Brooke fills seat on school board

WELLSBURG – Former Brooke County school board member Richard Pannett will fill a seat on the board left vacant by the death of Frank Ujcich until voters can choose a long-term replacement in the Nov. 4 general election.

On Monday the board agreed to appoint Pannett, who served on the board for eight years after working as a teacher and coach in Brooke County Schools for 33 years, following a 40-minute executive session called also to consider the hiring of various personnel.

Board President Jim Piccirillo said the board didn’t actively seek applicants for the seat because the filing period for candidates seeking the seat in November will begin Aug. 4.

Those interested in running for the seat have until 5 p.m. Aug. 19 to declare their candidacy through the county clerk’s office at the Brooke County Courthouse.

To comply with residency conditions for the school board, candidates must be residents of the Wellsburg or Weirton magisterial districts. A $25 filing fee and certificate of announcement are required.

The winner of the election will serve the remainder of Ujcich’s four-year term, which began July 1, and fill the seat soon after the election.

Piccirillo said the board wanted to avoid giving any potential candidate an unfair advantage by appointing that person to the vacant seat in the interim.

He said Pannett, who chose not to seek re-election when his last term ended, indicated he won’t run for the seat in November.

Piccirillo added it seemed best to appoint someone with experience to serve in the three months before the election.

He said in addition to possessing extensive experience and knowledge of the school district, Pannett has a reputation for fairness and honesty.

Piccirillo said the school board received one other application for the seat and it encourages that individual and others to declare their candidacy.

The board also observed a moment of silence for Ujcich, who died on July 16 following a lengthy battle with cancer.

Piccirillo said Ujcich, who also was a vocational instructor and director of the vocational department at Brooke High School for many years, “was a valuable and important educator in the community who will be missed by everyone.”

In other business, the board:

Heard from John Casinelli and Kim Helms, both parents of students involved in the theater program at Brooke High School, who asked about the future of the school’s drama club, which has existed since the school opened in 1969.

Helms asked the board last month about theater courses at the school, following the departure of Nathan Marshall, who had headed the theater program in recent years.

Casinelli encouraged the board to maintain the program, noting many working in movies and television say they got started in high school plays. He noted $1,000 scholarships were awarded to two Brooke students last year in memory of his late daughter Angela, who had been active in the program.

He and Helms were among several parents and students who came to ask about the program.

Superintendent Kathy Kidder-Wilkerson and Valerie Smith, the school district’s curriculum director for grades 6-12, said two teachers have been tapped to teach Theater I and II and Theater Performance courses.

But Kidder-Wilkerson said the drama club advisor position is a voluntary one and will depend on someone’s willingness to fill it. She said it may be filled by someone outside the school district, though first consideration will go to full-time staff members.

The board agreed to post the position.

Heard from Jason Rine, Brooke County West Virginia University Extension agent, who reported that about 32 children participated in the six-week Energy Express summer reading program held at the Follansbee Middle School Field House with the board’s cooperation.

The board applauded the program’s efforts to help youth maintain and improve on their reading skills.

Rine asked the board to consider providing transportation to the children, saying it could help the extension service to add a second site to serve more youth.

Announced it will hold a special meeting at 5 p.m. Wednesday to discuss policies, facilities and personnel. It will be held at the board’s office at 1201 Pleasant Ave.

Approved the hirings of Eric Francis as a special education teacher, Francis and Rich Thomaselli as assistant football coaches, Brian Rea as a Spanish teacher at Follansbee Middle School, Daniel Shorts as assistant boys soccer coach at the high school, Elias Hannaoui as assistant girls soccer coach at the high school, Laura Molter as special education teacher at Hooverson Heights Primary School, Paul Duffy Jr. as seventh grade volleyball coach at Wellsburg Middle School, and many substitute teachers.

It also accepted the resignations of Carla White, a first grade teacher at Hooverson Heights Primary School, effective Nov. 30; Toni Taylor, an eighth grade math teacher at Wellsburg Middle School, effective Oct. 1; and Elaine Marcum, a secretary at Colliers Primary School.