Topics presented for discussion during board employees’ and citizens’ input at monthly meetings of the Mingo County Board pf Education offer little variety these days.
Heading the topics are complaints stemming from the impending loss of four high schools when consolidation takes place with the new Mingo County Central High School in August. Williamson, Burch of Îelbarton, Matewan and Gilbert high schools will be closed.
The board meeting held Tuesday lasted three hours but Board President Charles S. West appeared to welcome all the comments and added a few of his own. He said things are wrong when children are affected, as they will be with the loss of their own school when consolidation takes place. “My heart bleeds for these children,” he said.
Vice President Jacqueline Branch has expressed her feelings for the children who will have their school closed this year and they will suffer the loss of what is familiar and dear to them.
“I feel awful that our hands are tied, but nobody is going to listen to us,” said Branch. She also wants a school bus provided to transport students who transfer to Tug Valley High School. There is a question about whether students can transfer from Willliamson to Tug Valley rather than enroll in Mingo Central.
Board members William D. Duty, Michael Carter and Stephen Marcum also offered comments about the situation. Carter also asked if the board will receive any financial assistance to help in reducing energy costs of operating county schools.
West and Branch offered other comments about the situation in which the board finds itself –elected to office by the voters of the county but without power to act on behalf of the school children and citiizens of the county.
West pointed out at the March meeting that Mingo is not receiving fair treatment as other counties. He noted that in Lincoln County, school uses transport children to Chapmanville on one end and to Harts on the other. “I guess something must be wrong because we can’t get that kind of treatment for our children.”
West has said that the Mingo board needs some help out of Charleston. “We need our system back. We need control back. The state has failed miserably. It’s time to give your voters a voice.”
As usual at its meetings, the Mingo board can only approve minor items, such as roll call and approving students’ educational trips. Other items, such as personnel schedules, finance, etc., can only be reviewed by the local board.i
Citizens making inputs at this week’s meeting included Donnie Edwards, Debbie and Steve White, Cecilia Staten and Teresa Maynard.
Maynard, who is assistant prosecuting attorney of Mingo County, expressed her dissatifaction over action in Washington that cut funding for the Title I program which is used in many of the nations’s schools, including Lenore K-8 and five other Mingo County schools. Ms. Maynard’s son attends the Lenore school.
She said there will still be Title I money available but not enough to go around to all the schools that use the program. “ I hope they can find funds to continue this program.” She added that the program is losing teachers and libraries because of the cut in funds at the national level.
Edwards expressed concern about whether the Mingo County Career School can continue its vo-tech program. Debbie White expressed her concerns about the extra mileage her child will have to travel to reach Mingo Central School. She lives at Chattaroy, 12 miles from Tug Valley High. If her child is required to go to the new high school, he will be compelled to travel 30 miles. Steve White added his concern about the safety of the travel from Chattaroy to the new school.
Cecilia Staten of Williamson spoke of her wish that a bus will be provided for students transferring to Tug Valley High.It has been noted that such students also will be ineligible to participate in Tug Valley sports.
The board reviewed the monthly financial report provided as of March 31, 2011, and reviewed the personnel schedule.