POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Board of Education introduced the new superintendent during its regular meeting on Tuesday evening.
Dr. Keith Burdette will be starting as the new Mason County Schools superintendent on July 1. Burdette was a 1978 graduate from Point Pleasant High School. During his senior year, he was the chapter president of the school’s FFA, which was pointed out in a presentation from current Mason County Career Center Chapter President Crimson Cochran.
Burdette is currently the assistant superintendent in Jackson County and has been in that position for eight years. He has been working in the education field for 39 years. Burdette said of those, 18 years were spent in the classroom, 13 were with the West Virginia Department of Education and then the rest were at Jackson County.
Burdette acknowledged Supt. Jack Cullen’s work in the school system and said the transition would be “very smooth.”
Burdette said in the past, he did not think he would want to be a superintendent.
“If you could write your life story, and you had the chance to return in the latter stages of your career and give back to the community where you have your origin, your roots, would you do it?” Burdette asked. He said his answer was yes and felt “led” to apply for the position.
Burdette said he looks forward to meeting all the staff to discuss the future of Mason County Schools.
During the meeting, Stephen Littlepage presented a Claflin Foundation grant to the board for the Mason County Career Center. The grant, which was written by welding teacher Brent Hereford, is for a digital sign at the career center. The check presented to the board was for $29,273.67.
Ray Varian, with the Mason VFW post, presented the VFW Teacher of the Year Award to John Bonecutter, gym teacher at Leon Elementary.
The board entered into executive session to discuss personnel matters. After returning, a motion was made to approve the item for professional probationary contract renewals for next school year.
The board discussed elementary school English Language Arts curriculum and textbooks. Board member Meagan Bonecutter said she was told from some elementary teachers they would rather have different curriculum for kindergarten through second grades and third through fifth grades. Dr. Kenny Bond, curriculum director, said a committee held several meetings and it was decided by the committee and elementary school principals to select the HMH textbooks and Saxon supplemental materials.
During the meeting, Bond gave an update on the Summer School Program. Due to lower than expected enrollment numbers, all students will be transported to Point Pleasant for summer school. Bond said there are 186 elementary students enrolled and will be offered kindergarten through sixth grade classes. For secondary students, Bond said there are 125 enrolled and many will be offered English and math classes. Bond said some of the courses will not be offered due to low enrollment.
In his report to the board, Cullen said the school system needs to hire more bus drivers. Due to the secondary students dismissing school at 3:45 p.m., many bus drivers can not make it back from the routes to pick up students for athletic events, therefore, some games have been canceled.
Cullen said the state approved the 2021-2022 school calendar. As of now, students will return to the classroom for five days per week and there will likely be only one bus run each day.
The board scheduled a special student expulsion meeting for May 11 at 3 p.m.
The next regular business meeting for the Mason County Board of Education is scheduled for May 11 at 6 p.m.
During the meeting, all board members, including Dale Shobe, Rhonda Tennant, Jared Billings, Meagan Bonecutter and Ashley Cossin, were in attendance.
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Kayla (Hawthorne) Dunham is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, ext. 1992.