it’s replaced.”
Price said the abatement should be completed this weekend and then loose tiles will be removed and replaced.
In addition, the board approved the purchase of glass to replace a stairwell window at Monongah Middle.
“The wood that is holding that up is pretty well deteriorated,” Price said. “It needs to be completely removed and covered with aluminum.”
Monongah Middle has also raised some of its own funds to complete interior painting at the school.
According to Price, these improvements reflect the success the school has found academically as well as its efforts to enhance the actual building.
“They have done a lot to not only enrich the educational environment but also enrich the physical environment, which does have an effect on children,” Price said. “If it’s a nicer place to walk into and they see that the adults there care, then they will care a little bit more about it. Those things do go hand in hand when it comes to student performance.”
In other business:
• Two teachers were suspended without pay.
Judy Cooper, a kindergarten teacher at Jayenne Elementary School, was suspended for 20 days without pay, and Doris Toothman, a substitute aide, was suspended for three days without pay for their actions involving students.
Further details were not provided in order to protect students’ identities.
“They were just inappropriate actions that I feel certain will not be duplicated,” Price said.
• The board approved the hiring of several individuals to fill coaching positions.
“We thank the citizens who step up and get those certifications and take on those duties that provide a very important aspect of the children’s well-rounded education,” Price said.
• The board approved an agreement with the City of Mannington to pave the entrance of Blackshere Elementary School’s parking lot. The board will purchase the materials and the city will provide the labor.
Email Kaylyn Christopher at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @KChristopherTWV.