Brooke schools’ spring break reduced

WELLSBURG — The spring break planned for Brooke County schools has been reduced to the Friday before Easter weekend to make up for snow days.

Superintendent of Schools Toni Paesano Shute said students were to be off on March 29 and April 2-4 but those days will be used to make up for the canceled school days.

With no more make-up days left in the school calendar, any future cancellations will have to be made up by extending the school year beyond its current May 24 end date, she said.

Rob Robinson, facilities director, said the only alternative to extending the school year offered by the state is to add 30 minutes to school days to make up for the lost instructional time.

Shute confirmed that would create some headaches because it would affect bus routes and extracurricular activities.

She said at least one year state school officials waived some lost instructional time when students were provided “snow packs” containing assignments to be done on days when cancellation was expected. But she said that’s no longer the case.

Shute said many teachers have taken advantage of the computer tablets provided to some pupils this year by downloading onto them assignments for them to do at home. But the work doesn’t qualify for a waiver for lost school days, she said.

The issue arose after Daniell Diserio, a parent, asked if the apparent difficulty of state road crews in clearing secondary roads could qualify school districts for such a waiver.

Shute said she and other superintendents could suggest the move at an upcoming state conference in Charleston but she’s not optimistic that it will be approved.

For many years West Virginia school districts were required to make up for canceled school days but the school year couldn’t be extended beyond June 8. In more recent years, however, state legislators have mandated all instructional time lost due to cancellations and delays be made up even if it means extending the school year beyond that date. That resulted in the school year for Brooke County and other districts ending in mid-June in 2015.

As a Brooke County magistrate, Diserio advised the board fines in the school district’s student handbook for tobacco use on school property are below those in the current state code.

She said the state’s fines are $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second and $200 for the third, with court costs assessed to offenders, and anyone convicted of a misdemeanor, $165.25.

Diserio said the handbook is correct about community service required for the offenders, which is eight hours for the first offense, 16 hours, second; and 24, third.

Shute said it appears the fines haven’t been updated with current laws and will be changed to reflect them.

Also on Tuesday, the board approved hiring principals for the Brooke County elementary schools that will be reconfigured for the 2018-19 school year.

Citing declining enrollment, the board plans to close L.B. Millsop, Colliers and Beech Bottom primary schools and send pupils in kindergarten through second grade living in the county’s north half to Hooverson Heights Primary School, to be renamed Brooke Primary North, and those in third and fourth grades to Jefferson Primary School, to be renamed Brooke Intermediate North.

Children in the south half in grades kindergarten through second will attend Wellsburg Primary School, to be renamed Brooke Primary South; and those in third and fourth grades will attend Franklin Primary School, to be renamed Brooke Intermediate South.

Stephanie Zimmer, Nadine Sweda and Scott Donohew will continue to serve as principals for the schools currently known as Wellsburg, Jefferson and Franklin primary schools.

Heading Brooke Primary North will be Jo-Ellen Connolly, who is currently principal of Colliers Primary School.

The board also hired Michaelene Mills, currently principal of Beech Bottom Primary, to divide her time as assistant principal of Brooke Primary North and South; and Amanda Vice to divide her time as assistant principal of Brooke Intermediate North and South.

The board also approved the hiring of Melanie Nixon and Megan Dunaway as speech pathologists; Lynette Martin, language arts at new middle school; and Joyce Morgan, secretary for transportation department.

It accepted resignations from Mary Schwertfeger, who is retiring from chairing and teaching in the high school’s business education department; Regina Van Camp, secretary, Wellsburg Primary School; and Griffin Yocum, physical education and health teacher, Follansbee Middle School.

In other business:

• Robinson said some residents have asked why chemical storage cabinets made by Eagle Manufacturing of Wellsburg weren’t ordered for the new middle school’s science labs. He said the cabinets were purchased by contractors involved with the school’s construction, not the board itself, from a vendor who submitted the lowest bid.

“We have a great relationship with Eagle. It was just through part of the bid • The board approved the $25,532 purchase of a 2017 Ford Transit van and 2015 Ford Escape from Allietta Ford of Wellsburg that reflects the value of a 2008 Ford Econoline van and 2016 Fort Transit van to be traded in.

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