POINT PLEASANT — At Thursday night’s meeting of the Mason County Board of Education, board members approved the USDA Community Eligibility Option which allows eight out of 10 county schools to offer free lunch to all students.
Through this program, numerous schools across the country have been able to make the same decision concerning free meals. Gary Hendricks, CSBO for Mason County Schools, spoke to the board regarding this program, stating West Virginia is the fourth state to be involved and once the county is involved, it will be guaranteed for at least four years.
It was reported this program is an alternative for applications for free or reduced lunches in high poverty local educational agencies and schools. In order to be eligible, the agencies or schools must meet a minimum level of students who already qualify for free meals. The level of students must be at least 40 percent.
The two Mason County schools that did not qualify for this program were Wahama High School and Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School. Superintendent Suzanne Dickens stated the Board of Education may be able to offer free lunch to these other two schools sometime in the future. Dickens also stated free breakfast will still be offered in every school, as it was this past school year. Dickens said the breakfast program was successful this year and they plan to continue with it.
There was also a discussion at the meeting about being able to offer students at Wahama and Point reduced lunch, which Hendricks stated was $0.40, but no action regarding that decision was taken yet. More on the details of this program and school lunches in Mason County will be reported as information becomes available.
Also at the meeting, Special Education Director John Lehew presented the board with a Discipline Report for the past school year. Among the report, Lehew stated in the seven elementary schools there were 303 instances that lead to out of school suspensions, for a total of 810 days. In the three high schools, there were 832 instances that resulted in out of school suspensions, for a total of 2094 days. Lehew also discussed the amount of expulsions, stating there were two expulsions of elementary school students, compared to zero in the previous year. As far as high school expulsions, there were 11 expulsions of students, compared to 25 the previous year.
Also during the meeting, board members approved a motion to extend Dickens contract as superintendent for two more years. The contract, originally ending in 2013, was extended until 2015. It was also reported the extension of Dickens contract was merely that, an extension on the same terms she currently has and with no increase in salary.
This was also the last board meeting for the 2011-12 school year, and come July 1, there will be two new board of education members. Leaving the board will be members Michael Cottrill and Matthew Thompson. Thompson previously served on the board for eight years and then again for the last four months. Cottrill has served on the board for 10 years. There were many kind words exchanged between the members, acknowledging the two members leaving and encouraging the members who are continuing.
“Being a board member is a service to your community,” Thompson said. He continued, encouraging those members remaining on the board to continue to make decisions with the children of Mason County in mind. New board members stepping in on July 1 will be Greg Fowler and Paul Sayre.
In addition to Superintendent Dickens, board members present were Michael Cottrill, Thomas Nunnery, Randy Searls, Dale Shobe, and Matthew Thompson.
The Mason County Board of Education will meet again for a special organizational meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 2, 2012, at the Mason County Career Center. This will be the first meeting of the new fiscal year and will comprise of electing a new president and vice-president of the board, as well as other business to prepare for the upcoming school year.
(Note: Another report containing the approved agenda items from this meeting will appear in Tuesday’s edition.)