Former bus driver may file grievance

At the Lewis County Board of Education meeting on Monday, former employee Rick Smith and his wife, Renee, addressed board members regarding trouble with his retirement process, citing that he intends to file a grievance against the school board.
Smith said he was told by his doctor in April he would have to stop driving a school bus because of health issues. Smith worked for Lewis County Schools for 22 years.
Smith was told by the Lewis County Schools and the West Virginia Department of Education what he needed to do to retire. According to the Smiths, the Lewis County BOE approved his retirement on Aug. 28.
In September, Smith said he was told they no longer had insurance. They spoke with the school finance office and, Smith said, was told that was “their problem” as he was no longer an employee of the school system.
The Smiths called Public Employees Insurance Association (PEIA) and was told they needed information from the Lewis County Board of Education.
Smith said PEIA and the state have told them that “it all comes back to LC Schools.”
Smith added that they traveled to Charleston three times to ensure paperwork was filled out correctly and now they are told they didn’t do it right.
An executive session was held regarding Finance Director Monika Weldon’s employment grade. After approximately 30 minutes where board members met with their attorney, all members approved re-categorizing Weldon as BA plus 15 and three years of work experience within supplemental pay retroactive to employment date.
In other news, Supervisor Grace Tallhammer presented the county’s strategic plan, which is a blending of the county’s policy with the state’s policy.
Three goals are to be met in the plan, which are academics, attendance, culture and climate.
Tallhammer said the goal this year is to increase student achievement by seven percent prior to the end of the 2017-18 school year and meeting state standards by 2020. Achievement is measured through iReady testing for K-8 grades, and WVDE benchmarks for grades nine through 12.
Attendance is the next goal, and schools are working to increase the attendance rate to 95 percent for the current school year. Currently the attendance rate is at 94.8 percent.
Culture and Climate focuses on creating a positive atmosphere that supports students and staff. Tallhammer highlighted the proposed state policy 2510, which states, “Programs serving students enrolled in Early Learning Readiness grades (PK-5) help students establish positive dispositions to learning…”
She hopes this will foster a student’s commitment to education when first beginning school.
Supervisor Carol Williams told board members about a grant they awaiting approval for which concerns mental health in elementary schools. Williams said the grant provides training for teachers, among other things, and will be shared with two other counties, if awarded.
Approved policies included School Attendance-Early Out Exemption to Full Day Attendance, BOE Meetings and Operations and Procedures, and Professional Personnel Evaluation. Transportation and Student Transfer Request Procedures moved on to second readings.
The next LC BOE meeting will be Dec. 27, at 6 p.m., at the board office.

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