County schools may start online program

NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County may soon be the first school district in West Virginia to operate its own online school.

The district is awaiting word on whether it has received a grant from the Pittsburgh-based Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation to fund the school’s first year of operation, Superintendent Suzan Smith said.

Pending approval of the grant, the school board on Monday assigned 13 high school teachers to the task of developing online courses in social studies, biology, physical science, English and math.

“These would all be required classes,” Smith said.

The teachers have been given eight days in July to develop the curriculum, and the assignment also is effective for the summer of 2015.

“If this can become a reality, it’ll be great for the students,” board member John Manypenny said. “It’ll let students take some of their classes online through the high school, so it would benefit homebound students and students needing to recover course credit.”

Manypenny said the online school, once instituted, also could help increase the graduation rate and reduce the dropout rate.

The first-year funding requested for the Hancock County Online Academy is $120,000, Smith said, noting that the district should know about the grant award by the end of the week.

Also Monday, the school board:

Rescinded a draft agreement with Northern Panhandle Head Start Inc. originally approved on April 7. The agreement would have allowed Head Start to use one of the pre-kindergarten classes at Allison Elementary School in Chester.

Board member Toni Hinerman said she recommended the rescission because the board and the school administration had been given inaccurate information about the agreement.

The agreement originally was passed by a vote of 3-2 with Smith’s recommendation. Head Start’s presence in Hancock County currently includes three centers in Weirton and one at Glendale Church of the Nazarene in Newell.

Learned that teachers from Weirton Heights, Liberty and Broadview Elementary school spent Monday moving into the new Weirton Elementary School and will be given two more days later in the month to finish.

“It is a reality. It’s here,” Smith said Learned that Liberty Elementary School has been named a Reward School by the West Virginia Department of Education for its “high performance and high progress.” To qualify, schools must be in the top 10 percent in reading, language arts and math on the WESTEST and have a 95 percent participation rate.

Heard a presentation from Liberty third-grader Dominic Guiddy, who was one of 13 students in the state to win the Smart 529 WV College Saving Plan Essay contest. His 100-word essay was about wanting to be a robotic engineer when he grows up.

Dominic and the school each won $500. The school’s award was given to his teacher, Nicole Drobish.

Accepted the resignation of Oak Glen High School Assistant Principal David Smith as boy’s head basketball coach.

Renewed a lease agreement with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for the continuing use of a section of Lawrenceville Community Park for an air monitoring tower.

Accepted a bid of $15,000 from West Virginia Signal & Light Inc., of Kenna, W.Va., for the installation of a flashing school zone light at Weirton Elementary School.

Accepted a bid of $26,760 from the National Equipment Co., of Wheeling, for the installation of a freezer at the central kitchen location.

Approved the school meal prices for the 2014-2015 school year, including 5-cent increases for breakfast and elementary, middle and high school lunches.

Approved the board meeting schedule for 2014-2015.

Rescinded a $26,740 bid from Bob Robinson Chevrolet, of Wheeling, for a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado maintenance truck. The truck will not work with the salt spreader the district wants to purchase.

Approved revisions to the promotion/retention/advancement policy, sent the emergency-closing-of-schools policy out for revisions and recommended the additional-minutes-of-instruction policy for a first reading.