WELLSBURG - The Brooke County Board of Education on Monday unanimously agreed to renew the contract of Superintendent Kathy Kidder and grant her a raise.
The board approved a four-year contract for Kidder that calls for her to receive a salary of $110,000 for her first year and a 2 percent raise for each of the following three years.
Board President Jim Piccirillo said Kidder's current salary of $98,000 ranks 41st among the state's 55 county school superintendents and is less than the salaries of the other school superintendents in the Northern Panhandle.
He said pay scales for the county's professional personnel, such as principals and teachers, and service personnel, such as secretaries, custodians and bus drivers, rank 20th and 25th in the state.
"With this contract we believe Dr. Kidder will be able to move by the end of her term into the top 30th in our state," Piccirillo said.
He noted Kidder's current three-year contract was set to expire on June 30.
Piccirillo said, "Dr. Kidder has served Brooke County well throughout her career as educator, director and superintendent. Under her leadership and in difficult economic times, we have managed our finances well and reduced staff without undertaking any reduction in force."
In recent years the board has seen a large number of staff members retire and in light of the school district's declining enrollment, has chosen not to replace many of them.
Piccirillo said Kidder also "has administered discipline to both employees and students in a fair, consistent and prompt fashion. Dr. Kidder has helped restore confidence in our school system and has required accountability so our employees can strive to meet the high expectations held by the public and the board."
Piccirillo said that doesn't mean difficult situations haven't arisen, but he said Kidder has handled such occasions well. He said Kidder will lead the board through a transitional period in which it seeks renewal next year of its current operating levy and adopts the recommendations of its comprehensive educational facilities plan.
Developed by McKinley and Associates of Wheeling and a committee of staff and community members, the plan calls for the county's primary schools to be replaced with two and the middle schools to be replaced with one, possibly near Brooke High School.
Piccirillo said, "The board of education is unanimous in its decision, and Dr. Kidder has our full confidence and support." He asked the staff and community to support her also.
Kidder thanked the board for its vote of confidence and the raise in salary.
She told the board members, "I really am looking forward to working with all of you for the next four years."
In other business:
Assistant Superintendent Marty Bartz said a power outage which affected school lunches Friday has prompted him and others to establish a backup plan for such instances.
Tom Davidson, the school district's nutrition director, said the outage left Brooke High School and Franklin Primary School and their kitchens without power.
The high school kitchen supplies lunches for all of the county's schools except Franklin and Colliers primary schools.
Bartz said if a power outage occurs in the future, Bob Fowler, the county's emergency management director, has agreed to provide a generator and the high school's kitchen will be rewired to accommodate it.
He added the automated calling system used by the school district to alert parents of cancelations, delays and early dismissals didn't reach everyone, and he's working to correct that.
Piccirillo said as winter approaches, parents should talk to their children, especially younger ones, about what arrangements have been made, such as being bused to a grandparent, if their school dismisses them early.
Dolly Kidd, the school district's reading specialist, asked the board to consider hiring a company to categorize books at school libraries according to their reading levels. Kidd said the move would help teachers to assign reading that matches their students' abilities and presented letters of support from some principals and school librarians.
Kidder said at Kidd's request, she will suggest the board hire the company using a portion of funds from the lease of school property for natural gas drilling. The board has received a $661,955 signing fee for the lease of up to 189 acres, though no drilling has been done yet.
The board is expected to consider the request at its next meeting, which will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 14 at its office at 1201 Pleasant Ave. The board normally meets on the second and fourth Monday of each month, but this month's second meeting would have fallen on Christmas Eve.
Approved the hiring of Penny J. Frohnapfel as executive secretary for the board's payroll department; Megan Harless as a faculty manager, a position similar to athletic director, at Follansbee Middle School; Robert Ross as a custodian at Follansbee Middle School, Christopher Pugh as an assistant football coach at Brooke High School; Kaylea Dulaney as a swim coach at the high school; Bethany Henderson as a substitute bus driver; Frank Nelson, Samuel Pellegrino, James Burns and Domenic Provenzano as substitute bus drivers, pending their training and certification; and Kay Yaussy as a substitute aide.
It also approved a transfer for Brittany Nieman, from fifth-grade teacher at Follansbee Middle School to third-grade teacher at Wellsburg Primary School.
(Scott can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)