Preston BOE sets meetings to provide, hear info on proposed school closings

KINGWOOD — Informational meetings in regard to the proposed closure of Fellowsville and Rowlesburg schools have been set by the Preston County Board of Education.
These meetings are not  public hearings — those are scheduled to begin  later this month — but are informal meetings to allow the board’s central office staff to gather information from the public and for the public to receive information on what is being recommended and why.
Board members may attend, but will not be fielding questions or deliberating toward a decision. Meetings are being held in each of the communities potentially impacted by the closing, Superintendent Steve Wotring said at Monday’s board meeting.
All meetings will begin at 6 p.m. They will be held: Oct. 15 at South Preston; Oct. 16 at Fellowsville Elementary; Oct. 17, Rowlesburg School; Oct. 18, Terra Alta/East Preston; and Oct. 23, Central Preston Middle School.
Board Member Bob Ridenour asked Wotring when he will have figures on possible savings other than those obtained by closing schools? Wotring said by the next board meeting.
Monday’s BOE meeting was held at Terra Alta, and Local School Improvement Councils from Terra Alta/East Preston and Aurora School made their annual presentations to the board.
Aurora’s LSIC said its vision for the school year is growth, academically for students, professionally for staff and in its connections with the community. Principal Debbie Hibbs talked about the school’s work to expand math and reading instruction, and the drama teacher talked about successes  with her class, which is a recent addition at Aurora.
Teacher and Aurora LSIC Chairman Krista Harsh  urged the board to use more of the $100,000 state Education Program Allowance funds — also called schools of isolation funding — for student programs and to help obtain certified teachers for the school.
In May, the board voted to use $5,000 of the money for water testing and the Born Learners program, and $10,000 for a movable divider in the gym/cafeteria. The rest is used for utilities, maintenance and other school expenses.
Harsh said  former Superintendent Larry Parsons allowed them to use the money for two salaries. Wotring said at that time the county had a levy to help pay other expenses.
Terra Alta/East Preston teacher Samantha Funk’s FFA students put on a mock meeting, using parliamentary procedure. They won the state contest and will compete in the national contest at Indianapolis later this month.
TA/EP Principal Justin Hough, Dean of Students Jim Davis and School Improvement Specialist Lori Baker explained initiatives being taken to improve student achievement at the school.
Also at the meeting, Mel Snyder and Bob Meissner, of the Kingwood Rotary, told the board  about the club’s annual donation of dictionaries to county students and presented board members with dictionaries.