BOE discuss concerns on welding program
by Nathan Jeffers
POINT PLEASANT — At Tuesday’s meeting of the Mason County Board of Education, board members discussed several concerns surrounding the welding program and the possibility of beginning an Industrial Equipment Maintenance program at the Mason County Career Center.
Student Anthony Linger spoke to the members of the board regarding his concerns on the posting for a Welding and Industrial Maintenance Teacher, stating he felt there should be a separate full time welding teacher. Linger continued, saying if there is only teacher for both areas the teacher would have to split their time between the programs and it would take away from the already thriving welding program and the opportunities for welding students in the future.
Director of Vocational Education and Maintenance Ruth Caplinger addressed these concerns with the board, stating she looked into starting an Industrial Equipment Maintenance program and whether there would be enough interest among the students for such a program. Caplinger also said she had been approached by several representatives from area plants and facilities asking if this program was offered at the career center and stating there would be several career opportunities in the future for the graduates if there was such a program.
Caplinger continued, stating there were currently 30 welding students and nine students interested in Industrial Equipment Maintenance. Caplinger also described the reasoning behind posting the position as a Welding and Industrial Equipment Maintenance teacher, stating the qualifications for both programs are the same, since students in Industrial Equipment Maintenance are also required to take a welding course.
Caplinger was also adamant that posting the position as a teacher for both programs would not take away any of the current welding courses or opportunities for welding students. In the beginning stages of the Industrial Equipment Maintenance program, Caplinger explained there would only be one course offered for that program as a way to gauge if there is enough interest to expand the program in the future. Caplinger added that if interest in the program does grow, then a separate position to teach the program will be sought.
Also speaking to the board was John Lehew, Special Education Director for Mason County Schools. Lehew spoke on preschools, special education, and alternative education, updating the board on WESTEST scores for special education students and how they compared to previous test scores and scores for other counties in the state of West Virginia. Lehew also discussed the number of students enrolled in preschool and how they compared to the number of students enrolled in kindergarten. Lehew stated there are 301 preschoolers this year which is increasing from the numbers in the past and nearly equal to the number of kindergartners.
Pat Park, Federal Programs Director, also spoke to the board regarding Title I and other programs and how they were affected by No Child Left Behind, as well as dicussing other changes in the programs.
In addition to Superintendent Suzanne Dickens, board members present were Thomas Nunnery, Randy Searls, Greg Fowler, Paul Sayre, and Dale Shobe.
The Mason County Board of Education will meet again for a Regular Business Meeting at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 11, at the Mason County Career Center.
(Note: More on the approved agenda and personnel items from this meeting will appear in a later edition.)
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