Brooke ponders sites for learning center

WELLSBURG – The Brooke County Board of Education considered two new sites for its alternative learning center at a work meeting held Tuesday.

The center was established to provide a more structured environment for students with behavioral issues. At night it also serves students who have been expelled from the school district, which is legally obligated to provide them an education.

On Tuesday Rob Robinson, the school district’s facilities supervisor, said the board could build a new center at the site of the previous one or purchase a building on private property near the board’s office at 1201 Pleasant Ave.

He estimated the cost to build a new center, about 6,400 square feet, at $80,000.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said that cost aside, it’s more practical for the board to build on its own property than purchase the existing building.

The board asked Robinson to seek bids for the project.

In recent years the alternative learning center was moved, as a cost-saving measure, from a building at state Route 2 and 26th streets to a classroom in the vocational department at Brooke High School.

Students in the alternative learning center work and eat school breakfasts and lunches separately from other students at the high school. But Brooke County Sheriff’s Deputy John White, a prevention resource officer at the high school, said the location isn’t a good fit for the ALC students and suggested they be moved to a separate building.

In March the board moved to demolish the original center, saying the two-room structure lacked adequate space for the program.

In related business, Melissa Figlioli, the school district’s director of special education, said she and other school officials have been gathering information about alternative learning centers operated elsewhere in the Northern Panhandle with an eye toward improving the program.

She said proposed changes include expanding it to include centers for both middle schools and designating a staff member to oversee all three programs.

Asked if the position would receive a salary comparable to a principal, Superintendent Kathy Kidder said the staff member would more likely receive a stipend, such as the case with teachers who have served as acting principals.

In other business, Kidder said at the board’s next regular meeting, she will ask the board to consider a 2 percent raise for Marty Bartz, the school district’s assistant superintendent.

Kidder said the raise is based on the percentage approved by the board for her own contract in December, adding the state Department of Education hasn’t established a pay scale for superintendents and assistant superintendents.

Bartz’s current salary is $92,500. Named assistant superintendent in 2010, he has been employed by the school district for more than 35 years, during which he also has been a teacher, coach, principal and facilities supervisor.

Following his appointment as assistant superintendent, he continued to hold the facilities position until it was made a separate job again last year.

Because of a scheduling conflict, the board has moved its next regular meeting to 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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