Governor Cancels Remainder of School Year

Hardy County Plans Alternative Graduation

During his daily press briefing on Tuesday, April 21, Governor Jim Justice said “we are not going back to school this year.”

Acknowledging the importance of graduation, Justice urged all schools “to find a place to hold graduation.”

Hardy County Schools Superintendent Sheena VanMeter was doing just that.

VanMeter reported to the Hardy County Board of Education during their virtual meeting held Tuesday, April 21. She has been in discussions with both high school principals regarding graduation and prom. “We have to have plans to the state by Friday,” she said.

The plan, at present, is to hold graduation and prom on the same day for each high school. 

“Misty Mountain Event Barn has offered the venue,” VanMeter said. “We could follow graduation with prom. Both proms were scheduled there anyway.”

The dates of July 13 – 16 are being discussed, although board member Jerry Yates said Poultry Week was also scheduled that week. “As long as you don’t schedule it for Thursday, when they have the parade, you should be okay,” he said.

“We will mail diplomas, scholarships, honor cords and cum laude medals ahead of time,” VanMeter said. “We know there will be some people who won’t want to come out. This is not what we wanted, but it’s the best we can do with the situation.”

VanMeter said she would report back to the board when plans are finalized.

Instruction

Board member Dixie Bean expressed concern about the lack of instruction for the last three months of school.

“The students have not received the lessons they need to complete their grade,” she said. “Have teachers communicated about where to start next year?”

VanMeter said every student was mailed packets with lessons to complete while they were out of school.

“It’s certainly not the same as being in a classroom,” she said. “There will be gaps, especially with the elementary students where they are learning the basics.

“But the good news is that some parents are really pushing their kids.”

VanMeter said teachers are working on an instructional catch-up plan and making sure there is good communication between teachers of different grades. “We are in the same boat as everyone else in the country,” she said.

Board Vice President Doug Hines asked about students who were failing before school was cancelled.

“We are not going to fail anyone because of this,” VanMeter assured. “We have been in communication with the students and their parents. The packets that were sent home were an opportunity to get caught up. Teachers will start with the grade the student had during the third nine-weeks. If they complete the packet, they have a chance to improve that grade. They can’t get anything lower than the last nine-week grade.”

Yates said those students who are working ahead will present another type of challenge for teachers next year. “There will be a lot greater disparity between students and where they are within a grade,” he said. 

Board member Dixie Bean said Hardy County might want to look at grouping students by ability rather than by grade level.

2020-21 School Calendar

The board approved the 2020-21 school year calendar. 

School will start for teachers on Monday, Aug. 17 and on Friday, Aug. 21 for students. 

School will be closed from Nov. 25 – 27 for Thanksgiving and from Dec. 23 through Jan. 3, 2021 for the Christmas holiday.

The last day of school for students will be Friday, May 28, 2021 and Thursday, June 3, 2021 for teachers. 

The calendar must be approved by the West Virginia Department of Education.

Other Business

•The board approved the Step 7 budget for 2020-21 to fund personnel, textbooks, instructional materials, contests, vocational expenses and AP training. The personnel are for English Learner and Spanish class teachers.

•The board approved the 2020-21 Food Service budget. The federal contribution is $1,421,880.45. The state contribution is $1,787,043.43. The local contribution is $365,162.95. Finance Director Veeta Burgess said the 2020-21 budget represents a 6 percent increase from this year. 

•The board approved the proposed 2020-21 total budget of $22,552,715. The budget shows a beginning balance, or carryover from the 2019-20 budget of $850,000.

•The next meeting of the Hardy County Board of Education will be held on Monday, May 4, beginning at 5 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Central Office, 510 Ashby St. in Moorefield. The public is invited to attend.