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Brooke County school board turns to Internet to advertise its programs

OUTSTANDING WRESTLER — On Monday the Brooke County Board of Education recognized Braydon DeMaria, a Brooke High School wrestler who placed first in his division in the regional championship, following a 10-3 record in the regular season; and placed fifth in his division at the state wrestling tournament. With DeMaria are Jeffrey Crook, left, superintendent of Brooke County Schools; and Doug Sizemore, DeMaria’s coach. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — The Brooke County Board of Education has agreed to use an app and other Internet-based technology to advertise its schools and programs.

On Monday, the board approved a one-year contract with Mobility 360 calling for the Weirton business to establish an app through which school officials may communicate to parents and others, redesign the school district’s website, create an overall brand for the district and other measures to raise awareness of its schools’ offerings and accomplishments.

The contract involves the board paying $8,500 for setup costs and $3,000 per month afterward.

Superintendent Jeffrey Crook said the branding will involve streamlining the public image of the district, noting many of the schools currently employ divergent letterheads, without abandoning symbols long associated with it.

Crook said since coming to the school district, he’s learned “you don’t touch the B” found on football helmets and at the center of the football field.

“And you don’t mess with the old Bruin,” he said, referring to the high school’s bear mascot.

Brooke school officials, past and present, have cited declining enrollment as the reason for the closings of school buildings and cuts to staff not funded by the state.

Crook said he hopes the measures will help the district to retain and attract new students as it prepares to face the new challenge of charter schools.

“We don’t want to be outdone by anyone, and I think we have a lot to offer,” he said, adding Brooke County Schools offer career technical and advanced placement courses and a pre-school program not found everywhere.

Board member Chris Byers said he’s aware of private businesses employing an app but not public schools.

He asked how the board will know the return on its investment.

Crook said, “We will maintain or gain on enrollment. That’s the return.”

Jake Young, president of Mobility 360, said parents considering moving into a school district often turn to the Internet for information, including reviews posted by people living there.

Young said he will track the online reviews and report on changes in their tenor.

Crook said since the board has emerged from the state’s financial watch list and students are returning to five days of classroom teaching after the pandemic forced them to receive virtual instruction, he’s felt a more positive vibe in the district.

“We want to be able to put the negativity behind us and focus on the positive,” he said.

In other business, the board:

– Recognized Brayden DeMaria, a senior Brooke High School wrestler who placed first in his division in the regional championship, following a 10-3 record in the regular season; and placed fifth in his division at the state wrestling tournament.

Joining the board in recognizing DeMaria was his coach, Doug Sizemore, who said through his hard work, the teen has set an excellent example for his younger teammates.

Currently involved with the school’s track team, DeMaria also has served as the school’s Bruin mascot and raised funds to replace its aging costume.

– Approved the $148,828 purchase, using state funds, of an English textbook and online curriculum from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

– Approved the purchase of custodial supplies for the next school year in the following amounts: $20,611 from American Sanitary Supply; $5,695 from DH Bertenthal and Sons; $4,467 from Cardello Electric; and $11,004 from Justin Products.

– Announced a special meeting will be held at 5 p.m. May 17 at the board’s office to discuss the budget for the 2021-22 school year.

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