Ellenboro, W.Va. – The Monday, Sept. 12, meeting of the Ritchie County Board of Education was full of good and bad news, good byes, and new beginnings.
Superintendent Jim Brown announced his resignation as he will move on to a new position.
He asked “with a heavy heart” that the Board approve his resignation and said, “I contemplated retiring by the end of the school year. I was worried about retiring and going home. All I know is work.”
He signed a contract as West Virginia School Board Association Executive Director a few days before the BOE meeting.
The West Virginia School Board Association was founded in 1952. He will be the fifth director. In his new role, he will work with the Board of Education members of all 55 counties.
Brown concluded, “I think the county is in good hands, and I am proud of the work we have done. It has been great 4-1/2 years for me. I expect great things out of Ritchie County.”
Brown’s resignation is effective Oct. 31 and he will begin his new employment on Nov. 1.
Commenting on his appointment, Brown had said, “I am truly humbled and appreciative of the opportunity to serve as the next Executive Director of the West Virginia School Board Association. I am looking forward to working with each of the 55 county boards of education to continue the mission of advocating for public education in our State and most importantly for the students we all serve.”
He has extensive public education experience, also having served as a county superintendent in Raleigh and McDowell counties. He began his public education career as a teacher and has served as a school principal, a central office administrator and was formerly employed by the West Virginia Department of Education.
Brown has degrees from Marshall University Graduate College and West Liberty State College.
In a recent press release, State School Board Association President Gus Penix said, “Given his experience in public education, and especially what we hope is the state’s apparent re-embrace of the centrality of public schooling, incoming director Jim (Brown) is poised to assist county boards to embrace leadership opportunities which highlight enhanced board member input at the county and state levels. The Association Executive Board – and we know our members – will accept this enhanced role,” said Gus Penix, a member of the Nicholas County Board of Education, who serves as Association President.
The superintendent also announced the departure of Andrea Reed, physician’s assistant, at Ritchie County Middle/High School Wellness Center. She will be replaced by RCHS graduate/valedictorian Lucas Henger.
According to Brown, he has heard nothing but good things about Henger, who worked as a physician’s assistant in Huntington.
Brown said, “He is excited to come back to his roots.” He thanked Reed for her service and wished her the best of luck in her future endeavors.
Superintendent Brown proudly announced the Ritchie County School District made it on top of the 2022’s Most and Least Equitable School Districts in West Virginia.
He thought Doddridge County and other neighboring counties would rank higher than Ritchie County since they are in a better financial situation.
Brown said, “There are lists you do not want to be on top of, but this one is not one of them.”
According to the Superintendent, the high ranking is a reflection of the community.
To determine the ranking, the average family income in each school district is compared to the district’s funding per student. According to the study, Ritchie County has a low average income of $44,328, and a high average expenditure per student of $13,257.
Brown also praised the supporting staff in the school district for their hard work.
He said, “Everyone is doing a phenomenal job. The secretaries are what quarterbacks are in a football team.”
He struggles to make his own breakfast and couldn’t imagine preparing meals for all students like the cooks do every day. He also complimented the custodians and their hard work to ensure the schools look great.
Brown said, “Our schools look phenomenal, and I hope every school in this state looks as great.”
He also proclaimed being excited to see one of the Ritchie County School District employees in the finals for personnel of the year.
While the construction of the Smithville Elementary Wellness Center went smoothly, for the most part, the athletic complex upgrades were more difficult to manage.
Superintendent Brown was not pleased with the work of one of the contractors and criticized them for not having more workers on the job. The company also struggled to bring the right material to the job site.
He said, “I believe the manpower they provided at our work site has been minimal at best.”
Brown informed the Board that the surfacing of the track was delayed. Starting on Oct. 8, the football field will not be accessible for three weeks and force the Rebels to move some of their previous home games.
Ritchie County’s first home game on the new field at Chuck Schofield Memorial Stadium will remain against Doddridge County on Sept. 30.
Ravenswood is the homecoming game on Sept. 30. There is still a slight chance that the Nov. 4 game versus Calhoun County can be played at home.
Brown promised to hold off on moving that game until the last minute possible.
The superintendent expressed his gratitude for everyone’s patience during the entire process, especially Rick Haught. He appreciated that the coach has been very gracious during the whole situation.
In other matters, the Board did the following:
•Approved minutes from regular meeting, Aug. 22; and special meeting, Sept. 6.
•The superintendent gave an update on the Smithville Wellness Center. He is pleased with the progress and looking forward to the grand opening on Oct. 31.
•Approved Policy 4080, Grading Policy and Honor Roll; waived reading and approved Policy 4120, Comprehensive School Counseling Program.
•Approve Upward Bound Salem University bus transportation request, 2022-2023.
•Approve the daily rate of pay for Professional Learning Days outside employee contract to $150.
•Approve in-lieu of transportation requests; nonresident student transfer requests; in-county resident student transfer requests, 2022-2023.
•Approve volunteer commitment agreement applications; volunteer driver commitment agreements, 2022-2023.
•Approved Ashley Davis, West Virginia University, 13 hours of observation for Professional Field Experiences Course 491 at Ritchie County Middle School, Sept. 23-Nov. 18; Haley Martin, West Virginia University Parkersburg, 40 hours of observation for Professional Field Experiences Course 200, Harrisville Elementary, Fall semester; Emma Harper, Carigan Hayes, Conner Shaffer, Roxy Monroe and Jaydon Holt, West Virginia University Parkersburg, 20 hours of observation for Professional Field Experiences Course 100, HES, for Fall semester.
•Approved Policy 7050, Attendance Waiver for Compelling Circumstances (parenthood), Ritchie County High School student, effective 2022-2023 school year.
•Approved Policy 7050, Attendance Waiver for Compelling Circumstances (other), RCHS student, effective 2022-2023.
•Approved bus transportation request for a 13th-year student, RCHS, attending Mid-Ohio Valley Institute.
•Approved Michele Santer to provide contracted services for Occupational Therapy, effective retroactively July 1 through June 30, 2023.
•Approved Ritchie County High School jayvee football schedule.
•Approve RCHS Agriculture Education students, Future Farmers of America (FFA) and 4-H members for out-of-state trip to Ohio Farm Science Review, Sept. 21.
•Approve employee teacher coverage assignment, 2022-2023
•Approve home-bound instructors for the 2022-2023 school year.
•Approve job description for Guidepost to Graduation Work-Based Transition Facilitator Extra-Curricular Assignment; Post Guidepost to Graduation Work-Based Transition Facilitator Extra-Curricular Assignment (Grant Funded Position)
•Resignation: Jeannette Miller, substitute bus operator, effective Sept. 12.
•Employment: Justin Hodges, substitute teacher, countywide, pending meeting all requirements; Carlos Molina, substitute bus operator, countywide, pending meeting all requirements; Angela Trammell, substitute secretary, countywide; Jerry Adams, Plumber II/HVAC II/Custodian III/Groundsman/General Maintenance/Handyman/Truck Driver; Morgan DiPalma, English as a Second Language Teacher, extra-curricular assignment, countywide; Sonya Haught, sports ticket worker extra-curricular assignment, RCMS/HS; Misty Burk, bus operator, Mid-Ohio Valley Institute (as needed) extra-curricular assignment; Susan Kirk, Individualized Education Plan (IEP) Coordinator, extra-curricular assignment, RCHS; Holli Vaughan and Kristin Stewart, after-school teachers for tutoring and enrichment, extra-curricular assignment, Smithville Elementary;; Marie Rowley, Cook II, extra-curricular assignment for the after-school feeding program, SES; all effective Sept. 12.
The next Ritchie County Board of Education meeting is Monday, Sept. 26, 6 p.m., at the BOE office, Harrisville.