Brooke board updated on school activities

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Board of Education on Monday heard about various activities occurring at three local schools, from helping local families in need to rewarding positive behavior.

With a meeting held at Franklin Primary School, the board continued its practice of meeting periodically at local schools to hear reports from the school improvement councils of a handful of schools.

Comprised of staff, community members and in some cases, students, the councils are charged with improving schools in various areas, including academic performance, extracurricular activities and facilities and grounds.

Carrie Ciccolella, a teacher at Hooverson Heights Primary School and member of its improvement council, spoke on behalf of Principal Nicole Ennis, who is on maternity leave.

She said a Parent Resource Center, with brochures on various issues of interest to parents, has been established there and good behavior has been encouraged through buckets bearing pupils’ names in which staff or other pupils may place notes praising specific acts of kindness.

Ciccolella added the school has helped local families in need, collecting food and gifts for nine families at Christmas; and with the help of Hooverson Heights Church of Christ, and for weekends, supplying backpacks filled with non-perishable food to 14 children who receive free lunches at school.

Alexis Spensky, president of the school’s K-Kids club, said the group raised $250 for UNICEF by doing chores for family and neighbors, decorated pumpkins for residents at local nursing homes and is collecting materials for the Brooke County Animal Shelter, among other projects.

Scott Donohew, principal of Franklin Primary School, said fitness has been stressed with the help of physical education instructor Dave Secrist, who leads pupils in various exercises each Friday using fitness videos and taught them line dancing for a Valentines Day party.

Donohew added teachers have used Smartboards, a computerized-form of whiteboards with projects linked to the Internet, to teach subjects ranging from language arts to music and pupils have used the school’s computer lab for various lessons and assignments.

Kaili Ridgley, president of the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association, said other schools have become interested in forming a Kids Konnection group like the school’s. The children’s group has been involved in such activities as collecting litter along a section of Wellsburg’s Yankee Trail on a monthly basis and promoting recycling through a booth at the Brooke County Fair.

Toni Shute, principal of Brooke High School, attributed a drop in discipline problems to increased communication between staff, students and parents when the first problems occur with a student, increased presence of teachers in the halls and the switch from a block schedule with 90-minute class periods to a new schedule with one made up largely of 40-minute periods.

Shute said the school also offers many groups for students of all interests, not only those into sports or with higher grades, including the Bruin Leaders program, in which upperclassmen help freshmen to adjust to their new environment and various community efforts, including collecting canned goods for families in need at Christmas and serving spaghetti to hundreds at a community dinner on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Juliet Casinelli, a Brooke High School senior on the council, also supported the schedule change. She said the shorter periods make it easier for teachers to hold students’ attention and she has taken home more work, which she said will better prepare her for college.

Each council reported students have been rewarded for good behavior with concerts and other special programs and play money that may be redeemed for various items at the school store.

In other business, the board:

Recognized the Wellsburg Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade volleyball teams and seventh-grade girls basketball team.

Coached by Ron Javorksy, the eighth-grade volleyball team won the Buckeye-Mountaineer Conference Championship in the small school division and the seventh-grade team, coached by James McFadden, was runner-up.

Also coached by McFadden, the basketball team won the big school-small school BMC Championship for that sport.

Agreed to consider reductions in force for three staff members: Nicole Cowgill, a special education instructor at Beech Bottom Primary School; Allisha Fuscardo, online Spanish instructor at Wellsburg Middle School; and Tauna Metzner, GED preparation instructor for the adult education program.

Kathy Kidder, school superintendent, said Cowgill’s and Metzner’s positions are pending the award of federal and state money and may be reinstated once those funds become available.

The online Spanish instructor was hired on a temporary basis because a live instructor wasn’t available but will be replaced by a live instructor in the fall, she said.

Approved the $124,529 purchase from Blue Bird Sales of Pittsburgh of four new school buses – two conventional models with seating for 77 and two for students with special needs, each with seating for 53. The move was made at the recommendation of Transportation Director Ron Staffileno.

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