POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education held its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening, which included recognizing local students.
The Mason County Career Center (MCCC) drafting class was recognized during the meeting for their participation in a project with Cabell Midland High School. Stephen Richardson’s students at MCCC helped Steve Martin and the ProStart Program, similar to a culinary program, at Cabell Midland with designing a food truck. The drafting class gave Martin two options on designs. The collaborative project allowed Martin to win the grant money of $32,700, which will be used for the food truck. Martin said when the project is finished, he will bring it to Mason County to show the students and fix them lunch.
Also during the meeting, the board heard about vaping issues in schools, current attendance rates and the budgeting process for the next school year.
Greg Fowler, president of the Family Resource Network (FRN), told the board that there were 15 cases of vaping that came through the teen court in 2019. Fowler said those, along with the nine underage tobacco cases, all came from the school system. Fowler is hoping to do presentations in all schools throughout the next year. Board member Rhonda Tennant asked if vaping education was being covered in the schools. Five high school students that were present during the meeting all said “no.”
The board heard an update on current attendance rates from the attendance director, Melissa Farmer. Farmer said the current attendance rate for Mason County Schools was at 94 percent, which is above the state average. However, Farmer said that 15 percent of the students are chronically absent, meaning those students have missed 10 percent or more of the total number of days enrolled at the school.
Farmer gave definitions of truancy versus chronically absent. Truancy counts only unexcused absences. Chronic absence counts every day the student is not in school. The school year has 180 days. If a student misses 18 days or more or if they miss more than two days per month, they are chronically absent.
Farmer said the principals in schools are working to increase the attendance rate by providing incentives to those who have good records. Farmer also said she and principals are working with students and their parents who are chronically absent to provide help.
Farmer said children who miss more days of school have a decreased chance of becoming proficient in their education.
The board received a report from the treasurer, Gary Hendricks, about the budgeting process for the 2020-21 school year. In his report, Hendricks said there is potential for a small increase to the “excess levy funds” during the next school year. The estimate for those funds is $268,292.
Hendricks said there is a net reduction in state aid that the school system will receive. The reduction from the 2019-20 school year to the 2020-21 year is $861,128. Hendricks estimates that with the increase of excess levy funds, the school system should have a total reduction of $592,836.
Although the treasurer will not know the exact amount of taxes to be received until March, Hendricks said he does not think the budget has looked this good in awhile.
Hendricks referenced the decreased number of students as a reason for the state aid being decreased. He said they are down 139 students from a year ago.
Hendricks’ report states that in 2019-20, the total state revenue and transfer was $25,304,491. The preliminary total state revenue and transfer for 2020-21 is to be $24,443,363.
Mason County Board of Education will have a special LSIC meeting on Jan. 27 at 8:30 a.m. The next regular business meeting will be Jan. 28 at 6 p.m.
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.