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 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 other school superintendents in the Northern Panhandle.
He said pay scales for the county's professional personnel, such as principals and teachers, rank 20th in the state and pay scales for service personnel, such as secretaries, custodians and bus drivers, rank 25th in the state.
"With this contract we believe 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.
"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," Piccirillo said.
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. 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 buildings and the middle schools to be replaced with one building, possibly near Brooke High School.
Kidder thanked the board for its vote of confidence and the raise in salary.
In other business:
Assistant Superintendent Marty Bartz said a power outage affecting school lunches Friday has prompted him and others to establish a backup plan for such instances. Tom Davidson, 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, county 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 cancellations, 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's home, if school dismisses early.
Dolly Kidd, reading specialist, asked the board to consider hiring a company to categorize books at school libraries according to 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.
The board approved the hiring of Penny J. Frohnapfel as executive secretary for the board's payroll department; Megan Harless as a faculty manager at Follansbee Middle School; Robert Ross. custodian at Follansbee Middle; Christopher Pugh, assistant football coach at Brooke High School; Kaylea Dulaney, swim coach at the high school; Bethany Henderson, substitute bus driver; Frank Nelson, Samuel Pellegrino, James Burns and Domenic Provenzano, substitute bus drivers, pending their training and certification; and Kay Yaussy, substitute aide.
The board approved a transfer for Brittany Nieman from fifth-grade teacher at Follansbee Middle to third-grade teacher at Wellsburg Primary School.