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Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV 

Citing declining enrollment, and increasing reliance on that enrollment rather than the state Legislature for funding, plus competition for students from West Virginia and Marshall universities, a report recommends merging the governing boards of Bluefield State College, Concord University, Glenville State College and West Virginia State University.

The document, from the Colorado-based nonprofit National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, labels those four schools “Medium Risk to High Risk” in sustainability, saying they’re “sustainable in the short-term, but their futures are uncertain.”

The REPORT recommends this move, in the short-term for Bluefield and Concord and in the long-term for Glenville and WVSU, and suggests “initially” retaining the separate boards of governors for Fairmont State, Shepherd and West Liberty universities, “but with additional powers regarding governance of institutions explicitly delegated” to the state Higher Education Policy Commission.

The recommendations include “leaving open” that Concord and Bluefield “could become a single accredited institution” and “the potential of including New River Community and Technical College within the new structure while retaining its unique mission as a community college.”

The report, which includes several other recommendations, also lists negative effects of the state government’s decisions to separate community colleges from public 4-year schools, weaken the power of the HEPC, decentralize governance and cut higher education funding.

And at a time when the presidents of WVU, Marshall and Concord are to co-chair Gov. Jim Justice’s newly formed group to study the funding and sustainability of higher education (the HEPC was already studying a possible funding formula), the report notes that a “major obstacle to collaboration with West Virginia University or Marshall University is a fear that the larger institutions will collaborate only out of their self-interest to stifle competition or ultimately take over the smaller institutions.”

“With West Virginia University admitting more than 35 percent of high school graduates in 22 counties, it seems improbable that all these students would have been the top-performing students in their counties,” the report states. “The more selective institutions are dipping deeper into their applicant pools to the detriment of the regional institutions. ... In the absence of some external forces, this predation will continue.”

“We have not previously seen the report, so we can’t react in detail,” WVU Communications Office Senior Executive Director John Bolt said after being sent the report late Tuesday afternoon. “Nevertheless, I can say without equivocation that West Virginia University is not predatory.”

“It is not appropriate to comment until I have had an opportunity to read and thoroughly review the report,” said Bluefield President Marsha Krotseng, to whom the Gazette-Mail also sent the report late Tuesday.

In a statement, Concord President Kendra Boggess suggested that the data in the report are accurate, but said a Bluefield/Concord consolidation is “only one potential option that should be considered.”

The report says that, “in the longer-term, as suggested by the Consolidated Financial Index, all the regional institutions are at risk of failure. However, that risk varies significantly.”

The report defines “regional institutions” as all public four-year schools but WVU, Marshall, their branch campuses and the School of Osteopathic Medicine, in Lewisburg.

“NCHEMS’ observation is that for the institutions at highest risk, Bluefield State College and Concord University, the challenges are so serious that only a major restructuring will preserve postsecondary education opportunity for students in Southern West Virginia,” the report states. “Implementing this restructuring will require external pressure, leadership, and on-going facilitation to mandate and implement a consolidation of academic, student and administrative capacity of the two institutions.

“Nevertheless, forces at both institutions continue to resist needed changes,” the report states. “Bluefield State College continues to pursue construction of a residence hall, with partial support from a local foundation, with hopes that this will enable the institution to recruit and retain more students. This while Concord has empty dormitory space.”

The report goes on to state that, “Without immediate action to mandate that these two institutions pursue an integrated approach to their future, each institution will continue on its downward trajectory.”

The report, dated April 3, is labeled draft and was obtained from the HEPC by the Gazette-Mail through an open records request.

Neither NCHEMS Vice President Brian Prescott nor HEPC Communications Director Shelli Dronsfield said they’re anticipating any changes to the report. Dronsfield said it hasn’t been released because the HEPC staff is still developing an executive summary and response to the report, planned to be presented alongside the report to the HEPC board in August.

~~  Ryan Quinn ~~


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(6) Comments

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~~~ Readers' Comments ~~~

This information including details in the referenced full Report helps put GSC’s precarious standing in perspective. More information can be accessed at http://www.collegesimply.com.

That web site provides SAT student information for WV institutions of higher learning and GSC has the lowest scores.

Inferences from the scores and material in the report are that because GSC gets a large percentage of students from poor counties including Gilmer County, school systems there need improving.

Also, with employers becoming more sophisticated in hiring the best qualified graduates they access information of the type published on the web site given above.

The reason is that institutions with the best prepared students have more rigorous academic programs and they do not have to expend valuable time on remediation.

Provision of this comment is not intended to be a slam at GSC. The purpose is to encourage Dr. Pellett and the Board of Governors to devise a viable strategy for making the College a center of excellence to improve its standing in WV. It is that simple for guaranteed survival in the future.

By GSC GRAD  on  07.05.2018

Bigger is better? Rarely.

Everyone knows that school consolidation has resulted in failed outcomes.

This is laying the ground work, for an ego driven power grab.  The big institutions have no limit to their desire for money.

Stay small, and if failure occurs, fewer people are impacted.  Too large, and management of that soon turns into a problem.

By Its just planned failure.  on  07.05.2018

Advice for GSC’s president is to read Janis’book entitled Victims of Group Think.

The theme for the book is that alike thinkers of a group of elites in control can have colossal failures because they believe that their decision-making processes are unworthy of outside scrutiny.

Think about it. Did the airport to accommodate jet traffic at the mouth of Cedar Creek work out and did the federal prison result in economic prosperity with a hefty upsurge with GSC’s
enrollment?

What about the millions of dollars of new construction at GSC? Did it result in healthy enrollments as promised.

Some elites associated with GSC were strong advocates for the ill fated ventures.

GSC has been controlled too long by members of the same families. With the undeniable track record of declining conditions a few resignations would be a positive step.

The nagging governance problem affecting GSC has been shielding elite individuals from personal accountability without penalties for bad decisions.

By Governance Changes Needed At GSC  on  07.06.2018

“Governance Changes Needed at GSC” is 100% correct.

Basically GSC Board of Governors and other leadership positions, have been a result of nepotism and crony friend choices.

Those two ‘tools’ rarely, if ever, give the best persons available to whatever the position requires.

Incest often produces less than desired outcomes as well.

By PAST Time for change @ GSC  on  07.08.2018

There are two examples in Janis’ book regarding the Kennedy presidency. The first one deals with the group think Bay Of Figs disaster.

Those in Washington associated with invasion decisions considered themselves to be infallible world class thinkers. That mistake prevented critical and constructive review from anyone outside that tight group of political operatives.

The other example covers the Cuban Missile Crisis as an example of masterful diplomacy and planning to prevent a nuclear holocaust. President Kennedy deserved credit because he avoided group think traps from Bay Of Pigs lessons learned.

Higher education decisions in WV are made by individual tight knit Boards of Governors with excessive autonomy and no meaningful oversight.

Also, board members are there through political appointments at local levels. Governors traditionally rubber stamp the recommended appointments.

When serious group think mistakes occur at colleges and universities Boards are conditioned to assume that State bail outs will cover damages.

If private businesses are group think practitioners they never last unless they change strategies to avoid brutal market place penalties.

By WVU Political Scientist  on  07.08.2018

Oops! Bay of Pigs not Figs. Shows that college profs are not immune to embarrassing gaffs.

By WVU Prof.  on  07.09.2018

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More college-going students in WV need remedial classes

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

A growing percentage of high school graduates in West Virginia who attend the state’s public colleges need to take remedial classes to be ready for entry-level college classes. That’s according to a new report presented Thursday to the board that oversees West Virginia’s two-year colleges.

About 31 percent of college-going students who graduated in the spring of 2016 had test scores low enough that required them to enroll in a remedial class when they went to college, the report showed. That rate is double in a handful of the state’s most southern counties.
“What you’re seeing is, socioeconomic conditions that students face are a strong predictor of college success,” said Chris Treadway, the interim director of research and analysis who completed the report.

He was referring to a series of maps that show low-income areas largely coincide with counties that have graduate students needing remedial classes.

The report doesn’t take into account students who went to school out of the state, nor students who went to the state’s private colleges.

Two-thirds of college-going students in some Southern West Virginia counties needed remedial classes, the report shows. In eight counties, more than half of the college-going students needed remedial classes. Those counties were Calhoun, Fayette, Gilmer, Lincoln, Logan, Mingo, McDowell and Wayne.

College-going students from North Central West Virginia and each of the panhandles had the lowest need for remedial classes. In only one county, Monongalia, were there fewer than 10 percent of college-going students needing such classes.

The Free Press WV


The report was presented Thursday morning at a meeting of the Council for Community and Technical College Education. It includes students who graduated in the spring of 2016 and went on to study at one of the state’s public colleges within a year. It includes students who went to public and private high schools, and breaks down the need for remedial education by county and most individual schools.

“There’s been a real disconnect,” said Bob Brown, chairman of the council. “For a lot of years, public education has thought, ‘We know exactly what we need to get the kids prepared for to get them into college.’ But that isn’t necessarily the case. It’s just a lack of communication right now. We live in two separate worlds, and we need to figure out how to live in one world.”
Education quality coming into spotlight

State schools Superintendent Steve Paine said at a meeting earlier this week that he expects West Virginia’s 89.4 percent four-year public high school graduation rate for last school year to keep the state among the highest in the nation, by that measure.

“But we need to focus on quality instruction,” Paine said. “Even though we’re graduating a lot of kids, I have concerns about the quality of what we’re doing.”

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, questioned Paine during a legislative interim meeting Monday on whether credit-recovery programs provided students with enough instruction to make sure they learn core material. Those programs, which Paine said are used in most school systems across the state, often allow students to take a shortened, online program to make up for classes they’ve failed.

“We’ve got to stop making it easy to get a high school education requirement,” said Delegate George Ambler, R-Greenbrier. “There’s a lot of reasons why graduation statistics went up, and I’d venture to say it wasn’t because of the quality of education that kids were getting, it was the programs that were offered.

“Education should have a meaning to it. That high school diploma should not be cheapened, and it seems to me . . . we’re cheapening it.”

In Kanawha County, where 759 students from the class of 2016 went on to study at a public college in West Virginia, about 35 percent enrolled in some sort of remedial class. About 28 percent enrolled in remedial math, and almost 18 percent enrolled in remedial English.


Kanawha County Developmental Education

Kanawha County Schools spokeswoman Briana Warner said she hadn’t seen this data Thursday and was reluctant to answer questions. In an emailed statement, she said the county school system is dedicated to making sure students are college- and career-ready.

“Specific to students who may need a bit of additional academic help, we’re proud of the individual programs that each high school has developed to support those students,” Warner wrote. As one such example of a program, she pointed to “Warrior Time” at Riverside High, where students get one period a day to make up class work or focus on areas of need.

Students at Riverside had the highest rate of needing remedial classes of any public high school in the county. Nearly 51 percent of Riverside’s college-going students needed some sort of remedial classes, with 45 percent needing remedial math and 23 percent needing remedial English.

Valery Harper, the former principal of Riverside who recently was hired to lead the county’s virtual-schools program, said in an emailed statement after reading the report that she worked continuously while at Riverside to improve the school’s performance and believes the school is in “good hands” with the new principal, Jane Kennedy.

Harper did not specify what changes should be made, and Kennedy did not return a request for comment.

Graduates of South Charleston High had the second-highest rate in the county for needing remedial classes. The principal of that school, Michael Arbogast, said test scores alone shouldn’t be used to determine if a student should take remedial education. He suggested other facts, like a student’s GPA and recommendations from teachers, should count toward the determination.

“I’m just telling you, some kids have to work harder than others,” Arbogast said. “I have kids here who’ve been inducted into our honors program that maybe aren’t the highest-achieving academic kids but have busted their tails and worked their rear ends off to get in there. They get in there and they maintain a high grade point average. But when it comes down to the ACT, they don’t score real well.”

College-going students of George Washington High School had the lowest rate of needing remedial classes, with a nearly 24 percent rate. The principal of that school did not return a request for comment.


Changing attitudes to remedial classes

A statewide policy dictates which students are eligible to enter college math, English and reading courses and which students need remedial education. Students can qualify for entry-level college courses only through standardized test scores, like the ACT and SAT.

Students needs to take remedial math if they score below 19 on the math section of the ACT or below 500 on the math section of the SAT. A student who scores below 18 on the English section of the ACT or below 480 on the English section of the SAT needs to take a remedial course in English.

The West Virginia Department of Education recently selected the SAT as the new statewide assessment for high school juniors.

The ACT, which historically has been the most common college entrance exam students in the Mountain State take, has higher standards for what it sees as a student ready for college math. Under that standard, a student should earn a 22 in its math section.

Only 40 percent of students included in the study met the ACT’s benchmark. About 46 percent of students going to a four-year college did so, compared to only 12 percent who go to a two-year school.

In previous years, students taking remedial classes were enrolled in a class without credit, meaning that, although they had to complete class work and exams, how they performed in the class didn’t count to their overall credits to earn a degree. As a result, many students didn’t finish the remedial course.

The state’s public colleges have largely redesigned this system in the past four years, opting to call it developmental education, instead of remedial classes. Corley Dennison, vice chancellor for academic affairs at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, said community colleges pushed in 2013 for a change, to make sure every student needing remedial classes got that remediation in a credit-bearing course.

In practice, this means professors squeeze remedial education into an entry-level course.

“The downside is, if you’re spending time on developmental courses, you’re not spending the time you could be on regular higher education courses,” Brown said.

All of West Virginia’s public two-year colleges have implemented the co-requisite model, Dennison said, save for a handful of cases where students need extreme remediation. About 55 percent of all community college students need some sort of developmental education, the report shows.

In four-year colleges, the change hasn’t been as swift. The HEPC, which oversees four-year schools, set a goal to get 80 percent of all students needing remedial education into a co-requisite class by fall 2018. Dennison said the four-year colleges are on track to meet that goal next year, but he didn’t know Thursday afternoon exactly how close they are.

“In the long-run, the colleges actually spend less time, because they had so many students that were dropping out of the developmental course because they were getting behind or they weren’t going to pass it,” Dennison said. “Then they had to repeat the course. The success numbers with this program are so much higher, because they’re having fewer students repeating the course.”
Staff writer contributed to this report.

~~  Jake Jarvis & Ryan Quinn ~~

Glenville State board cuts tuition, adds new fee for some students

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

The Glenville State College Board of Governors decided Wednesday to cut tuition by 25 percent for the summer semester and, so long as there are no future budget cuts from the Legislature, to cut tuition by 2 percent for the fall semester.

To make up for the tuition decreases, President Tracy Pellett said the school will cut more than $600,000 of scholarships the school currently offers.

“Part of this, frankly, is an effort for all institutions in West Virginia to advocate that they leave us alone,” Pellett said following the meeting. “If the Legislature would invest a little more money in Glenville State and probably other colleges — I can only speak for us, but we will decrease tuition additionally.”

The summer tuition cut will come no matter what, but the 2 percent tuition cut for the fall 2018 semester will only happen if the school is spared from further cuts to its state appropriations.

If the school sees more cuts, Pellett said it would probably need to increase tuition.

This past summer, an in-state student spent more than $900 to take a single three-credit class, not including fees. The 25 percent tuition cut for the summer semester means a student will save about $230 for a class.

The 2 percent tuition cut for the fall 2018 semester will mean a savings of about $136 for every student, according to documents given to board members. The school would lose about $162,000 because of the cut, one estimate showed, but cutting scholarships will more than make up for it.

College administrators often refer to scholarships by another name — tuition discounts. That’s because when a student gets such a scholarship, there’s no actual exchange of money. The students get a discount on the bill they need to pay.

Pellett said he didn’t know Wednesday exactly how much scholarship money the school offers, but that reducing it by more than $600,000 would be a decrease of less than 10 percent.

“It’s a more focused approach in the way you give it out,” Pellett said. “In other words, right now, we do institutional scholarships not in the most strategic way. We’ve got to do a better job on focusing our efforts at the students that have the greatest need and have the best merit. Right now, we’re not doing as strategic of a job as we need to.”

Glenville State planned to announce the tuition cuts at a special news conference at the Governor’s Office on Tuesday morning. A handful of board members, including the chairman and vice chairman, could not be reached for comment Wednesday afternoon.

The board’s decision follows a move during the summer to cut tuition by $1 this year for every student and to marginally reduce the cost of a meal plan.

Also Wednesday, board members approved a new fee to charge students $300 for every credit hour they take over 17 credit hours a semester. This fee, which won’t take affect until next fall, will mean a student taking 18 credit hours will pay an extra $300, a student taking 19 credits will be pay an extra $600 and so on. Glenville State students currently need approval from an academic adviser to enroll in more than 18 credits in a semester.

“You shouldn’t have to take extra classes in the year if we’re cutting the tuition 25 percent for summer,” Pellett said. “This is another opportunity for students to get ahead or catch up, and do it in a significant way. We felt like the 25 percent would be a game-changer for a lot of students and families who are struggling to avoid the costs in that way.”

That fee sounds like a tuition increase, but Pellett insists it isn’t — “it’s an instructional support fee,” he said.

“The cost associated with the extra credits over 12 hours is not being recovered by tuition,” he said. “Tuition is just not covering it. What we’re finding is, to make sure we are providing the classes that need to be offered, to cover the additional expenses beyond a normal course of study, we thought there should be this fee.”

State law prohibits public colleges from charging students additional tuition for taking more than 12 credit hours in a semester. Schools charge students more money for every credit hour they take until they hit 12 hours — the point they become a full-time student. At that point, the student is charged a flat tuition amount no matter how many more credit hours they take.

Earlier this year, lawmakers briefly considered allowing colleges to charge students more tuition for taking more than 12 credit a semester. The House Education Committee considered adding language to different higher education bills that would have allowed colleges to do that, but the idea died.

Committee members feared at the time such a policy would discourage students from completing their degrees on time. The Higher Education Policy Commission and colleges across the state have pushed a “15 to Finish” campaign, encouraging students to take at least 15 credit hours a semester in order to graduate on time.

~~  Jake Jarvis ~~

Frontier Communication….

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Frontier Won’t Return $4.7M in Broadband Funds to WV

Frontier Communications won’t give back any of the $4.7 million in stimulus funds that the federal government says the state overpaid Frontier as part of a statewide project that aimed to expand high-speed internet, the company told state officials this week.

A federal agency recently ordered the state to return the misspent funds paid to Frontier. The U.S Commerce Department’s payment demand followed an inspector general’s report that found Frontier padded hundreds of invoices with extra charges, and the state improperly reimbursed Frontier for those “unreasonable and unallowable” fees. Federal grant rules barred the state from using stimulus funds to pay such project costs.
In a letter to state Chief Technology Officer John Dunlap this week, Frontier asserts that any funds that state might return to the federal government “are, of course, not recoverable from Frontier.”

Frontier cites a “memorandum of understanding,” signed by the company and state officials, in which the state agreed to use federal funds to pay Frontier for overhead costs – the same expenses the feds now say were prohibited under the grant rules. Frontier said it only signed on to the statewide broadband project after state officials agreed to reimburse the company for all costs – “both indirect and direct,” the letter states.

Frontier also disputed the federal government’s determination that the state must return $4.7 million, urging the state to file an appeal.

“To avoid the waste of millions of West Virginia taxpayer dollars, the [state] should appeal,” wrote Mark McKenzie, a Frontier engineer who oversaw the company’s role in the project,

In 2010, the federal government awarded West Virginia $126.3 million in stimulus funds to expand high-speed internet to schools, libraries, health clinics and government buildings. The grant money included $42 million for a fiber cable network.

The state asked Frontier to install 915 miles of fiber cable to hundreds of public facilities across the state, but scaled back the project to 675 miles. Nonetheless, the state paid Frontier the entire $42 million initially set aside for the project. Frontier finished the project two years ago.

The company improperly tacked on $4.24 million in extra charges to pay for administrative costs, according to the federal report. Frontier labeled those charges as “loadings.”

Another $465,000 in improper payments went to Frontier to process invoices, the report says.

State officials have told investigators that a federal broadband grant administrator gave the state the go-ahead to pay the extra fees. But the federal administrator has denied saying that. The inspector general’s report cites a “miscommunication” between the federal broadband agency and West Virginia officials.

The feds have not directed the state – nor Frontier — to return the stimulus funds.

“As you know, the [state] agreed to pay Frontier for its indirect costs , regardless of whether those costs were eligible under the grant,” Frontier said in it letter to the state.

State officials have declined to say whether they plan to appeal.

The federal government’s $4.7 million payment demand could grow even higher.

The Commerce Department also cites findings that Frontier misled the public about the amount of unused fiber cable – called “maintenance coil” – the company installed across the state. The extra cable, which is stored at public buildings and used for repairs drove up the broadband expansion project’s cost.

Frontier placed 49 miles of spooled-up, unused fiber cable in West Virginia, four times the amount the company had disclosed to state officials.

The feds ordered state officials to find out whether the extra coil was included in the total miles of cable the state claimed that Frontier built with stimulus funds. The state also was directed to get an “explanation from Frontier for the reason it misrepresented the maintenance coil mileage to the public.”

In the letter to Dunlap, Frontier said it didn’t mislead anybody.

In 2013, at the state’s request, a Frontier employee gave an estimate of the amount of extra fiber the company planned to set aside — and bill the state — for maintenance. But the employee was “unaware of factors that often caused the proportion of maintenance coil to be higher,” the company said. Those factors include an “engineer’s judgment,” terrain, the site’s condition and the height of poles used to string the extra coil, according to Frontier’s letter. The employee also told a state official that a “more accurate estimate could be determined” by reviewing engineering maps of the project.

Frontier acknowledged the 49 miles of spooled-up, extra coil was included in its 675-mile total of fiber the company installed across the state, according to the letter to Dunlap. The state wound up paying about $240,000 more for coil compared to the employee’s initial estimate, the letter says.

Last year, Citynet sued Frontier for allegedly stifling competition in West Virginia and using the federal stimulus funds to build a broadband network that solely benefits Frontier. Frontier has disputed the allegations, characterizing Citynet as a disgruntled competitor with a six-year vendetta against Frontier, which is headquartered in Connecticut.

While the state paid Frontier $42 million in federal stimulus funds to bring high-speed fiber service to more than 1,000 public buildings across West Virginia, nobody seems to know how many facilities are using that fiber today.

On September 18, Dunlap posed that question to Frontier. The company wrote back that the state selected the sites, and Frontier doesn’t monitor which public facilities now use the federally funded fiber cable.

Eric Eyre

G-ICYMI™: WV Same-Sex Couple

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Why WV same-sex couple filed lawsuit instead of complaint with state

Samantha Brookover and Amanda Abramovich wanted to prevent discrimination against other same-sex couples, so they filed a complaint with the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.

But in the end, they filed a lawsuit in federal court instead, arguing that their constitutional rights had been violated.

They felt like too much of a “burden” to the state Human Rights Commission, Brookover said.

West Virginia’s Human Rights Act protects people from discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations. It says that all West Virginians — regardless of race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, blindness or disability — should have equal rights in areas of public accommodation.

Public accommodations, like the Gilmer County clerk’s office, where Brookover and Abramovich applied for a marriage license and deputy clerk Debbie Allen told them, in February 2016, that what they were doing was wrong, and that God would judge them.

West Virginia’s Human Rights Act does not explicitly mention sexual orientation. But Cameron McKinney, attorney for the West Virginia Human Rights Commission, said he could have proceeded with the case anyway. The West Virginia Human Rights Commission is a state agency created by the West Virginia Human Rights Act. It is “charged with the responsibility of working to eliminate discrimination in West Virginia,” according to its website.

McKinney said he could have made the argument the women were discriminated against based on sex.

The Free Press WV
Samantha Brookover (left) and Amanda Abramovich.

In other words, they were each doing something Allen didn’t think a woman should do — marry another woman.

After a person files a complaint with the Human Rights Commission, an investigator makes a recommendation as to whether there is probable cause. McKinney said they had received the complaint, and were investigating it, when the women asked to withdraw the case and said they planned to pursue a lawsuit instead.

“The only decision we made was that it was probably within our jurisdictional reach,” McKinney said.

Brookover and Abramovich filed a suit in April of 2017, represented by attorneys from Americans United for Separation of Church and State and cooperating counsel for Fairness West Virginia, an LGBT rights advocacy organization.

McKinney did not give names, but Brookover confirmed this week that she and Abramovich were the couple involved. A judge had dismissed the case Wednesday, after the parties agreed that Gilmer County would pay them $10,000, apologize, and Fairness West Virginia would hold a workplace sensitivity training.

“Americans United, this is a sole focus for them,” Brookover said. “Where the Human Rights Commission is, I feel, a little less in tune with the LGBT community.”

Brookover said they felt like “a burden” to the state Human Rights Commission.

“I felt like I was using up a lot of their resources and a lot of their time and effort,” she said. “Americans United took us further under their wing.”

“They were great and they were very concerned,” she said, referring to the Human Rights Commission. 

But, “we kept getting bounced around an awful lot,” she said.

Earlier this year, the West Virginia Supreme Court found that Steward Butler, who attacked a same-sex couple in Huntington after he saw the two men kissing, could not be charged with a hate crime.

West Virginia’s hate crimes code also does not mention sexual orientation, but it does protect people on the basis of sex discrimination.

Cabell prosecutors had, like McKinney, argued that discrimination against a same-sex couple could fall under sex discrimination. They argued that Butler attacked based on his own views of how men should behave. Some federal courts have found that discrimination against same-sex couples can fall under sex discrimination.

Not long after the state Supreme Court found that the criminal statute cannot be interpreted that way, McKinney noted that the West Virginia Human Rights Act — the civil statute — is to be “liberally construed to provide people as much benefit as possible.”

“I think that there is room for an opposite interpretation from what they reached in the criminal case,” he said. “I don’t know what Allen Loughry would say,” he said, referring to the chief justice who wrote the opinion in Butler’s case. 

The couple’s lawsuit, he noted, doesn’t cite West Virginia law.

“So far we just don’t have that case,” McKinney said.

McKinney said the only other person who had approached the commission about sexual orientation discrimination, whom he was aware of, was a woman from Huntington. He told her she had the option of filing with the commission, but state law “presented some risk to her.”

“The best approach is for the Legislature to amend the law,” he said. “Businesses and young, working people don’t want to go to backward places that are not open and receptive to all kinds.”

Andrew Schneider, executive director of Fairness West Virginia, said McKinney and another HRC employee have contacted him before about cases, and that “we’re in touch with each other so we make sure no one falls through the cracks.”

He added though, “I think a lot of people from the LGBT community are probably discouraged from approaching them, fearing that the law doesn’t protect them.”

As for whether any LGBT people contact the West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office with discrimination complaints, earlier this year, Steven Travis, of the attorney general’s office, said, in response to a public records request, that the office “does not receive these complaints but rather acts as legal counsel for the West Virginia Human Rights Commission who receives, investigates, and refers claims for prosecution to our office.”

~~  Erin Beck - Gazette-Mail  ~~

Study Finds Most Folks Don’t Buy Fake News

The Free Press WV

Despite claims by some politicians, fake news, social media and search algorithms don’t sway public opinion, according to a study by a group of international researchers.

William Dutton, the report’s lead author, says if search engines did help create so-called filter bubbles – where users only get links to information with which they agree – the impacts on the democratic process could be huge.

But he says surveys in seven nations including the U.S. found it’s not as big a problem as recent media coverage suggests.

“On social media and on the Internet generally, they find a lot of viewpoints that their friends and family, that they disagree with,” he states. “And they often go to search to check the reliability, validity of what they hear on social media.“

After Donald Trump’s upset victory over Hillary Clinton, pundits and pollsters struggled to find answers and many tagged social media for hosting numerous posts that were outright lies.

Dutton says while a minority of Internet users are not skilled in vetting facts, most are not so easily fooled.

The research – commissioned and funded by Google – was conducted independently by Oxford University, Michigan State University and the University of Ottawa.

Dutton says fears of social media echo chambers also are overstated. He notes the survey of 14,000 people found users agree and disagree with political posts on platforms such as Facebook.

And Dutton says people also are exposed to a variety of perspectives on television, radio and print outlets. He adds users rarely unfriend or block people with whom they disagree.

“Most people who are very interested in politics are relying on all sorts of sources of information and not simply search, or not simply social media,“ he stresses.

Dutton adds a small percentage of Internet users are not adept at fact checking, and it’s important for schools at all levels to give people the tools they need to navigate the Internet’s resources when it comes to accepting online claims at face value.

“Every effort to create training and education around media literacy in a multimedia digital environment is still valuable,” he stresses. “But it’s not a problem for most users, but it is a problem for some users.“

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Living in West Virginia

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Why would millennials come to live in WV?

As the black hole that was the 2017 regular session imploded upon itself last week, I happened to receive a copy of a survey by the WalletHub website ranking the best and worst states for millennials.

Not surprisingly, West Virginia ranked dead last — 51st, behind all other states and Washington, D.C.

Despite ranking seventh in affordability, West Virginia ranked 42nd in education and health, 49th in quality of life, and 51st in economic health. It also ranked 50th in millennials as a percentage of the state population, and 44th in average monthly earnings for millennials.

In other words, according to the survey, there’s not much here to attract or retain young adults.

That led me to envision the state as an apartment, with a landlord trying to pitch it to a millennial:

Here we have a two-bedroom, one bath unit with lovely scenic views. Sorry that the driveway and parking lot are so torn up. We just haven’t had money to repave, but once you’re here awhile, dodging the potholes will become second nature.

Yes, it’s heated with a coal stove. We never upgraded because we kept thinking coal was coming back, but you can use space heaters, just as long as you don’t plug in more than one at a time, because the wiring is antiquated.

No, there’s no broadband, but from the bedroom facing northeast, you can get a pretty decent cellphone signal.

The neighborhood? It used to be pretty good, but now there’s a lot of drug activity and there aren’t as many cops on the streets, so you probably don’t want to be out after dark. We used to have a lot of good restaurants and entertainment venues, and the city used to host concerts and festivals, and that building at the foot of the hill once was a public library.

Our schools aren’t that good, and a lot of good teachers left over the years because of low pay, so if you have kids, you’ll probably want to ship them off to private school, if you can afford it.

Clearly, no millennial in his or her right mind would ever consider renting the place.

Imagine in this scenario that Gov. Jim Justice became a part-owner of the apartment, and being a good businessman, realized he needed to spend some bucks to fix the place up if he ever hoped to attract young professionals as tenants.

Despite Justice’s sound plan for renovating the apartment, applying this scenario, one of the co-owners just wanted to spend the bare minimum to slap a coat of paint on the place, hoping that would disguise its flaws, while the other co-owner was adamant about not spending an additional penny, instead proposing yanking out and selling the kitchen appliances and bathroom fixtures to raise some money.

During the session, Justice has focused on one question for all legislation: Will it bring people to the state, or drive more people away?

Likewise, legislative leadership came into the session with a theme of creating jobs and balancing the budget, and it is ending the session with little to show on either account.

Another question might be: Did the 2017 session do anything substantive to improve West Virginia’s ranking as the worst state for millennials?

A second straight year of budget impasse also doesn’t seem like a way to build investor confidence or encourage people to relocate to the state.

It didn’t help that holes got blown back into the budget, with the Senate’s rejection of legislation to eliminate the $9 million Racetrack Modernization Fund — a matching fund that lets out-of-state casino corporations use state money to upgrade their West Virginia casinos, freeing up funds that they can use to make improvements to their casinos in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Maryland that compete directly with West Virginia casinos — and with Justice’s veto of legislation to finally eliminate the $15 million state subsidy of greyhound racing purse funds.

Being that I’m on Twitter as a condition of employment, I’m not in a position to delete my account, although over time, I’ve blocked most annoyances.

That House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, deleted his Twitter account at the height of the push to get the House to take up the medical marijuana bill (Senate Bill 386) does not speak well for his interest in seeking input from constituents.

Given the lack of couth on social networks, it’s not surprising that some of the many tweets sent to Armstead did not look favorably on what proponents of the measure saw as his attempts to obstruct the bill, or that some of those tweets wished upon him horrible diseases the pain of which he would not be able to ease with medical marijuana.

While we may wish that there were a higher level of public discourse, Armstead must recognize that his party, at the state and national level, and its benefactors have contributed mightily to the toxic environment that exists in politics today.

Finally, I can’t say I get to watch the evolution of a bill from creation to passage very often, but I did have that opportunity with the daily Cardinal passenger rail service compact bill (SB 2856).

Following the Amtrak-sponsored conference in Cincinnati back in September to build a coalition of support for daily Cardinal service, the Friends of the Cardinal organization (in which my participation consists mainly of showing up at meetings) was tasked with pursing legislative support for the concept of operating the Cardinal daily, perhaps through a resolution.

Lawyer, lobbyist and railfan Larry George showed up at the Friends’ November meeting, and suggested that the group pursue legislation as opposed to a resolution. (My two cents’ of input was that simple resolutions aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.)

George worked with Friends co-chairmen Chuck Riecks and Bill Bartley to come up with the draft legislation, and Riecks did the heavy lifting rounding up bill sponsors in the House.

Once Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and state Tourism Commissioner Chelsea Ruby endorsed the proposal, it breezed through the legislative process. (This after I suggested back in November that Friends members not get their hopes up, because even noncontroversial bills rarely pass on their first try.)

Friends now has a new assignment from Amtrak, to visit the state’s eight stations on the Cardinal route and update information for those facilities — specifications such as platform lengths, waiting area amenities and perhaps, most importantly, availability of parking.

Charleston, for instance, has five long-term parking spaces in what once was the station’s taxi stand — which is inadequate for current demand, let alone the likelihood of increasing ridership by more than double with daily service.

~~  Phil Kabler,  Gazette-Mail ~~

G-ICYMI™: Raising Property Taxes for Schools

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Senate Finance amends bill to raise property taxes for schools


West Virginia’s Senate Finance Committee changed Monday the bill that would cut about $79 million in state funding to public schools next fiscal year into more of a straightforward statewide county property tax increase bill.

In the new version of Senate Bill 609, county school boards could decide to opt out of the tax increase on their residents if they’re willing to take the significant financial hit. Kanawha County would see the largest total funding loss if it chose to completely opt out of the tax increase: $9.3 million.

The bill was amended in a voice vote, then it passed out of the committee to the Senate floor on a 12-6 party-line vote, with Republicans voting yes and Democrats opposed.

The previous version of SB 609 the Senate Education Committee passed would’ve cut the $79 million and newly allowed school boards to vote to opt in to increasing their regular levy property tax rates to make up for the state funding loss.

Amy Willard, executive director of the state Office of School Finance under the Department of Education, said if school boards raised their regular levy tax rates to the maximum allowed under the previous version of SB 609, they would effectively have no funding change next fiscal year.

The new version of the bill automatically would increase the regular levy rate to the maximum in each county. Willard said the current planned rate for class 2 property next fiscal year — owner-occupied residential property and farms — is 38.8 cents per $100 of assessed valuation, and the new rate under the bill would be 45.9 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

She previously has said the change would mean a person with a home appraised at $75,000 would pay $31.95 extra on his or her annual tax bill for that home, while someone would pay $42.60 extra on a $100,000 home.

“I know that my counties in the southwest coalfields are distressed,” said Sen. Ron Stollings, D-Boone. “There is a lot of homes that are in bankruptcy, a lot of cars that are repossessed, a lot of people are trying to move, a lot of homes for sale, and the last thing they need is a tax increase.”

But he said he heard “optimistic news today that there are some things moving in the House that might actually raise some revenue for us, maybe a food tax, maybe a sales tax, that would pre-empt this.”
“I think we ought to have our big boy pants on and be able to do this ourselves without pushing it back to the counties,” Stollings said.

Sen. Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, noted on Saturday, Democrats and Senate Finance Chairman Mike Hall, R-Putnam, expressed concerns about the previous version of the bill possibly violating the state Constitution and the Recht decision if not all school boards agreed to raise taxes.

“How is this any different from that perspective if we’re pushing everybody up and then some back it back down?” Palumbo asked.

In the landmark 1980s Recht decision, Ohio County Circuit Judge Arthur Recht found the state’s public schools failed to meet a “thorough and efficient” standard demanded by the state Constitution and ordered an overhaul of school financing with the idea that children from high and low property value counties should receive the same education.

“There are those people who believe that if the Recht decision were revisited the outcome may be different,” Hall said after the meeting. “So it’s not unconstitutional until a judge says it is.”

“It’s obvious that this bill has not made it all the way to passage, this is its first start, it’s not its destination, should other revenue sources surface, this bill will be absolutely unnecessary,” Hall said.

He said the Democrats are “in a position to vote no on any tax increases, and they’ve got us in an odd position of trying to find revenue,” for public education and other programs.

“They’re going to vote no so they can probably say to the voters out there, ‘Hey, we didn’t raise your taxes, they did,’ but the economy didn’t fall apart under us, it fell apart under them,” Hall said.

~~  Ryan Quinn, Gazette-Mail ~~

G-ICYMI™: WV’s Broadband Ranking

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

WV RANKS 48 IN REAL BROADBAND ACCESS IN USA

Frontier Communications and cable companies like Suddenlink are opposing the West Virginia Legislature’s latest attempt to improve high-speed internet across the state.

At a public hearing Friday, lobbyists for Frontier and the cable industry skewered parts of a bill (HB3093) that would authorize a pilot project in which three cities or counties would band together to build a broadband network and offer internet service to customers.

The industry lobbyists said legislation should target areas without high-speed internet — not places that already have service.

“When you spend taxpayer dollars and resources to focus on areas that already have broadband just so you can have a third or fourth choice, you are denying and depriving service to those who have none,” said Kathy Cosco, a Frontier executive and lobbyist.

Frontier and cable internet providers also oppose a section of the bill that would allow 20 or more families or businesses to form nonprofit co-ops that would provide internet service in rural areas.

Mark Polen, who represents the cable industry, said the bill should be changed to “make it clear these pilot projects and co-ops can’t be deployed where there’s already service.”

“That would be critical to the protection of our investment,” Polen said. “Anything that’s going to result in public subsidies being given to those that are going to overbuild private investment is not the proper policy. Let’s focus on the unserved areas and not allow this program to turn into an overbuilding initiative.”

Smaller internet providers like Bridgeport-based Citynet support the legislation. Citynet CEO Jim Martin told lawmakers that Frontier and the cable industry want to shut out competitors and protect their stranglehold on broadband service across the state.

“There is a reason they’re opposed to it, and that’s because this bill is going to enable competition,” Martin said.

Frontier, which is the largest internet provider in the state, also opposes a section of the bill that bars companies from advertising maximum or “up to” speeds. That measure aims to block firms from advertising internet speeds that they seldom — or never — deliver to customers.

Cosco said the measure unfairly stops companies from touting improved service. Frontier stopped advertising an “up to” speed in 2014, she said.

“If providers aren’t allowed to promote the service that’s available, it would be detrimental to the state’s economic development,” Cosco said.

Martin said his company would have no problem whatsoever with the ban on deceptive advertising. Internet providers would still be able to advertise minimum download and upload speeds available to customers.

“If you have a network and you’re comfortable with it, you should be able to advertise your minimum speed, and then stick with it,” Martin said. “It’s fantastic we aren’t going to allow for false advertising and representations of an ‘up to’ speed.”

Speakers at the public hearing also praised the bill for establishing procedures that would give internet providers quicker access to telephone poles used to hang fiber cable. Smaller firms said they sometimes have to wait months or years to use the poles.

But Cosco said the proposed changes conflict with Federal Communication Commission rules. And a leader of a union that represents Frontier technicians said the proposed pole procedures pose a safety risk.

“It would allow unqualified personnel from third-party contractors to transfer equipment on a utility pole to make room for a new provider’s equipment,” said Elaine Harris, who represents the Communications Workers of America in West Virginia.

ORIGINAL STORY 03.16.2017 – West Virginia lawmakers unveiled comprehensive broadband legislation Thursday that aims to spur competition among internet providers in rural areas and stop deceptive advertising about internet speeds.

House Bill 3093 would allow up to three cities or counties to start a pilot project by banding together and building a broadband network that provides high-speed internet service. Twenty or more families or businesses in rural communities also could form nonprofit co-ops that would qualify for federal grants to expand internet service, according to the bill.

“This is superb,” said Ron Pearson, a retired federal bankruptcy judge and broadband expansion advocate. “We’ve got to have competition in providing internet and other services that travel over fiber to households and businesses or we’re going to be stuck in the dark ages of competition in West Virginia.”

Lobbyists for Frontier Communications and cable internet providers already are raising objections to the legislation. The bill will face tough sledding in the Senate. Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, also works as Frontier’s sales director in West Virginia.

“We believe connecting West Virginia citizens is vital to our shared success, and any legislative proposal should focus on reaching the unserved and rural markets of our state,” Frontier spokesman Andy Malinoski said. “We are, however, concerned that House Bill 3093 may not accomplish that goal.”

Delegate Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, gave a 30-minute overview of the broadband legislation Thursday in the House chamber. Lawmakers have been working on the bill for months.

One of the bill’s key selling points: It requires no state funding — welcome news as lawmakers grapple with a $500 million budget deficit.

“We need revenue-neutral solutions to problems,” Hanshaw told lobbyists and fellow lawmakers who attended his presentation. “This is such a bill.”

In addition to broadband co-ops, the legislation would forbid internet companies from falsely advertising maximum download speeds — also referred to as “up to” speeds — while providing significantly slower speeds to customers. The internet firms could still advertise minimum internet service speeds.

Frontier, West Virginia’s largest internet provider, faces a class-action lawsuit over false advertising. Attorney General Patrick Morrisey also has taken the company to task over internet speeds.

“This [section of the bill] protects consumers from deceptive advertising,” Hanshaw said.

The legislation also expands the powers of the state Broadband Enhancement Council.

The 13-member panel would be responsible for collecting data about internet speeds and broadband service across the state — and publishing the “mapping” information. Data would be collected voluntarily from internet providers and consumers.

West Virginia ranks 48th in the nation for broadband accessibility.

“More data is always better,” Hanshaw said. “It gives businesses looking to locate here a definitive tool they can use to make decisions on where to locate a facility.

” Also under the bill:

The broadband council would collect and distribute grant money. The council also would act as a “think tank” and make recommendations to the Legislature.

Internet providers could string fiber-optic cable in shallow “micro-trenches,” which are less expensive to dig than traditional utility trenches.

Companies wanting to expand broadband could place their fiber on telephone poles more quickly under new, expedited procedures.

A program would allow landowners to voluntarily grant easements for fiber lines.

~~  Eric Eyre Gazette-Mail ~~

G-ICYMI™: WV Transgender

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

Study: WV has nation’s highest percent of teens who identify as transgender

A study released in January estimated that West Virginia has, out of all 50 states, the highest percentage of 13- to 17-year-olds who would identify as transgender.

The Williams Institute’s study estimated that 1.04 percent of West Virginians in that age range would identify as transgender, compared to the national percentage of .73 percent. The study estimated that the Mountain State has 1,150 13- to 17-year-olds who would identify as transgender, compared with 149,750 nationally in that age group.

Hawaii was estimated to have the next-highest percentage, at 1.01 percent, followed by New Mexico at .88 and California and Minnesota, both at .85 percent. Connecticut and Iowa came in last, at .39 percent.

Along with the 50 states, the study also did an estimate for Washington, D.C., which would surpass all 50 states at 1.12 percent.

Jody L. Herman, scholar of public policy at The Williams Institute and an author of the study, said the organization is a research center whose main mission is to study law and policy issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity. She said the center was founded in 2001 and is housed within the University of California-Los Angeles’ School of Law.

The study has not yet finished being peer reviewed, and Herman said she hopes to have a description of the methods and findings published in an academic journal.

The study didn’t actually poll 13- to 17-year-olds across the nation. Instead, it estimated how many people in that age range would identify as transgender by using data on how many adults identify as transgender.

It took this data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys, which are done via phone. The report, “Age of Individuals Who Identify as Transgender in the United States,” notes that not all states use the optional module of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System that contains the question “Do you consider yourself to be transgender?”

West Virginia wasn’t among the 19 states that asked that question in 2014, but it was among the 21 states that did so in 2015.

Herman said that because West Virginia didn’t ask the question in 2014, a past Williams Institute study of how many adults identify as transgender used a “predictive model” to estimate the percentage in the Mountain State based on the information available from other states and considerations like social climate and demographics.

The adult report thus estimated that .42 percent of Mountain State adults would identify as transgender, compared with a .58 percent national average. That ranked West Virginia 42nd in the nation.

But Herman said the new youth estimate study now takes into account the actual 2015 poll of West Virginia adults.

“West Virginia has a relatively high percentage of adults who identify as transgender,” Herman said. “Somewhat surprisingly so. ... When you have actual data from West Virginia, the picture looks very different.”

She said the past predictive model would’ve suggested West Virginia would have a below-national-average percentage of 13- to 17-year-olds who identify as transgender. For instance, West Virginia is overwhelmingly white, and Herman said a higher proportion of people of color identify as transgender compared to whites.

But using the 2015 poll of West Virginia adults to estimate the percentage of 13-17-year-olds who would identify as transgender changed the picture.

Herman said the study unfortunately doesn’t answer why West Virginia has the nation’s highest estimated percentage.

“West Virginia is a mystery,” she said.

“It makes it all the more important that we have to protect these teenagers because they’re a very vulnerable population,” Andrew Schneider, executive director of the LGBT rights group Fairness West Virginia, said of the study’s finding. “They experience discrimination in greater numbers than other people.”

“We need our schools to adopt policies that will make sure that transgender students feel protected and safe within the school environment,” he said. “Transgender students should be able to use a bathroom without fear of harm or harassment.”

Of the superintendents of the state’s 55 counties, each of which has a single countywide public school system, Hardy County Superintendent Matthew Dotson remained as of September the only one publicly saying his school system would comply with the Obama administration’s guidance that transgender students — while they can be offered private bathroom facilities — must be allowed to use gender-identity matching accommodations if they so desire.

The Trump administration rescinded that guidance last week, but a U.S. Supreme Court case that could set national precedent for transgender students to have that right is scheduled for oral arguments later this month.

The superintendents for Calhoun, Clay, Doddridge and Marion counties said they would deny access, and most superintendents either didn’t provide a clear answer on whether they would deny access or didn’t respond to the Gazette-Mail’s past calls.

~~  Ryan Quinn - Gazette-Mail ~~

G-ICYMI™: Two Gilmer County Board of Education Members Resign

The Free Press WV
The Free Press WV

2 Gilmer board members resign as school system freed from state control


Gilmer County’s locally elected school board will at least nominally regain control of the county’s public school system Monday, but two of the five board members have called it quits.

Board members Carl Armour, Norma Hurley and Robert Minigh voted Thursday to approve the memorandum of understanding the state Board of Education required them to sign in order to regain local control.

“It means the return of democracy to Gilmer County,” Hurley said. “It means that the elected representatives of the people will be able to do the job they were elected to do, and that’s very important.”

They then approved the resignations of the two absent board members: Tom Ratliff and Bill Simmons.

Ratliff’s wife said he wasn’t home Thursday evening.

Even though Simmons told the Gazette-Mail Thursday he disagreed with the return of local control at this time, he said it wasn’t the reason for his resignation, which he said he believes he submitted in early November.

He said his wife died in September, and he now wants to use his background in higher education — he was president of Glenville State College for 21 years, among other education roles — to help train teachers for today’s classrooms.

The board members present at Thursday’s meeting said they weren’t aware until the meeting began that Ratliff and Simmons had submitted their resignations.

The December state Office of Education Audits report that recommended returning local control to Gilmer noted that one unnamed board member said “resignation from the board is a possibility if local control is reinstated and improvements are not made.” Simmons said he wasn’t that member.

Gabe Devono, Gilmer’s state-appointed superintendent who opposed the return of local control and has fought with some Gilmer board members in the past, said Ratliff and Simmons sent him resignation letters with no explanation that were effective as of January 01, and he had held off on presenting the resignations to the board until Thursday, in hopes they would change their minds.

Devono said that to his understanding, the remaining board members will have 45 days to pick replacement board members, who will serve until the next election in May 2018, when every seat but Minigh’s will be up for election.

The memorandum of understanding requires the Gilmer board, which will see its powers returned under the agreement, to keep Devono until June 30. Devono said he plans to stay until that date, but doesn’t know whether he’ll apply for a contract extension.

He could leave before June 30 if he and the board mutually agree to part ways. He said his contract, which pays him $126,000 annually, expires June 30 anyway.

The MOU, which also wasn’t provided by state education officials to the Gazette-Mail or Gilmer board members until Thursday’s meeting, also puts Gilmer on a three-year “provisional oversight” period.

“If at any time within the three year provisional period the state board determines that intervention in the operation of the school system is again necessary, the state board shall hold a public hearing in the affected county so that the reasons for the intervention and the concerns of the citizens of the county may be heard,” the roughly two-page document states, citing a section of state law.

“However, the state board may intervene immediately in the operation of the county school system with all the powers, duties and responsibilities contained in subsection (m) of this [state law] section,” the MOU continues, “if the state board finds that the conditions precedent to intervention exist once again and that the state board had previously intervened in the operation of the same school system and had concluded that intervention within the preceding five years.”

And, even once fully freed from the special status that’s often dubbed “state control” or “state intervention” in the education world, Gilmer will still be subject to the many state laws and state school board policies all other West Virginia public school systems are subject to.

Gilmer is the state’s lowest-enrollment public school system, at only about 840 students.

Thursday’s meeting lasted about 30 minutes in a cramped conference room that Devono said was used because it had the teleconference phone where state education officials could call in to discuss the MOU.

Now, Fayette County, with a roughly 6,490 enrollment, is left as West Virginia’s only state-controlled public school system, though the state School Building Authority’s board voted last month to fund a state school board-supported plan for school consolidation.

“Historically, the board in Fayette County has been contentious, demonstrated primarily by the issue of school closures and consolidation,” read a OEPA report before the Fayette state takeover. “The [OEPA] Team observed that while many small elementary schools had been closed, the high schools remained with the exception of Gauley Bridge High School. A member or members of the board have been unwilling to deal with the very small high schools and support a plan to combine some and improve severe facility deficiencies, limited curriculum, and poorly achieving schools.”

Gilmer itself has seen consolidation while under state control. It’s closed Glenville, Normantown, Sand Fork and Troy elementaries; only a new Gilmer County Elementary, and the intercounty Leading Creek Elementary on the line between Gilmer and Lewis counties, have taken their place.

The state school board decided last month to offer the freedom deal to Gilmer, three years after the state school board voted to return partial control to Gilmer’s board.

The deal came after an Office of Education Performance Audits report on Gilmer — based upon an audit conducted on October 27 and 28 of this year — recommended for the first time that the state school board release its hold on Gilmer.

That recommendation was despite the fact that the report noted Devono and two of Gilmer’s five local school board members told the OEPA team that they opposed the return of local democracy to their county. The report didn’t name the specific Gilmer members in opposition.

“The superintendent opposed the ending of the state control, stating that the board remained dysfunctional, politicized, and incapable of functioning as a local board,” the report states. “He stated more time was needed for the treasurer and personnel staff to acclimate to their job responsibilities.”

“The Gilmer County Board of Education is operating well in spite of the still somewhat dysfunctional county board and the poor relationship between some board members and the state appointed superintendent,” the audit concludes.

“Based on evidence and interviews, the OEPA Team found the current local board and state appointed superintendent will not make significant progress in relations regardless of state or local control. Differing personalities, personal agendas, and political pressure will continue to plague the improvement in superintendent/board relations. Unused school property, personnel, and the role of the local board in operations will continue to be a problem for the county,” the audit continues.

“The intention for the initial state takeover of Gilmer County Board of Education was due to improper functioning of the county board of education office,” the audit says. “This issue has been satisfactorily corrected under the state appointed superintendent and central office staff. Therefore, it is the recommendation of the OEPA that full control be returned to Gilmer County Board of Education and allow the county to determine its future operations.”

The audit notes that the Gilmer school system’s personnel department “Stated that return to local control would most likely cause the current superintendent to be removed by the local board,” and stated that it believed “the State Board should maintain control of the local board.”

While the audit notes that workers in Gilmer’s finance and curriculum offices “stated that without a strong superintendent, the board members could revert to micro-management of the system,” these employees also said Gilmer “is capable of self-management and State control needs to end,” that “the community feels that with state control, the school system is not theirs” and “the next [excess property tax] levy vote may fail if the system remains under state control.”

“The board of education office is functioning efficiently and in compliance with State code and [state board] policy,” the audit states. “Student achievement is stable and increasing.”

~~  Ryan Quinn ~~

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The lipstick comment deserves special attention. The State’s testing results verifies that too many students are not proficient in science, reading, and math. WV remains in the lower 10th among the 50 states for those areas.

Google WVZOOM Dashboard and look at State assessment scores for the GCHS. According to reports a decision was made to hire one more math teacher over there to help improve future results.

Nothing is known about what is being done to help Gilmer’s HS students with reading and science. The new Board president must get detailed information out to the public.

Assurances that everything is OK won’t work anymore. There has been too much of that type of hokum. The public knows how to access achievement information from the Internet to impose increasing accountability for our school system.

By R. J. Myers on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Maybe it is a case of not seeing the forest for the trees. GSC is designated responsibility for serving seven counties in central WV.

SAT scores for students entering GSC are the lowest in the State with large numbers of students coming from the seven counties. This suggests that education needs to be upgraded in the counties.

Why not focus on using the College to train teachers for central WV and to do what is necessary to improve pre-K-12 education in the seven counties?

Looks to be a natural winner for GSC. What about it Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors?

By Watching Alumni on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

Thanks you for honest comments, Mr. Boggs.

Its a sad state when volunteers can be credited with a better job than paid WV employees.

No wonder we have financial, legislative, highway, issues at every turn in the road. 

And to think, that the governor has to burden the National Guard with administration of a flood recovery program? 

Obvious we have incompetent individuals in many positions throughout the state bureaucracy. Are there ever, ever any state employees actually fired, for unacceptable job performance or plain incompetence?

Look at route 5 west of I-79 for a wonderful example of DOH failure.  The DOH county office is a mile from the ‘rollercoaster’ ride. All those state employees have to ride it 10, maybe 20 times a week just doing their jobs.  How can they not see it?

This rollercoaster is the ‘welcome center’ to Braxton and Gilmer county.
Its been a mess for over 20 years.  The rough, bumpy railroad tracks too.

Yes, that’s what the Gilmer Federal Prison employees who commute deal with.  It’s a great welcome, great first look, for prospective Glenville State College students and staff as well.

By A failed state of the state report. on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

What a glowing report.

Just because you say or print something, doesn’t make it true.

With a report like this, you would think WV had moved up the list from 47th in outcomes.

A few people don’t have the wool down over their eyes.

By wasted lipstick on the pig. on 07.17.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Wiseman’s suggestion is an opportunity for the new School Board officers, Mr. Cottril and Mr. Shakleford.

Both members campaigned on improvements they would make if elected. The most important improvement would be outstanding results with student learning outcomes in the County.

Quarterly progress reports from Mr. Cottril and Mr. Shackleford are requested.

By Voters For Accountability on 07.16.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Excellent meeting minutes I wish we could see more local news like this..  Where can I find information on the recent lawsuit between the Gilmer County Commission and Prosecutor Hough?  I understand Judge Alsop issued a decision?

By Reader on 07.14.2018

From the entry: 'GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES'.

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Praises go to Governor Justice, Dr. Paine, and the entire State Board for producing this outstanding report.

For the first time in memory comprehensive information is included in one source for the public and it is written in an understandable
style.

A request is made to the Gilmer County Board of Education and Superintendent Lowther to produce a similar report by this fall for the specific status of our school system.

We could celebrate achievements for which we excel and we could profit from our weak points as opportunities for corrective measures to take.

Forget about what other counties are doing—we are competing against ourselves.

The often cited excuse that we are just as good as other counties with WV ranking near bottom should no longer be tolerated.

By fall results of recent SAT testing would be available to Superintendent Lowther and the County Board to include in the report.

One advantage of the suggested County report and ones in successive years would be a basis for the public to use to judge effectiveness of Gilmer’s Board of Education and Superintendent Lowther.

The GFP is applauded for its role in being a leader in WV for making education news accessible on the Internet.

By Frank Wiseman on 07.14.2018

From the entry: 'State Superintendent of Schools Delivers the State of Education'.

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Dr. Pellett, you attacked accuracy of the NCHEMS report in your Gazette article today.

It would be informative for you to give an Internet link to the report to permit it to be read and for you to publish a detailed critique of errors in it with backup evidence as proof.

By GSC EMPLOYEE on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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A basic truism for a highly successful start up business is to offer a new top quality product in high demand at a price consumers can afford.

Why do Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors reject the concept? Specifically, as printed in the Democrat there is a proposal to establish a premiere five year teacher education program at the College with grads to receive a masters degree in teaching. A program of that type is desperately needed in WV and it is not offered elsewhere.

Word circulating is that Dr. Pellet, the Board of Governors, and dominant members of the County’s elite have summarily rejected the idea.

One excuse heard is that local power brokers do not want WVU involved with the College. Yet, in the Democrat Dr. Pellett is quoted saying that he is working on a new nursing program with WVU’s involvement.

Is the true reason of veto of the innovative teacher education program because Dr. Pellet and the Board of Governors were not originators of the idea to automatically cause its rejection?

Dr. Pellett is invited to explain to the public and concerned alumni why the program would not be in GSC’s long term best interests.

By Why Dr. Pellet and GSC BOG? on 07.13.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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The Glenville mayor is doing an excellent job and the town is lucky to have him on the job. Getting old houses torn down was a kept promise and the town looks much better at those places. Let’s have more of it.

By Citizen on 07.11.2018

From the entry: 'GLENVILLE CITY COUNCIL MINUTES'.

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Why is it that when tax dollars were spent on the higher education reorganization study by the Colorado NCHEMS group it is being keep secret from the public? Mr. Boggs how about helping out by informing voters how to get a copy of the report to read and decide for themselves?

By Voters Watching on 07.10.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Oops! Bay of Pigs not Figs. Shows that college profs are not immune to embarrassing gaffs.

By WVU Prof. on 07.09.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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There are two examples in Janis’ book regarding the Kennedy presidency. The first one deals with the group think Bay Of Figs disaster.

Those in Washington associated with invasion decisions considered themselves to be infallible world class thinkers. That mistake prevented critical and constructive review from anyone outside that tight group of political operatives.

The other example covers the Cuban Missile Crisis as an example of masterful diplomacy and planning to prevent a nuclear holocaust. President Kennedy deserved credit because he avoided group think traps from Bay Of Pigs lessons learned.

Higher education decisions in WV are made by individual tight knit Boards of Governors with excessive autonomy and no meaningful oversight.

Also, board members are there through political appointments at local levels. Governors traditionally rubber stamp the recommended appointments.

When serious group think mistakes occur at colleges and universities Boards are conditioned to assume that State bail outs will cover damages.

If private businesses are group think practitioners they never last unless they change strategies to avoid brutal market place penalties.

By WVU Political Scientist on 07.08.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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“Governance Changes Needed at GSC” is 100% correct.

Basically GSC Board of Governors and other leadership positions, have been a result of nepotism and crony friend choices.

Those two ‘tools’ rarely, if ever, give the best persons available to whatever the position requires.

Incest often produces less than desired outcomes as well.

By PAST Time for change @ GSC on 07.08.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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Advice for GSC’s president is to read Janis’book entitled Victims of Group Think.

The theme for the book is that alike thinkers of a group of elites in control can have colossal failures because they believe that their decision-making processes are unworthy of outside scrutiny.

Think about it. Did the airport to accommodate jet traffic at the mouth of Cedar Creek work out and did the federal prison result in economic prosperity with a hefty upsurge with GSC’s
enrollment?

What about the millions of dollars of new construction at GSC? Did it result in healthy enrollments as promised.

Some elites associated with GSC were strong advocates for the ill fated ventures.

GSC has been controlled too long by members of the same families. With the undeniable track record of declining conditions a few resignations would be a positive step.

The nagging governance problem affecting GSC has been shielding elite individuals from personal accountability without penalties for bad decisions.

By Governance Changes Needed At GSC on 07.06.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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Bigger is better? Rarely.

Everyone knows that school consolidation has resulted in failed outcomes.

This is laying the ground work, for an ego driven power grab.  The big institutions have no limit to their desire for money.

Stay small, and if failure occurs, fewer people are impacted.  Too large, and management of that soon turns into a problem.

By Its just planned failure. on 07.05.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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This information including details in the referenced full Report helps put GSC’s precarious standing in perspective. More information can be accessed at http://www.collegesimply.com.

That web site provides SAT student information for WV institutions of higher learning and GSC has the lowest scores.

Inferences from the scores and material in the report are that because GSC gets a large percentage of students from poor counties including Gilmer County, school systems there need improving.

Also, with employers becoming more sophisticated in hiring the best qualified graduates they access information of the type published on the web site given above.

The reason is that institutions with the best prepared students have more rigorous academic programs and they do not have to expend valuable time on remediation.

Provision of this comment is not intended to be a slam at GSC. The purpose is to encourage Dr. Pellett and the Board of Governors to devise a viable strategy for making the College a center of excellence to improve its standing in WV. It is that simple for guaranteed survival in the future.

By GSC GRAD on 07.05.2018

From the entry: 'Report recommends merging Bluefield, Concord, Glenville, WVSU boards'.

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We must be wary of how County K-12 achievement information is presented.

From the outset the new school board should focus on exactly how well our students are performing with mastering subjects, and not to fall victim to news unrelated to demonstrated student learning.

For one example the GCHS was awarded for its high graduation rate, but it ranked in the bottom 10% among WV high schools for college and career readiness of seniors.

This is not to say that graduation rates are unimportant, but they cannot be interpreted as fact of a direct relationship with how well students are prepared for college and careers.

For some schools an unusually high graduation rate could be a function of enforced “everyone passes” policy.

The point is that there is need for vigilance when student performance information is disclosed to the public so school board get all of it out so voters can decide where the County’s school system really stands.

By Give All Facts on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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Word is that officers on the County’s school board have changed with Doug Cottrill becoming the new president and Shackleford the VP.

Voters request to know what the new board’s plans are for improving the County’s standing with the quality of K-12 education for math, reading, science, and other subjects, and correcting remaining problems at the new grade school contractors have not fixed.

Why not publishing monthly progress reports to cover the new board’s accomplishments? That job would be a good assignment for the new president.

By Voters Watching on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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There is no mention of the facts Jumpin Jim defaulted on a 9 million dollar loan, poor record of paying taxes, nor the mess of the RISE flood funds handling. 

No wonder the poor score.  Anyone think it was ‘earned’?

By Jumpin Jim Nose Dives on 07.03.2018

From the entry: 'Low favorable marks for Manchin, Morrisey, Justice in latest PPP poll'.

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This news has great implications for GSC and Gilmer County. The College could form a partnership with the County’s school system to close the K-12 achievement gap.

For years while under State intervention it was denied that a gap existed, and the mantra was that the County was doing as well as the State as a whole.

That was like saying that we are OK with the State being ranked near the bottom for the quality of its K-12 education system and we should be content to wallow at the bottom too.

Ms. Patty Lowther, the new superintendent of schools, states that we must close the K-12 achievement gap and it is within the County’s capabilities.

She and her staff including Shelly Mason the new curriculum expert, principals, and the County’s teachers are actively involved with devising solutions to eliminate problems.

Regarding GSC, Dr. Pellett is on record with definite innovations to improve the College’s standing.

He has an unique opportunity to guide the College to contribute to Gilmer County having the best school system in WV as a model to emulate throughout the State and Appalachia.

In the past the typical Charleston trap has been to collect achievement data without expending successful efforts to interpret its meaning for use in solving under-achievement.

Dr. Pellett, Ms. Lowther, and Shelly Mason, with the help of other professionals in our schools can jettison that long standing road block to make Gilmer County a K-12 education standout.

Dr. Pellett in particular has an unparalleled opportunity to make his mark on guiding the College to improve K-12 education in the County and to let successes spread as examples throughout Appalachia.

There would not be a better way to justify the necessity of the College’s continuing existence for Gilmer County, central WV, and the entire State.

By Good News For WV on 06.29.2018

From the entry: 'Governor Justice Announces Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education'.

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If you can’t trust judges to do the right thing…. is there any reason to trust our whole system of government?  One has to wonder.

Now we are reading a judge likely to be impeached as well as the legislature is considering impeaching the governor?

Are the any honest people running for offices?

By crooks everywhere? on 06.27.2018

From the entry: 'Auditors Seek Answers on State Supreme Court Spending'.

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This does not rise to the level of impeachment. “Slick Willy” got a head job in the peoples oval office, and dripped semen on the peoples carpet then lied about it, and according to the democrats back then, that did not rise to the level of impeachment.

By The Silent Majority on 06.21.2018

From the entry: 'Senate and House Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Immediate Legislative Action on Justice Loughry'.

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Something happening is good.
That building has been empty far too long.

Now we shall see if it workable.
Hope for all involved, that their efforts work out for GC and GSC.

By Good on 06.21.2018

From the entry: 'GSC Bluegrass Music Education Center to hold Ribbon Cutting Ceremony'.

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Numbers of new businesses is not the important factor. It is how many new jobs were created for local employees. Politicians like to cite meaningless numbers to crow about and they get by with it too often. Empty store fronts on Main Street have not diminished in numbers. Where are the jobs and what do they pay?

By New Jobs? on 06.20.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Similar to EDA if Gilmer’s SAT results were rosy the news would be out in banner headlines. Elites see to it to keep peasants at bay.

By SAT Checker on 06.19.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Straddlin Joe had a chance to embrace conservatism and convert to Republican, as Governor Justice and much of the state has done. Politics in the state are no longer ruled by mine union bosses. It’s time we send him back to Marion County, as we did with Natalie Tennant.

By The Silent Majority on 06.18.2018

From the entry: 'Joe Manchin: Political games would cost West Virginians with pre-existing conditions'.

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If the so called business creation were true?
Wouldn’t the EDA be having all sorts of news releases?
You would think so.

EDA used to have monthly public meetings.
Now only four times a year?

Business things that slim nothing to discuss?
Or maybe secret meetings by the insiders?

By Gilmer EDA...private club ? on 06.15.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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If we can ask Jeff Campbell questions as a Gilmer County official why can’t we get timely information from other officials too?

For an example how did the County do with recent SAT testing?

Superintendents have the information so when is it going to be made public?

Hopefully the newly elected school board will take it on as a priority to get accurate student achievement information to the public with specific plans to make improvements where needed.

By End Public Information Embargo on 06.13.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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If true, this would be great news!

The Gilmer County Economic Development Association should be telling us in press releases who/what/where those new businesses are?

How about it GCEDA President Jeff Campbell?

Lets hear from you.

By reader6 on 06.11.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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Interesting chart.

But….it shows 4 new businesses in Gilmer…..in each of the past 3 months.
That…..is TWELVE new businesses!

BUT, BUT, where are they?

By Where are they? on 06.08.2018

From the entry: '866 New Businesses in West Virginia for May 2018'.

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You will find most ticks down low on grass blades along well traveled trails, where the unfed adults and even larvae and eggs are brushed off by a passing varmint. Another myth is that ticks will jump on you, of the thousands of ticks I have picked off grass blades and dropped in a cup of gasoline, I have never had one jump at me.

By Trespasser Will on 06.08.2018

From the entry: 'Insect-related illnesses are trending up'.

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Ticks don’t go, they are carried there by host animals. They are best controlled by controlling the host varmints in your back yard. As bad as Lyme disease is, from personal experience, believe me you don’t want Rocky Mountain spotted fever either.

By Trespasser Will on 06.07.2018

From the entry: 'Insect-related illnesses are trending up'.

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NEWS FLASH !
Rural West Virginia is STILL WAITING for that high speed internet that these two have been promising for 20 years!

By Rural WV still waiting.... on 06.06.2018

From the entry: 'U.S. Senators Manchin, Capito announce funding for rural communities'.

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Dilapidated buildings seem to make the news on a regular basis.

Dilapidated buildings are nothing more than an great indicator of a ‘dilapidated’ economy.

By WV's dilapidated economy on 06.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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I don’t know how the state can say that, male bears have been known to attack for unknown reasons, and of course females will attack if they perceive their cub is in danger. The best thing to do is shut the #### up and don’t be posting on Facebook what you have done.

By Tresspasser Will on 06.03.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia man accused of wrongfully shooting bear'.

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Steve and John,
My deepest heartfelt sympathy to you at this most difficult time.
I will miss your mother, my best friend, immensely! We laughed hard together and we cried together, only as two close cousins could do! We spent many hours on the phone chatting either catching up or talking about cooking, any hour day or night,it never mattered to us.

Our words to each other every time we spoke, “I love you sweet cousin of mine”

God’s Speed until we meet again!💞💓
Rest In Peace for eternity💓

Love you dearly,

Cousin, Jo Ann xoxoxo

By Jo Ann Emrick on 06.01.2018

From the entry: 'Catherine Ann Umanetz'.

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The loss of money at Cedar Creek was only part of it. Money spent on Leading Creek, more money to fill the huge hole at GCES, money to fix land slide at GCES because of poor site design work, money spent to fix various other botches that should have been done right to begin with, uncalled for huge pay raises to select central office staff to buy them off, money for playground equipment when existing equipment could have been used, money for an unneeded payroll clerk at the central office, money for a principal at Troy when the individual did not do the work, and more to include building GCES too small and Leading Creek too large with public funds. Will anything be done about it? Of course not except to continue the cover-up. Money trail too hot to handle.

By Etched Memory on 05.31.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Many kudos to both the PACF people as well as their supporters!

Hard to believe how much good they are doing for so many, in just a few short years!

Keep up the good works!

By many kudos ! on 05.31.2018

From the entry: 'Grants Support Area Charities (Little Kanawha Area)'.

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Minney was just another ‘enabler’ for the blatant, bold faced, incompetent, corruption during the West Virginia State Board of Education overthrow of the Gilmer County School System.

Thousands of dollars wasted.  Do not forget the Cedar Creek property chosen by State Appointed Superintendent Blankenship in coercion with the former, ousted, GSC President Simmons.  The money spent clearing forest, the money spent bulldozing a road, until it finally became clear, they were on a ‘fools errand’.

Then to get out of that mess, Blankenship and Simmons,  trade that property, so a school could be built in a flood plain?

‘Education’ and common sense do not always go hand in hand.

If only people were as smart as they think they are.

By Another black eye for state intervention ! on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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All this Minney stuff brings up at least 2 questions:

WHY did state appointed super Devano hire Minney?

Why did the Doddridge folks hire Minney when he doesn’t have the required financial ‘credentials’ to be a district treasurer?

Either poor hiring practices or someone pulling strings.

By questions but no answers ? on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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And to think that OUR own little Gilmer County Library ranks in the top ten of libraries in the whole state!

By WOW--WOW--WOW ! ! ! on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'West Virginia Libraries Rock Out with Summer Reading Programs'.

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Didn’t Mr. Minney approve paying select employees on payroll, for the days they did not work without board or superintendent’s knowledge or approval? Fortunately, he got caught by the board.

By Ridiculous on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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If you follow the money, you can easily see where all the money went in construction of Gilmer Elementary, why the school has so many physical issues and why there have been problems to get them fixed. Thanks the board for choosing a different auditor.

By FTM on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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There were a lot of corruptions under state control and superintendent Devano. They mismanaged funds and paid off several employees to keep their mouth shut. When the local controlled board chose a different auditor from the norm, they got caught. I think the remaining paid off employees need to talk the facts, quit, or get prosecuted.

By They were bad on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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That was far from the first time Mr. DM had gotten into trouble with the auditors. In previous years, findings for mismanagement of funds were issued against him in connection with other work places leading to dismissal.
The audit which is available on state DOE site couldn’t find any justification of board approval for payments, and mismanagement of funds.

By Don LK on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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He got caught of mismanagement of public funds.

By Jeremy D on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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I hear Gilmer schools treasurer Dan Minney is leaving. Why?

By Just Curious on 05.30.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Good to see this program return after having it gone missing under the state appointed superintendent.

It was reported there was no place for it to take place.

Thank you Gilmer County Board of Education for making it happen.

By Some remember on 05.21.2018

From the entry: 'FREE breakfast and lunch this summer for Gilmer County Kids'.

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Pam,
Sorry to read of your mom’s passing. I remember may times spent in your home with your parents and brothers. Sending love and prayers to you and your brothers.
Sherry Broggi

By Sherry Straley Broggi and Rita Straley on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'Lora Faye Tomblin'.

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Really cool project to all who volunteered and those helping financially as well!

Where’s DR? He never misses these events?

By Very nice project - great volunteers! on 05.17.2018

From the entry: 'CommunityImprovement™: Pavilion'.

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The GSC retention post must relate to those beginning in 2014 who planned for 4 year degrees and they dropped out. There probably were students who began in 2014 and they earned 2 year degrees before 2018 so they were not drop outs.

By GSC RETENTION? on 05.15.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Congratulations kids!  Setting up a scholarship fund is a GREAT idea! Where can we get information on who to contact and what local needs are?

By Reader on 05.14.2018

From the entry: 'Calhoun-Gilmer Career Center Celebrates Seniors'.

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How large was GSC’s graduating class of 2018 last week and what was its original size the fall of 2014?

Accurate information should be available to indicate retention. One news source reported that 100 graduated in the class of 2018.

By Alumni on 05.13.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Some interesting results.  Should shake the trees a little.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.09.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Local Election Results - May 2018'.

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So sorry for your loss.  Prayers.

By Betty Woofter on 05.07.2018

From the entry: 'Ina Mae (Foster) Clem'.

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Anyone interested in facts for graduation rates after four years of college can access information on WV’s Education Policy Commission web site.

The last time information was reported WV State was listed at 13.6% compared to WVU’s at 35.9%. GSC was at 25.1%.

Comments submitted so far flag a serious problem in WV. Student achievement information is scattered all over with it being reported by the State, the federal government, and testing organizations including ACT.

Because WV lacks an effective State clearing house to sort through the information and to interpret it for practical application in improving our pubic school systems, too much important quality control material is neglected.

When citizens take initiative to obtain the information and they cite it they are often berated to be a form of “attack the messenger”.

Then too there are the perennial apologists who say that everything is “just fine” to help confuse the issue even more to detract from school improvements.

By WVDE Career Employees on 05.06.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Too often students have to go an extra year or longer to graduate from college with under graduate degrees because they were not prepared when they got there to enable them to complete on time.

The 35% graduation rate includes incoming freshmen who do not finish in four years, and it is factual that some of our public colleges have worse records than others.

WVU does above average, but it has large numbers of-out-of state better prepared students.

By R. Page on 05.06.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Rex Page claims we have a college graduation rate of approximately 35%.

In essence that is a FAILURE rate of 65% !

Think of how many dollars are wasted, and how many students are burdened with student loans, that basically will do them little good in life.

Oh yes.  It does pump money into the flawed system.

By Wv Has a FLAWED educational system ! on 05.05.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Even with enrolling in colleges where acceptance is noncompetitive, meaning that all applicants with at least C averages are accepted, the graduation rate to get a degree is around 35%.

This fact is more evidence for WV’s failed public education system and solid proof that a major top to bottom over haul is needed.

If we accept the often cited excuse that there is a problem with kids and their families to cause under achievement in school that line of reasoning suggests that West Virginians are inherently flawed. This is untrue and the problem lies with WV’s under performing education system.

By Rex Page on 05.03.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Disgraceful that WV lacks a top quality education system to prepare more high school graduates to be eligible for acceptance into the best colleges where there is competition for acceptance.

The deficiency forces students to attend lower tier places where everyone is accepted.

Why does WV fail to make improvements? It is because education delivery in our State is designed to be void of meaningful accountability for administrators.

By WVDE Watcher on 05.03.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Little doubt the block schedule system at the high school gives GC lower scores.

This has been proven over and over in other school systems.

Its an out dated and antiquated system.  Our board of education needs to get rid of it.

Gilmer County Board of Education….are you up to the job?

By Block Schedule Supported By Blockheads on 05.02.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Hopefully this is the beginning of doing better with getting out school news to Gilmer. It is far better to read timely news than to have to go to the Cornerstone to get it.

We wish Mr. Shuff the best in improving learning results at the HS. If he tackles problems like he engaged in athletics the HS will be put on the map for academic excellence.

When he gets his school improvement plan together everyone in the County will pitch in to help him succeed. Thank you GCBOE.

By Pleased Parents on 05.02.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education News'.

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Mr. Williams has it nailed down.  Solid.

America’s entire education system is a farce.
Education administrators worry about their job than worry about the children.

Youth is our future.
By creating dummies, do not expect much of a future.

The children are being short changed, robbed.
America is being short changed, robbed.

But the failed administrators keep their jobs.

By Time To Clean the Education House! on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Is this article some sort of a joke ?
Certainly would seem so!

We are almost daily bombarded with chemical spraying from above.
We rarely actually have that clear, deep blue sky that God gave us.

If it happens we do get a clear(?) day, we will have the light blue, almost whispy white cloud sky.

Set a white bowl out in the rains.  Check to see what color the water is after a rain.  You will be
surprised.  Color will vary depending what is being sprayed on a given day.

If it were winter, I’d tell you to look at the snowflakes.  No more are all snowflakes different.  Watch what falls on your clothing, you will see 1,000’s of flakes all the same shape.  Again, depends what toxic material we are being blasted with.

Asthma attacks, ER visits are on the rise.
Do some web searching, plenty of websites report this travesty.  You tax dollars at ‘work’.

By WHERE ARE THE ENVIRONMENTALISTS ? ? on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Air Quality Awareness Week is April 30 – May 04'.

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Fraud is not only rampant in education, it consumes Gilmer County..  Those who Have want to keep it any and all costs, and those that don’t, want.  Gilmer needs a good house cleaning of court and legal ‘authorities’ as well if anything is Ever going to change.

By Spring cleaning! on 05.01.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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Fraud is committed in Gilmer County when citizens are told that our high school grads are prepared to be highly competitive for entry into the modern world.

The misinformation conflicts with verification that our grads lag when it comes to being college and career ready.

By being disadvantaged academically too many students drop out of college when they cannot compete and they often must go an extra year at a greater expense to catch-up.

There is another type of fraud not pointed out in the posting. It relates to bragging about the “fine” ACT test scores made by students at the GCHS.

For the ACT the average GCHS score as touted by school officials is close to 20. This may be slightly higher than average State scores, but here is the rub.

Our kids could not get accepted into top quality colleges and universities with stringent academic requirements to include those for ACT scores higher than most made at the GCHS.

What do they do? They attend institutions with relaxed acceptance criteria with some not having any basic requirements for ACT or SAT scores.

As a parent with a son at the Career Center I know that there must be remedial instruction in math and English for success in chosen career fields. It is called embedded instruction.

Because teachers must be hired at the Center for the catch-up it means that tax payers are paying twice (more fraud) for instruction that should have been done at the GCHS!

What can we do? Gilmer County must determine what must be done in our schools to make necessary improvements for the better to enable our kids to be the best they can be after HS. Simple isn’t it?

By We Want Better Schools on 04.30.2018

From the entry: 'Education system perpetuates fraud at every level'.

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It is easy to see through the motive for avoiding application of the same assessment approach in all of WV’s school systems.

The powerful in control do not want to make achievement results available for voters to compare academic results among districts!

That way opportunities for more accountability in ways school systems are administered will be nipped in the bud.

Interesting isn’t it that for sports minute attention is paid to comparing performances of all kinds of teams throughout WV.

Unfortunately the strategy will be to keep voters keenly focused on sports so they will not ask questions about education spending and how children are doing in mastering subjects in our school systems.

By WVDOE Disgusted on 04.20.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: State might let counties switch standardized test from SAT to ACT'.

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The West Virginia State Board of Education has operated as a “pin the tail on the donkey” bureaucratic nightmare for over a generation.

Currently, it is hard to envision any positive change in their SOP?

Try this, try that.  Change this, change that.
Continual evidence that all is being run as an experiment?
The WVBOE has no real clue what to actually do, in order to fix anything.

Money wasted. Children cheated of a good education.
Parents and taxpayers cheated.  Opportunities missed.

This is the WVBOE legacy.

By State BOE - dysfunctional is an understatement? on 04.16.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: State might let counties switch standardized test from SAT to ACT'.

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Maybe Jimmy can pay some of his tax bills now?

By Justice, pay your tax bills! on 04.15.2018

From the entry: 'City to purchase club owned by the governor’s company'.

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Reread the article and see what a wonderful set of excuses have been set forward.

Taxpayers give the state the funds for education.  It is then properly squandered leaving students with substandard educations.

These people have the audacity to blame the teachers on top of it.

State BOE, suck it up, fix the problem you and your previous board members have created. 

Make President Truman’s desk saying your motto:  “The buck stops here.“

That is, if you are up to it.

By Kanawha Reader on 04.15.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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West Virginia made national news again with its spending per student to be in the top third among the 55 states.

We spend more than $11,000 on average per pupil in our public schools. For comparison Utah spends about $6,500 per pupil and it ranks in the top third for the quality of its education system.

It would be interesting to know how much Gilmer County spends per pupil counting total funding from all sources.

WV is certainly no way near the top third with getting students college, career, and jobs ready right out of high school. Where is all our money going? What could we learn from rural states similar to Utah?

The worst culprit seems to be too many high paid people on WV payrolls who are non-contributers to making better lives for our kids.

By Economist on 04.14.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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Those of us who keep close tabs on student achievement want to know reasons for unacceptable reading, science, and math scores in Gilmer County and what is being done to correct them. For something this important the problems and solutions surely have been looked into.

By R. A. Beasley on 04.14.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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HaHaHaHaHaHaHa!

By Don't bring them to Gilmer! on 04.13.2018

From the entry: 'NEW “ALMOST HEAVEN” CAMPAIGN'.

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No matter what is going on in the State our concern is Gilmer County. The State reports on Zoom that 10th graders at the GCHS perform at the 35.9% proficiency rate for science.

Proficiency for 11th graders is 37% in math and it is commendable that the rate for them for reading is 64%.

What is being done to make improvements for science and math when students are about ready to graduate from HS? We hope that scores for reading hold up and even improve.

Why do we fail to receive updates for plans for proficiency improvements in the County’s schools?

In other WV counties superintendents provide that type of information on a routine basis.

By GCHS Parents on 04.12.2018

From the entry: 'State board members react to national test results'.

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