Brooke Board of Education re-organizes central office

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Board of Education listened to concerns regarding the re-organization of the central office.

At Monday’s meeting, the board accepted Interim Superintendent Jeffrey Crook’s recommendation, by a 3-2 vote, for personnel changes with the termination by reduction in force, and for the transfer with the elimination of current contracts by a 4-1 vote.

Earlier in the meeting, Brooke High School English teacher Brandy Mazzella was among those addressing the board.

“I bleed green and gold, but I have watched as this county has dangled opportunity while stealing the health and hope of my friends,” said Mazzella.

However, Mazzella added that in recent months she felt herself regain her enthusiasm for her school thanks to Crook.

“Dr. Crook and Mr. Murphy have taken the time to listen, which is often all we really want from our leaders,” said Mazzella.

Mazzella said she cannot give a just voice to those affected by the re-organization, but said she trusts the board and Crook.

“We must trust that whoever takes the reins understands the gravity of the leadership positions in Brooke County,” she said.

Other speakers said they are not as trusting of those who hold the education leadership roles within the county.

Shelly Och, payroll supervisor and benefits coordinator in the central office, said she has a different experience with Crook.

“Brandy has had some great contact with Dr. Crook,” said Och. “Some of the contact in our office has not been so pleasant but that does not mean it will always be that way. Our office is right across the hall from his but not once has he came and said, ‘hello.'”

Och went on to say Brooke County suffers today from hurt and anger and, that as a result, the people of the county want an outlet.

“First it was the former superintendent, now it’s the directors,” said Och. “Why? They are the recipients of a salary increase recommended by the superintendent and approved by the board.”

Och believes a false narrative is being pushed by the board and social media.

“The factual narrative is that all Brooke County employees have been underpaid and salaries are being adjusted,” said Och. “Brooke County wants to attract and retain the best staff for students.”

Och said the re-organization is not “for the kids,” a statement that Och fears is a catchphrase to win political favor for a misrepresented narrative.

“This plan will result in a lack of knowledge and continuity that will cause an exodus of quality directors, educators and personnel from Brooke County,” she said. “This will not be for the kids.”

Och noted that in Hancock, Ohio and Marshall County there are two employees performing the payroll and employee benefits responsibilities that she takes on.

Board Member Antoinette Perkins said she is concerned the re-organizing plan will give one individual too much of a workload by eliminating too many positions.

Crook said the right people will be able to handle the responsibility.

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