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Missing Pet

The Free Press WV

Zoe is a 14 year old white shepherd.

She can’t hear and her vision is failing.

She’s skittish due to this.

She was last seen in Cedarville on Saturday, December 1st.

She was walking towards the Chapel/Normantown area.

There is a $100 reward to anyone that finds her even if she is deceased.

Please contact Heather at 304,462,7443 with any information.

Wild Game is a Nutritional, Natural Source of Protein

The Free Press WV

West Virginia’s abundance of wildlife and hunting seasons provides opportunities for many families to fill their freezers with highly nutritious wild game.

Wild game provides a low-fat, high-protein alternative to beef or other commercial meats. For example, white-tailed deer (venison) contains fewer calories and approximately five times less fat than the equivalent serving of beef.

“Wild game that is legally harvested during one of West Virginia’s hunting seasons provides a healthy source of protein for many West Virginians,“ said Tyler Evans, wildlife biologist with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. “Many West Virginians incorporate venison, wild turkey and other wild game into their diets on a regular basis.“

Hunters and their families are not the only West Virginians who benefit from the state’s abundant supply of wild game. The DNR-sponsored Hunters Helping the Hungry (HHH) Program processes deer for needy families and individuals in the Mountain State.

Since the program’s inception in 1992, approximately 979,549 pounds of venison have been donated. In 2017 alone, 554 deer (19,702 pounds of nutritious venison) were donated to the HHH Program and contributed to approximately 26,269 family-style meals.

For more information about the Hunters Helping the Hungry Program, please visit the DNR website at www.wvdnr.gov or call the DNR district office in French Creek (304.924.6211).

Trump’s rollback of pollution rules to hit coal country hard

The Free Press WV

It’s coal people like miner Steve Knotts, 62, who make West Virginia Trump Country.

So it was no surprise that President Donald Trump picked the state to announce his plan rolling back Obama-era pollution controls on coal-fired power plants.

Trump left one thing out of his remarks, though: northern West Virginia coal country will be ground zero for increased deaths and illnesses from the rollback on regulation of harmful emission from the nation’s coal power plants.

An analysis done by his own Environmental Protection Agency concludes that the plan would lead to a greater number of people here dying prematurely, and suffering health problems that they otherwise would not have, than elsewhere in the country, when compared to health impacts of the Obama plan.

Knotts, a coal miner for 35 years, isn’t fazed when he hears that warning, a couple of days after Trump’s West Virginia rally. He says the last thing people in coal country want is the government slapping down more controls on coal — and the air here in the remote West Virginia mountains seems fine to him.

“People here have had it with other people telling us what we need. We know what we need. We need a job,” Knotts said at lunch hour at a Circle K in a tiny town between two coal mines, and 9 miles down the road from a coal power plant, the Grant Town plant.

The sky around Grant Town is bright blue. The mountains are a dazzling green. Paw Paw Creek gurgles past the town.

The Free Press WV


Clean-air controls since the 1980s largely turned off the columns of black soot that used to rise from coal smokestacks. The regulations slashed the national death rates from coal-fired power plants substantially.

These days pollutants rise from smoke stacks as gases, before solidifying into fine particles — still invisible — small enough to pass through lungs and into bloodstreams.

An EPA analysis says those pollutants would increase under Trump’s plan, when compared to what would happen under the Obama plan. And that, it says, would lead to thousands more heart attacks, asthma problems and other illnesses that would not have occurred.

Nationally, the EPA says, 350 to 1,500 more people would die each year under Trump’s plan. But it’s the northern two-thirds of West Virginia and the neighboring part of Pennsylvania that would be hit hardest, by far, according to Trump’s EPA.

Trump’s rollback would kill an extra 1.4 to 2.4 people a year for every 100,000 people in those hardest-hit areas, compared to under the Obama plan, according to the EPA analysis. For West Virginia’s 1.8 million people, that would be equal to at least a couple dozen additional deaths a year.

Trump’s acting EPA administrator, Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist whose grandfather worked in the coal camps of West Virginia, headed to coal states this week and last to promote Trump’s rollback. The federal government’s retreat on regulating pollution from coal power plants was “good news,” Wheeler told crowds there.

In Washington, EPA spokesman Michael Abboud said Trump’s plan still would result in “dramatic reductions” in emissions, deaths and illness compared to the status quo, instead of to the Obama plan. Obama’s Clean Power Plan targeted climate-changing carbon dioxide, but since coal is the largest source of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels, the Obama plan would have curbed other harmful emissions from the coal-fired power plants as well.

About 160 miles to the south of Grant Town, near the state capital of Charleston, shop owner Doris Keller figures that if Trump thinks something’s for the best, that’s good enough for her.

“I just know this. I like Donald Trump and I think that he’s doing the right thing,” said Keller, who turned out to support Trump Aug. 21 when he promoted his rollback proposal. She lives five miles from the 2,900-megawatt John Amos coal-fired power plant.

“I think he has the best interests of the regular common people at the forefront,” Keller says.

Trump’s Affordable Clean Energy program would dismantle President Barack Obama’s 2015 Clean Power Plan, which has been caught up in court battles without yet being implemented.

The Obama plan targeted climate-changing emissions from power plants, especially coal. It would have increased federal regulation of emissions from the nation’s electrical grid and broadly promoted natural gas, solar power and other cleaner energy.

Trump’s plan would cede much of the federal oversight of existing coal-fired power plants and drop official promotion of cleaner energy. Individual states largely would decide how much to regulate coal power plants in their borders. The plan is open for public review, ahead of any final White House decision.

“I’m getting rid of some of these ridiculous rules and regulations, which are killing our companies ... and our jobs,” Trump said at the rally.

There was no mention of the “small increases” in harmful emissions that would result, compared to the Obama plan, or the health risks.

EPA charts put numbers on just how many more people would die each year because of those increased coal emissions.

Abboud and spokeswoman Ashley Bourke of the National Mining Association, which supports Trump’s proposed regulatory rollback on coal emissions, said other federal programs already regulate harmful emissions from coal power plants. Bourke also argued that the health studies the EPA used in its death projections date as far back as the 1970s, when coal plants burned dirtier.

In response, Conrad Schneider of the environmental nonprofit Clean Air Task Force said the EPA’s mortality estimates had taken into account existing regulation of plant emissions.

Additionally, health studies used by the EPA looked at specific levels of exposure to pollutants and their impact on human health, so remain constant over time, said Schneider, whose group analyzes the EPA projections.

With competition from natural gas and other cleaner energy helping to kill off more than a third of coal jobs over the last decade, political leaders in coal states are in no position to be the ones charged with enforcing public-health protections on surviving coal-fired power plants, said Vivian Stockman of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

“Our state is beholden to coal. Our politicians are beholden to coal,” Stockman said outside Trump’s West Virginia rally, where she was protesting. “Meanwhile, our people are being poisoned.”

And when it comes to coal power plants and harm, Schneider said, “when you’re at Grant Town, you’re at Ground Zero.”

Retired coal miner Jim Haley, living 4 miles from the town’s coal-fired power plant, has trouble telling from the smokestack when the plant is even operating.

“They’ve got steam coming out of the chimneys. That’s all they have coming out of it,” Haley said.

Parked near the Grant Town post office, where another resident was rolling down the quiet main street on a tractor, James Perkins listened to word of the EPA’s health warnings. He cast a look into the rear-view mirror into the backseat of his pickup truck, at his 3-year-old grandson, sitting in the back.

“They need to make that safe,” said Perkins, a health-care worker who had opted not to follow his father into the coal mines. “People got little kids.”

WVDA Suggests Tips to Avoid Ticks

The Free Press WV

As of July 16th, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) have confirmed Haemaphysalis longicornis or longhorned tick’s presence in the following West Virginia counties:

  • Tyler
  • Taylor
  • Hardy
  • Ritchie
  • Putnam
  • Lincoln
  • Monroe
  • Marion
  • Mason

While there has not been any reported spread of diseases from these ticks, prevention and preparation are key to keeping everyone safe.

To help ensure safety, the West Virginia Department of Agriculture (WVDA) suggests following five tips to avoid tick bites and contact with ticks:

  1. Use insect repellent with at least 20% DEET; apply to clothes and shoes.

  2. Buy permethrin treated clothing or treat your clothes with permethrin.

  3. Avoid piles of leaves and tall grasses.

  4. Check your body and your pet’s body every 2-3 hours if you or they have been in areas with tall grass.

  5. Different animals require different repellent. Don’t treat cattle with the same repellent you would treat your lambs or your dogs.

“At this point, we believe the longhorned tick has invaded every county in the Mountain State. As we continue to confirm its presence, we want everyone to be safe and take precautions when they are in wooded areas,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “It is important to protect our livestock and animals, as well as ourselves.”

If you find a suspected longhorned tick on your person or your animals, please contact the WVDA Animal Health Division at 304.558.2214 or your local veterinarian.

For questions about tickborne diseases or more information about how to prevent ticks on people, please call DHHR’s Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at 304.558.5358, extension 1, or visit http://dhhr.wv.gov/oeps/disease/Zoonosis/Tick/Pages/default.aspx.

The Free Press WV

WV Kids Count Shows Education, Economic Gains Worrying Trends

West Virginia has one of the nation’s highest rates of children with access to health care
The Free Press WV

West Virginia children have seen some progress in economic and especially in education indicators, according to the latest KIDS COUNT Data Book.

There are better numbers since 2010 in teen births, family housing costs and the percent of teens not in school or work.

Observers tie some of this to a better economy.

But Stephen Smith, director of the West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, says parents are also getting better organized at the Legislature.

“Over the last five or 10 years, children and families themselves involved in the political process,” he states. “And as a result you do see advances in expanding school breakfast programs, fighting for and achieving raising the minimum wage.“

The data book reports better education numbers for the state, but also worse numbers for single parent families and children living in high poverty neighborhoods.

Kids Count ranks West Virginia at 40th overall.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation puts out Kids Count. Laura Speer, the foundation’s associate director for policy reform and advocacy, says the organization is worried about the upcoming census.

She says hundreds of federal programs use census data to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

Speer says more and more young children have been missed by the census each time over the last 40 years.

“All people, including kids, have the right to be counted and represented,” she stresses. “But without any real political or economic power, kids rely on adults to protect and advocate for them, and they can’t fill out the census forms.“

Speer says the 2020 census outreach faces challenges from a lack of leadership, a first ever-digital survey, and the possible lowered participation due to a citizenship question.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

She says this is likely to land hardest on poor and minority communities.

Medical Marijuana Proposed As Partial PEIA Solution

The Free Press WV

Stats from states that have legalized medical marijuana suggest legal weed could be a big help to West Virginia’s strained Public Employees Insurance Agency.

Striking teachers recently demanded better funding for their health insurance. And by one estimate, a working medical marijuana program could save PEIA $18 million to $30 million a year in pharmaceutical costs.

Rusty Williams is the patient advocate on the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. He said a survey of states that have legalized medical marijuana showed a sharp drop in Medicaid drug spending.

“They’re seeing a collective annual savings of $156 billion,” Williams said. “People are opting to pay out-of-pocket for cannabis rather than have their insurance pay for pharmaceuticals.“

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and is still regarded as a dangerous drug by many in state politics.

Advocates say PEIA needs at least $50 million a year. Gov. Jim Justice is expected to put forward a PEIA proposal any day.

According to advocates, decriminalization also would boost the economy and state revenues. On a human level, they point to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finding states with legal medical cannabis saw an average 25 percent reduction in opiate overdoses.

Williams said there are patients in desperate need of relief.

“I hear from people all the time - parents with kids with epilepsy, senior citizens who would love to be getting off of some of these pharmaceutical pain-management drugs,” he said. “We have patients in the state of West Virginia that will be dead before this is implemented.“

Banking rules are actually the bottleneck. To get a medical marijuana program under way, West Virginia would have to find a bank or credit union willing to work with marijuana businesses. But the U.S. Department of Justice has threatened any bank that does so with money-laundering charges.

Supporters call that an empty threat, saying Congress has passed protections against such actions.

More information on the state’s medical cannabis program is available at medcanWV.org.

~~  Dan Hayman ~~

What a great crew to work with a great project

The Free Press WV

What a great crew to work with and many thanks to Aimee Figgatt who brought her Soil Tunnel Trailer to Leading Creek Grade School for the day.

The entire school was able to go through the trailer plus have a short class room session on soil instructed by Kelley Sponaugle, A Soil Scientist.

Thanks to Farm Bureau, Wes-Mon-Ty, and WF Conservation.

Larry Sponaugle Conservation Supervisor, Chester Sholes, Aimee Figgatt, Jane Collins Conservation Supervisor, Ann and Pat Nestor.

A hard working group

Healthier School Lunch Choices: A Worthy Investment for WV

The Free Press WV

Public officials are tasked with ensuring programs are efficiently using public dollars while maximizing services. As budgets tighten, these programs are vetted under extreme scrutiny to determine worth. Due to elections, most elected officials look for the quickest return on investments when prioritizing initiatives. Policies that take years to reach fruition are often overlooked; voters expect results now. As attention spans have decreased and expectations have risen, it has resulted in policies becoming shorter sighted. A shining example that did not contemplate future consequences was the decision to take fresh, healthy foods out of our school systems.

Given the recent discussions surrounding the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), we must examine practices within West Virginia state agencies that are contributing to the rise of healthcare costs in West Virginia. This is paramount as our state budget continues to grow despite agencies seeing cuts year after year. Services within these entities are being pushed to the wayside to pay for the increase cost of caring for our citizens. Therefore, the state’s health care bill is putting a strain on all government agencies. Obesity, the drug epidemic and an aging population are the main contributors for the inflated burden.

Elected officials are already focused on combating the drug epidemic, while attracting young people to the state to replace our older generations in the workforce. However, the same effort is not being put towards to solving the rising obesity crisis in the Mountain State. Policies implemented in the past have created an artificial preference for processed foods at state institutions. This is due to a decision to rid schools of actual kitchens and the cooks who staffed them. In lieu of this, schools opt for highly processed foods that can be heated and served instead of prepared, fresh. The healthier food options have been replaced with high sugar, low-nutritional value counterparts contributing to some of the worst health issues in the nation. In what looked to be a small savings at the time, in reality has had dire consequences on our population.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, children consume up to 50 percent of their daily calories at school. At the same time, obesity rates have risen 4.5% in the last 20 years, according to the CDC and Prevention’s National Health Nutrition Examination Survey. This clearly shows, obesity is an increasing problem for our children. A study, New School Meal Regulations Increase Fruit Consumption and Do Not Increase Total Plate Waste, found when kids were given healthier choices, they ate more food while throwing less away. School Lunch Quality and Academic Performance found a modest increase in tests scores of children whose lunches were replaced with healthier options. We can see that the food served in our schools has a huge correlation to overall health and academic performance of students.

As health care costs continue to rise, our state has an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past. We need to focus on future generations, instilling healthy habits at an early age. This must include expanding opportunities for state institutions to source healthier, local foods from West Virginia farmers. Current practices clearly have costed the state more money in the long run, as well as taking economic opportunities from the local producer. If we can reverse course, the state will see a drop in health care costs while creating opportunities for economic growth. We should no longer continue to make decisions based on short term savings without considering long term consequences. At the end of the day, our children deserve better and this is simply the right thing to do for West Virginia.

Sources:

www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/index.htm
online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1089/chi.2015.0019
www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/analysis/2016/04/06/healthy-school-lunches-can-reduce-childhood-obesity-and-diabetes

Kent A. Leonhardt
West Virginia Commissioner of Agriculture

Health Consequences from Carbon Pollution Rollback

The Free Press WV

Doctors are warning that the Trump administration’s intent to roll back the Clean Power Plan will mean more respiratory illness, especially in vulnerable neighborhoods.

In a long expected move pushed by the coal industry, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced plans to end Obama-era rules limiting carbon pollution from power plants.

But according to federal projections, by 2030 the Clean Power Plan would prevent 90,000 asthma attacks and 3,600 premature deaths a year.

Dr. Elena Rios, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Medical Association, says poor and minority communities are being hit the hardest.

“The children’s data has definitely shown that, in those areas that have more carbon pollution, young people in our communities are really disabled, and our families are spending much more time and money and effort on asthma than ever before,“ she states.

Pruitt predicts ending the Clean Power Plan will be good for mining communities and will mean the so-called war on coal is over.

But Rios points out the real war is on poor children’s health, as coal-burning power plants most often put soot into the air in poor white and minority communities.

She says even if the nation ignores the issue of climate change and the extreme weather it causes, cutting power plant emissions would have total health benefits of $14 billion to $34 billion.

The EPA itself has estimated those health benefits at $54 billion annually.

“The government’s number one responsibility from a public health perspective is to help all people, and that’s why we think President Trump and his administration really should not go backwards in cutting back on environmental health standards,“ Rios stresses.

The Clean Power Plan calls for a one-third reduction in carbon pollution from 2005 levels by 2030, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration says the power sector is already almost there.

When the plan was proposed, Americans filed 8 million favorable comments with the EPA – the highest number ever in support of an EPA proposal.

The agency is now taking comments on the plan to reverse it.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Cassidy-Graham Would Cripple WV Opioid Treatment, Medicaid

The health care bill Senate Republicans are rushing to finish would cripple West Virginia opioid treatment and end Medicaid expansion, according to an analysis that also says the bill could end coverage of pre-exisiting conditions.

Sean O’Leary, senior policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, said the last-ditch attempt to get a GOP-only Obamacare repeal though the Senate would cut Medicaid funding so much that the state would have to roll back expansion. In addition, he said, while Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV, negotiated added funding for opioid treatment in previous Affordable Care Act repeal bills, there is none in this legislation.

“There is no extra money for opioids. There’s nothing,“ O’Leary said. “So it could really, really have a really devastating impact on the state’s battle against opioid addiction.“

The Free Press WV
Under the Cassidy-Graham plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, federal funding for Medicaid to the states would fall sharply, especially in 2027.


Supporters of what’s known as the Cassidy-Graham bill have said changing Medicaid funding to a block-grant system would give the states flexibility to do more with less. O’Leary said that would be impossible, given the low level of block-grant funding.

According to the Washington, D.C.-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Cassidy-Graham would cut $2 billion out of West Virginia Medicaid funding over 10 years. O’Leary said a state such as West Virginia that already has budget problems couldn’t make up for block grants that would be hundreds of millions of dollars below current levels. Then, he said, even those grants would be eliminated - and with it, coverage for the 10 percent of the state’s population in Medicaid expansion.

“After 2026, that block grant just goes away and we’re on the hook for 100 percent,“ O’Leary said, “and it would essentially end, and that 180,000 people would just lose their health-care coverage.“

O’Leary said the legislation also would allow states to get rid of regulations on insurance companies that require policies to cover a set of essential services outlined in Obamacare. He said that could include the rule that says they couldn’t charge more for - or drop folks with - pre-existing conditions.

“And that’s a big deal. In West Virginia,“ he said. “There are about 392,000 people who have some type of pre-exisiting condition that would be declineable.“

The bill’s only hearing is set for Monday. Capito, a key vote, has not said if she will support or oppose it.

More information is online at wvpolicy.org.

Farms to School Food Links Growing Like a Weed

The Free Press WV

Almost all West Virginia school districts get - or plan to get - food from local farms, and Congress may further boost the growing connection.

The Farm to School Act of 2017 would expand existing USDA Farm to School Grants to improve access.

Maximilian Merrill, the policy director for the National Farm to School Network explains it’s a win-win: Farmers supply their food to schools and students learn about agriculture.

“Students participating in educational activities related to agriculture, food and nutrition and health - and school gardens, so students engage in hands-on learning through gardening so they understand where their food comes from and the difficulty it is to grow that healthy food,“ he explains.

The bill asks for funding to be increased annually from $5- to $15 million to better meet the demand for the program. According to the USDA, more than 80 percent of districts in the state take part, and another nine percent plan to.

State districts have invested more than $21 million in local food, helping to provide for about a quarter million students. The Farm to School Act of 2017 would enable that to include summer foodservice program sites and after-school programs, and encourage farm-to-school partnerships between tribal schools and tribal producers.

Merrill notes that the program helps boost farmers’ bottom lines.

“In 2013-2014, that school year, there was $790 million in local foods purchased from farmers, ranchers and fishermen,“ he notes. “And if you look at the multiplying factor, that leads to over $1 billion pushed into the local economy.“

The bill also would improve program participation from beginning, veteran and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

~~  Dan Heyman ~~

Medicare For All Can Reshape the ‘Art of the Possible’

The Free Press WV

Bernie Sanders unveiled his Medicare for All bill this week, and 16 Democratic senators signed on as cosponsors. The last time he introduced a bill like it, not one senator was willing to join him. They considered the idea impossible, utopian.

Times have changed.

The senators who shared a podium with Sanders understand this bill won’t pass in today’s Republican-dominated Congress. They signed on because it’s a good idea, and because they recognize that by doing so they can both reflect and reshape a shifting political landscape.

They’re aware that Sanders’ presidential campaign triggered a wave of energy and activism that continues today. They recognize that this nascent political movement is a powerful political engine, and its diverse millennial base makes it the Democratic engine of the future.

They understand how change happens: as an ongoing dance between street-level activism and electoral politics.


A Declaration of Principles

With this bill, 17 senators – nearly one-third of the Senate’s Democrats, including several presidential prospects – are saying health care is a human right and a public good. That’s a declaration of principle.

They are also defending the principle of progressive taxation. The program would be funded through higher taxes on the wealthy, eliminating special tax breaks, a one-time tax on offshore profits, and a fee levied against big banks.

Their cosponsorship is a declaration of principle in another way, too. Not one of the bill’s 16 cosponsors describes her- or himself as a “democratic socialist,” as Sanders does. But this bill shows us how government can make our lives better, as it already does through programs like Medicare and Social Security.

Democrats have too often been reluctant to proclaim the value of government in recent years. They’ve kept government at an embarrassed arm’s length, like a parent at a junior high dance. These Democrats, on the other hand, are embracing an unabashedly pro-government idea. No embarrassment, just pride.


The Flag

The bill has no chance of passage in the current Congress. In that sense it’s symbolic, a flag. But flags have value. They give people something to rally around, and they can be used to point the way forward.

Democrats could use a few more flags these days.

For too long, “centrist” Dems made the mistake of elevating process over principle. Process is important, of course. But elections are won and lost on principle, on flags. Democrats who speak of “the art of the possible” in the context of a Republican-dominated Congress are on a fool’s errand. They’ll accomplish little or nothing of value.

The goal must be to take over Congress, not surrender to a hostile one, so that the “possible” is redefined. This bill can help make that happen.

These senators are being active rather than reactive. Instead of complaining about Donald Trump, they’ve provoked Trump into complaining about them. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the president thinks this bill is a “horrible idea.”

That’s how you win elections – by framing the terms of the debate. Let the Republicans tell the American people why they don’t think healthcare is a human right. Let them tell voters why they’re defending the runaway greed of insurance companies and Big Pharma.


Dollar By Dollar, Life By Life

The bill includes a transitional phase-in period. That’s important. Healthcare in the United States is a $3.4 trillion economy, so it will take some time to ensure a smooth transition. And, as Harold Meyerson notes, the bill’s gradualism is also “designed to make it progressively easier for legislators to support and progressively more difficult for such entrenched interests as the insurance and pharmaceutical industries to defeat.”

There is entrenched resistance to single-payer healthcare. It’s easier for a politician to defend a healthcare program for a defined population – children under 19, for example – than it is to defend something that can be abstracted away as “socialized medicine.”

It should also be noted that somewhere between one-third and one-fourth of all U.S. health spending is already government-funded. In that sense, any new government healthcare proposal should be considered “gradualist.”

This bill lays out the long-term goal, but its phased-in approach gives breathing space for other forms of health-related activism in the meantime. They include the fight to defend current government healthcare programs, and the battle for Medicaid expansion in states like Texas and Florida.

Medicare For All can be the flag for all of these health activism fronts, and all of them can be pursued with a single, unifying goal in mind: Dollar by dollar, life by life, public health insurance must be defended and expanded until it is available to everyone.

~~  Richard Eskow ~~

It’s Harder to Nourish Young Minds If We Don’t Also Properly Nourish Their Bodies

5 Things You Don’t Know About School Lunches (But Probably Should)
The Free Press WV

School lunches have been the focus of much controversy in the past few years, but school cafeteria food been the brunt of jokes for decades, as anyone who has ever attended public school can attest. However, school lunches are no laughing matter. Today, we’re more aware than ever of the importance of nourishing young minds with a healthy, well-balanced diet to equip students for success. But do we really know everything we need to know? Here are five things you don’t know about school lunches—but probably should.

 
1. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 has good intentions but is not well-executed—yet.

Most everyone is aware that there is some set of standards that aim to standardize the nutritional quality of school lunches across the nation. Most notably, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, enabling the U.S. Department of Agriculture to overhaul school meals in order to meet currently accepted standards. 

In spite of its noble intentions, the act has been harshly criticized by claims that the food is unpalatable, participation in the school lunch program has dropped sharply as a result, and in turn, school districts are realizing less revenue. Worse, more students are skipping lunch altogether.

On the surface, the Hunger-Free Kids Act makes a lot of sense. It requires school meals to be lower in fat, lower in calories and lower in sodium, as well as contain more lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains. The hallmarks of a well-balanced diet, right? Unfortunately, in order to continue to meet student expectations, school lunch programs are often serving reengineered versions of the foods students were accustomed to (think: whole-grain doughnuts, cheesesteak sandwich served on whole-grain bread with cheese low in both fat and salt, and some form of lean meat that some say is unidentifiable to many students). It’s fair to say that these reinvented foods aren’t meeting the bar in students’ eyes.

 
2. Standards require that certain foods be on a student’s trays when exiting the lunch line, but there’s no guarantee the kid will actually eat it.

It also turns out there’s a lot of waste. The act requires that students participating in school lunch programs have certain items on their trays before exiting the lunch line—meaning many fruits and vegetables are dumped into the trash, untouched.

Other critics express concern that by banning certain foods and attempting to essentially force students to consume foods they don’t enjoy, the program may be fostering an unhealthy relationship with food among today’s youth. Proponents of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, however, say that students are starting to come around to some of the healthier options and say that the act simply needs more time to allow schools and students to adjust.

 
3. Your school district may be outsourcing its school lunch program.

Huge food service companies are making bank by securing contracts with public school systems to provide school lunch foods. Privatization of school lunches has been around since the 1980s and 1990s, primarily due to dwindling federal support and funding. Sadly, nutritional standards often take a backseat to the need to control costs.

One public school district in Washington, D.C., gave the concept of privatization a shot beginning in the 2008-2009 school year based on the promise of numerous benefits: better-tasting meals with better nutritional quality, which in turn would result in better student participation in the school lunch program—an attractive benefit for schools.

More importantly, outsourcing the school lunch program was supposed to result in cost savings. Per Washington, D.C., law, any outsourced government service must result in a cost savings of 5 percent or more. An audit conducted in 2016 found that the district consistently failed to realize the projected cost savings:

  • In the 2009 fiscal year, projected savings were 56 percent and actual savings were -4 percent.
  • In the 2010 fiscal year, projected savings were 68 percent; actual savings, 53 percent.
  • In the 2011 fiscal year, projected savings were 73 percent; actual savings, 5 percent.

These savings shortfalls were expected to be made up with the promise of drastically increased student participation (from approximately 51 percent to 71.6 percent in the first year). Higher participation rates typically result in increased revenue through reimbursements per each meal served. However, these projections also failed to play out as expected.

Nutritional standards for healthier school meals may be partially to blame for a lack of participation, but other factors played a role as well. For instance, the report points out that participation rates are typically higher among students who receive free lunches. It’s worth mentioning that the audit did not specifically aim to assess the nutritional value or quality of the foods provided.

Finally, the audit report identifies six other school districts that have privatized food services and subsequently returned to self-operation, including:

  • School District of Philadelphia
  • New York City Public Schools
  • Detroit Public Schools
  • Fairfax County Public Schools
  • New Haven Public Schools
  • Baltimore City Public Schools

For one reason or another, each of these school districts ultimately returned to self-operation after failed attempts at outsourcing food services.

Costs are obviously a pressing factor for school systems today, as many districts are operating on tight budgets, and some are even tapping into reserve funds to get through another fiscal year. But perhaps the more pressing question is whether privatization of school lunch programs results in healthier foods.

 
4. Major food companies make big money by marketing less-than-healthy food choices to schools.

In 2009, privatization was viewed as a possible savior for the sad state of school lunches, promising ready-made, healthy, and tasty meals that meet USDA standards, but these programs largely targeted charter and private schools at the time, as the cost of the meals exceeded the federal reimbursement, and public school districts simply lacked the funding to make up the difference.

For every company offering healthy meal options for schools, there are several making bank by marketing unhealthy options. And ultimately, if student participation isn’t there, the program—no matter how healthy it may be—won’t have the desired impact.

But how is this happening given the nutritional standards that went into effect? It’s the same phenomenon discussed earlier in this article: rather than scrap the idea of serving kids corn dogs for lunch, food companies simply re-invented their products to meet nutritional standards. So, kids are still getting corn dogs for lunch, but maybe they’re lower-sodium corn dogs.

Schools can either purchase foods directly from the USDA at discounted rates (which the USDA obtains from private companies) or they can opt to purchase foods directly from private companies, provided the meals meet the standards, containing the required minimum amount of whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine reviewed a number of advertisements targeting the School Nutrition Association, a professional organization representing the 55,000+ school food service employees tasked with choosing and purchasing foods for school lunches. It found 106 ads for unhealthy meat and dairy products; among them, 26 full-page ads for Pizza Hut or Domino’s pepperoni pizza.

 
5. School districts may receive whole, nutritious food—and then process it into unhealthy options like chicken nuggets.

A 2011 article in the New York Times reports that the Department of Agriculture spends about $1 billion each year on foods such as fresh apples, sweet potatoes, chickens, and turkeys. Schools that participate in the program get cash subsidies or USDA foods for each meal they serve. According to the Times, some schools will cook these whole foods on-site, but an increasing number actually send the foods out for processing, turning once-healthy ingredients into unhealthy options such as fried chicken nuggets, pizza, French fries, and other common school lunch menu items.

The reason some schools send whole ingredients out for processing seems counter-intuitive, but it’s possible that it all comes down to the bottom line: it’s a lot easier to cook chicken nuggets for hundreds of students than it is to prepare chicken breasts, for instance, and it often requires simpler kitchen facilities and less-skilled staff to do so. So, while schools are paying more to have these items processed, they may be realizing greater cost savings by reducing their investment in labor costs (fewer hours, fewer skilled kitchen staff) and facilities.

One thing is clear: school lunches have a long way to go, and there’s no simple solution in sight. As school districts struggle to balance costs with meeting federal nutritional standards and other requirements, students are left to weather the storm with lackluster food choices that may not be having the positive effect on their mental and physical health that educators and parents want—and are certainly not having the tastebud-pleasing effects students hope for.

~~  Cynthia Lopez ~~

Packed Lunches: Cutting Corners, But Not Food Safety

The Free Press WV

As a working mom of four boys, ages 8 and under, I’m asked on a near-daily basis: “how do you DO it?!” It’s a carefully orchestrated dance: keeping my family fed, healthy, dropped off at school and daycare at the appropriate times, with their respective accompaniments, whether homework, snacks or lunches. And then in the evening, allowing opportunity to focus on homework and dinner, without sacrificing quality family time. Making this happen on a daily basis takes a keen attention to detail, a little luck and some advanced planning.

I’m game to try anything to help our daily routine run smoothly, and will cut any corners I can. However, one corner I won’t cut is safe food handling and preparation. Because let’s face it—a houseful of children in the throes of foodborne illness is no one’s idea of a good time.


Advanced Planning

To keep our household running as efficiently as possible, I prep the boys’ lunches a few days in advance. I pre-portion snack size bags of baby carrots for two to three meals and place those in the fridge with the other vegetables. On a clean and separate cutting board, I make enough ham sandwiches for two to three lunches. The prepped sandwiches go back into the fridge in a designated spot.


The Morning Of

In the morning, I pack each soft-sided cooler lunch bag with a napkin, cold sandwich, cold baggie of carrots, any other non-perishable sides and either a frozen water bottle or a frozen tube of yogurt. I also slide an ice pack on top of the lunch contents so each bag has two cold sources that keep the contents out of the Danger Zone (temperatures between 40°F and 140°F at which bacteria grows most rapidly) until lunch time. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has great resources on safe food handling, particularly for bag lunches.


After Lunch

We’ve taught our boys to throw out their leftovers and not eat anything from their lunches later in the day. When they arrive home from school, they promptly discard anything that didn’t make it into the trash can in the cafeteria. I wipe out their lunch bags with a disinfectant wipe and leave to air dry overnight. 

By prepping a few days of lunches in a session, I save quite a bit of time. Mornings run smoother because there’s no shuffling and rummaging for something to eat. Knowing that the food was safely prepared, stored and packed in their lunch boxes gives me the peace of mind that I’ve reduced the risk of foodborne illness in my kids, while carving out a little more quality time to spend with them in the evenings.

WVBOE Approves Nutrition Policy for West Virginia Public Schools

January 02, 2018 is the take effect date for a new nutrition policy for West Virginia’s public schools.

The Free Press WV

The state Board of Education approved Policy 4321.1 Standards for School Nutrition as a replacement for a previous nutrition policy dating back to 2008.

In general, it aligns West Virginia’s child nutrition standards with federal child nutrition standards.

In many ways, the policy approval is a formality.

“Our schools have been operating under the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act since 2012,” Michele Blatt, assistant state superintendent of schools, told members of the state BOE before the vote.

“The Act passed in 2010 and we started transitioning our schools to meet those federal requirements and had all our schools functioning by 2012, but our policy had not caught up with what was occurring in our schools.”

In part, the policy addresses food brought into schools for classroom celebrations or other events.

Under revisions that followed a public comment period, baked goods from home are again allowed in schools if in accordance with local wellness policies which are developed by county school officials.

“When we talk about our current local wellness policy, these are policies that are required by the federal government and all of our districts currently have a local wellness policy,” explained Blatt.

“In that policy, they have to promote student wellness, talk about how they’re going to prevent and reduce childhood obesity and provide assurances that school meals and all other food and beverages sold or provided will meet the applicable federal and state standards.”

Miller Hall, a BOE member, said local control was key. “I think that’s the way it needs to be,” he said.

A portion of the policy revisions prohibit counties from punishing students for unpaid or outstanding school meal debt with denial of meals, blocked access to extracurricular activities, graduation participation bans, refusal of transcript requests or other measures.

“All communication addressing financial matters should be directed to parents/guardians,” the policy stated. “Food and beverages shall not be offered as a reward and/or used as a means of punishment or disciplinary action for any student during the school day.”

More than 400 comments from 180 individuals, a larger number than usual according to state Department of Education officials, were submitted to the DOE prior to the close of the public comment period.

Going forward, Dr. Steve Paine, state superintendent of schools, said the effects of the policy would be monitored. “If it doesn’t work, we come right back and we revisit the policy,” Paine said Thursday.

~~  Shauna Johnson ~~

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During intervention the State had dictatorial control of our school system to include all decisions related to the GCES.

One result is that the GCES was built too small.

An investigation is needed to determine who was responsible for the bad decision, and what role the no-bid architectural firm had in designing and constructing the school.

Something major happened to cause the GCES to be built too small. Was something dropped at the expense of adequate class room space as a result of having to spend extra money because a poor site was selected?

Minimally, gross incompetency on the State’s part is the explanation for the disaster foisted onto the County.

A question pertains to the new gym. Lots of effort was taken by the State to try to convince the public that a competition gym instead of a regular gym was needed.

Did the competition gym cost extra money at the expense of needed classroom space? If the answer is affirmative who was responsible for deciding on the more expensive gym?

What about the enormous pit at the GCES? Was money spent on it at the expense of classrooms because something was wrong with the school’s site that was selected by the State?

Nothing similar to the pit has been seen at other sites where new WV schools were built.

Why has there been a failure for a thorough investigation to have occurred to expose the facts?

The obvious explanation is that powerful elitists in control do not want tracks leading to them, and they have veto power over a meaningful investigation including one done by a leading newspaper.

By GCES Built Too Small Scandal on 01.15.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Pat McGroyne is spot on.
High speed internet is simply another failure of WV state government.

If the elected in our state, were doing the job expected by voters….we should have very few problems or issues?

By Gilmer resident on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Muddling has another distinct symptom. It is the tendency for administrators in control to emphasize processes and procedures while avoiding disclosure of progress, or the lack thereof, in achieving learning results.

The purpose is another way to avoid personal accountability for school system failures.

By Muddling Epidemic In WV School Systems on 01.14.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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West Virginia is number one!
Our politicians are the best that can be had.
They are also the lobbyers dream come true.
No one—-can out-muddle our elected reps !

By we know it on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Suggestion after reading strategic plans for the GCHS and the GCES.

How about the school board requiring that for each school an informative executive summary be written to include——where each school stands on reading, math, and science proficiency, what the term proficiency means to eliminate the confusion, student proficiency goals for the two school, target time to expect goals to be achieved, and a statement to commit to keeping the public informed of progress in achieving the goals at designated intervals (e.g. quarterly) during a school year.

Omit confusing abbreviations and technical terms understood only by a select few in the education field, and written for comprehension by reasonable persons.

Leave it up to the County’s professional educators to determine how to get the job done with continual laser-like focus on getting results.

By Student Learning at GCHS and GCES on 01.13.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Muddling infects federal, state, and local government entities where personal accountability for top officials to get measurable results rarely exists.

Muddling practitioners are famous for passing off information unrelated to measurable proof that effective problem-solving has occurred. A common example is emphasizing how much public money is being spent to attempt to convince tax payers that magnitudes of expenditures are always directly correlated to levels of problem-solving successes.

Muddling by an organization is characterized by the existence of thick planning documents replete with vagueness and lack of clarity, undefined technical terms, and mysterious acronyms.

Muddling thrives on intentional ambiguity and confusion designed to protect muddlers and their organizations.

By Muddling 101 on 01.11.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Gilmer County is not the only place in the USA that has been faced with its students failing to meet proficiency standards for science, reading, and math.

The difference here is that evidence is lacking to conclusively demonstrate that Gilmer County’s officials in control have exerted proper efforts to profit form powerful lessons learned elsewhere to use that knowledge to help solve learning deficiencies in our schools.

In fact, a convincing argument could be made that the approach in the County has been the one professional planners designate as muddling through.

Classic symptoms of muddling through include failure to thoroughly analyze categories of causes contributing to problems followed up by using the information to develop a comprehensive plan to do the most good in getting better results by treating key causes instead of symptoms.

Muddling typically involves officials assigning blame for lack of progress to outside forces e.g., the “culture”, the State did it to us, and poverty. Haven’t we heard plenty of that?

Muddling must be eliminated if we want progress in solving non-performance problems within the County’s school system. Does anyone disagree?

By End School System Muddling on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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It is unclear after reading school board meeting minutes what progress if any is being made by GCHS and GCES principals in improving student proficiency in reading, math and science.

Why not allocate a few sentences in the minutes to summarize what the two principals reported to the school board?

All it would take to get the critical information out to citizens would be for the new school board to act on this.

Does anyone have a problem with the suggested change to keep Gilmer’s bill paying public informed?

By Need Specifics For Principal's Reports on 01.09.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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“High speed broadband – a necessity for today’s homes, businesses and other institutions – remains a huge unmet need for rural residents, despite promises by a succession of Governors from both parties (a contributing factor in why we’re losing population at a rate higher than any other state).“

I disagree with much of what Mr.Boggs believes.  That said, high-speed broadband is the single most important step the State of WV could take to improve the business climate and provide more opportunities for its citizens.

Sincerely

Pat McGroyne

By Pat McGroyne on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Conversation at local eatery.
Shortly after election.
Individuals were educators.

‘You think we have school problems now, wait until these new folks take the steering wheel’.

‘Students, parents, staff are all going to be in the soup’.

Sounds as if Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving vacation-deer season times have all taken a big hit.  If that is true, the union teachers need to come together, stand their ground, along with parents, and hold this new board accountable.

Have a local strike if need be.
Request resignations.
Vote of no confidence.

Schools employees can win.
You have done it before.
Just stick together.

By overheard conversation on 01.08.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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Scholarship must be the most important focus in Gilmer County’s schools.

Brought up the ZOOMWV Data Dashboard site to review the most recent State achievement test results for GCHS’s 11th grade.

Folks, Gilmer is in serious trouble. Proficiency for math=24%, reading=41%, and science=24%.

On an A through F grading scales the GCHS gets an F for all three subject areas.

What does the new school board have to show for inroads it has made since last July to make critically needed proficiency improvements at the HS? Citizens deserve answers to the question.

By ZOOMWV Data Dashboard on 01.07.2019

From the entry: 'IOGAWV Scholarship Program'.

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A thorough accounting for where all the public money went could be easily achieved by a competent accountant.

Isn’t there a special account at the County’s school board office for expenditures related to all bills paid and who got the money?

Following the money trail always gets results along with verification of means, motives, and access.

By Let An Accountant Dig It Out on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If central office financial records for all public money paid out for everything from site planning, site studies and development, and everything else to get to completion of the GCES and the LES—- what is the reason?

It is known that money was spent on the Arbuckle site and Cedar Creek, and public money was paid out for the LES too.

Were County records for the spending purged and if that happened who ordered the action? The records are either in the County’s central office or they aren’t.

By End Financial Secrecy on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Hasn’t the time come to finally start naming names and making people accountable?

By Get It Done on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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How about the “BIG WV WINDFALL”....?

For 3 or 4 months now we keep hearing about the millions of dollars of tax revenue collected.

Millions and millions above ‘estimates’.  Were those ‘estimates’ honest, or fudged to begin with, so as to request higher tax rates?

Well, Justice and the Legislature now have our dollars, what will become of this windfall? Will we see tax rates lowered?  Doubt full, but we should.

Likely this windfall, created by “over-taxation”, will simply create a “party atmosphere” of legislative spending. Watch the Charleston ‘gangsters’ get their wish lists ready this coming session.

By taxpayers always lose on 11.21.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Yes.  The blame Does seem to fall to ‘local’ people. In small places like Gilmer County, it’s just a poker game, boys, and the deep pockets win.  Money speaks volumes where ‘officials’ stay silent.  Go ask for the records, see what they’ve got.

By CheatersNeverWin on 11.20.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Teachers and staff knew from the beginning that the GCES was going to be too small. They were ordered by the State to keep quiet about the shortfall and other serious concerns too.

A sixth grader could understood how many rooms were needed by dividing total student numbers to attend the school by how many students should be in a classroom.

Under sizing was the State’s fault and it cannot be rationalized any other way including to assign the blame to local people. Same applies to the over sized LCES.

By Corrupt State Intervention on 11.19.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There will never be a full, public accounting of the gross mishandling of tax dollars during WVDOE intervention.
Too many local jobs and too many embarrassments of both elected and appointed bureaucrats.
These types cover dirt for each other.

Any local whistle blowers?  Doubtful.

One school built short 4 classrooms and another built with 5 too many.  Can it get more stupid than that?
Mr. Degree and Ms. Common Sense seldom travel together.

By Full accounting will never be revealed. Never. on 11.18.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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GCBOE when the two principals give reports at board meeting could the gist of what they said be summarized in minutes to keep the County informed?

It was a welcomed development by the Board to require principals to give reports particularly if there are required updates on progress designed to improve student learning for reading, math, and other subjects.

We still have not been informed about the status of science proficiency at the GCHS based on the latest testing. Why has the State failed to release the data? Were results too dismal?

By More Specifics For Principal's Reports on 11.17.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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If it is going to cost extra money to eliminate over crowding at the GCES the financial information referenced by Do It Ourselves should be presented to Charleston and the press too.

That would help frame a solid case that crowding problems were not caused by Gilmer County because all decisions related to facilities were dictated by officials over whom the County had no oversight authority during the State’s intervention.

By Follow The Money on 11.16.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is assumed that all records for spending to include money paid out for the LCES, dropped Arbuckle site, dropped Cedar Creek site, and all bills for the GCES are in the Gilmer Schools central office.

The new GCBOE has authority to get to the truth by demanding a thorough accounting for all the spending.

Afterwards the financial officer in the central office could easily access existing computerized records and to use the information for a report to the GCBOE and the public.

By Do It Ourselves on 11.15.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Notice that most of the ‘officials’ in Gilmer County also hold regular day jobs - sometimes working on more than one paying ‘job’ at a time in the same office space. This common practice is concerning for many reasons, and it needs to be talked about when so many go without.

By QuestionablePractice on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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There are two views in the County related to the under built GCES. Although the State built the school with inadequate classrooms one group believes that we should move on to let go of the past.

Isn’t this a form of advocacy for a coverup to prevent accountability for the State’s incompetence and mismanagement?

The other group believes that there should be a full accounting for all public money spent up to the time the GCES was completed to include disclosure of recipients of the public money. 

The accounting should be done for all public money spent at the LCES, the Arbuckle site, Cedar Creek, and finally the GCES.

Reasons for the under built GCES should be fully disclosed too. When the State was in control this information was kept secret from the public with loud claims that there was adequate space at the GCES.

Now it is known that there is inadequate space at the GCES and the problem is left to Gilmer County to fix. Only in WV!

By Citizens For Financial Disclosure on 11.14.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Unprofessional issues,rude commentsand rolling eyes at the high school has become an issue. Being on cell phone talking to boyfriends,when parents etc.going into the office. Since the teachers were ask not to be on them while students in the classroom. The one in the office should not be allowed to talk personal to her boyfriend, or whoever. Also, I hope this is corrected, the personal days, etc that the board provides to staff shouldn’t be allowed to use to work or operate a second job. Let’s get the priorities straight.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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GULMER COUNTY BOE. It is time for me to let you know some issues that is going on at the High school.  I’m hoping this will be addressed at the next board meeting. 1. It should not matter if an employee has a second job or run a business. The priority job is for the board. One should not be allowed to use any time from the board to run your business. There is going on
If they want to run your business than go but not on the boards time. I would like for all employees be treated the equal. They should not be allowed to use the time the board gives them for other jobs.

By Jo Ann conrad on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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While at it there should be an investigation of why the LES was build with too many classrooms and the GCES was built with too few. At the very least what happened is a WV horror story example of the State’s waste and mismanagement.

By Where Is The Investigation? on 11.11.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It is obvious that the GCES has a major space problem.

What options for dealing with the State’s mismanagement to cause the serious blunder are being considered by the Board of Education?

Could the original architectural design for the dropped Cedar Creek site be compared to what resulted at the GCES to accurately determine the extent of classroom space alterations?

If the architectural design at the GCES is different than the original plan for Cedar Creek the next step should be to determine reasons for the changes and where the money originally planned for needed classrooms went.

By INFO REQUEST TO GCBOE on 11.09.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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It’s long been known that Justice doesn’t happen in Gilmer County “because it all comes down to money”. And for those in charge of handling it and making decisions, it comes down to being competent to do the job,  keep accurate books and accounts and I’m sorry to say, that is seriously lacking in Gilmer County.

By Follow the Paycheck(s) on 11.06.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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What is GSC’s BOG’s plan for getting money for the next payment on the $38,000,000 bond loan the Gilmer County Commission approved?

Will the State pay or will the money come from private donations?

Money will have to come from somewhere to avoid a default.

By Where Is The Money? on 11.05.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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So sorry to hear of Kendall’s passing. I have fond memories of him at Uncle Paul’s store and the family reunions. I’m sure he will be missed greatly by those closest to him.
Please accept condolences from me and my family.

By Steve Lewis on 11.04.2018

From the entry: 'Kendall Goodwin'.

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GSC’s present plight is no secret and its future existence is in question.

Instead of expressing attitudes that GSC is being picked on could the Blue Ribbon Commission reveal why the College “tested out” as it did to fail to get more State money?

Was the “grading system” based on student enrollment trends, retention, time taken to get a degree, academic reputation, inept governance and administration, and other factors to block more funding? Informative specifics were not disclosed.

Teachers know that concerned students who want to do better always seek advice on what needs to be done to get better grades.

Similar to concerned students GSC’s supporters should be informed of what needs to be done to position the College for improved chances for survival to include eligibility for more State funding.

Saying that GSC is being picked on does nothing to help solve its nagging problems.

By What Was The Grading System? on 10.30.2018

From the entry: 'WV Legislative Update'.

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Well thank you, Details Please,  for asking!  So many problems in Gilmer and education is just one.  Look at the town, take a good look around.  Remember who runs unopposed at election time.  Vote.  Make a difference.  Hold authority figures responsible.  Allow videos, minutes and more to be shared on GFP again, for transparency.  Know your neighbors, help a friend.  Be good to each other. Amen.

By Reader7 on 10.29.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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I will truly miss my Uncle Stephen.  Telling me so much information about from gardening to canning. Just to listening to him talk with such passion for everything that he does… he had a sense of humor that always warms my heart.. listening to him play the banjo sometimes even when he didn’t feel good. he is always willing to share his recipes and his ways of doing things… his solar information he was always studying something ... I’m remember one time we asked him where he got his blackberries when it wasn’t Blackberry season and he go there’s a store down the road it’s called Walmart they have everything… He was so funny.  I love you.. xoxo.

By Robin Nunez on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Sorry for your loss. He sure did look like his father.

By Buck Edwards on 10.28.2018

From the entry: 'Stephen Blair Marks'.

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Reader 7, please give details for your suggested solutions to the County’s concerns you addressed.

The information would be helpful for consideration by school system administrators and the general public.

By Details Please on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is speculation that the plan is for GSC to convert to an education center for low risk federal inmates. Is this something the County and central WV needs?

By GSC's New Mission? on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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Dr. Pellett’s commentary in the 10/26/2018 issue of the Gazette includes a statement that GSC is responsible for injecting $28,000,000 into the local economy.

If GSC were to close loss of the money would cause the County to have more severe poverty than it has now.

The pressing challenge is for GSC’s administrators including its Board of Governors to exercise effective leadership to prevent closure.

Why can’t GSC take action on the long standing suggestion for it to be an innovator by establishing a five year teacher education program to enable students to earn a masters degree by graduation time?

Something must be done in WV to deal with the 700 positions for which certified teachers including those for math, science and special education are not in the classrooms.

Dr. Pellett and GSC’s Board of Governors why is a new teacher education program at the College not a viable option? Nothing else seems to be working.

The need exists, a similar program of excellence does not exist anywhere in the State, and GSC’s status would be elevated by having a masters degree program.

By GSC Alumni on 10.26.2018

From the entry: 'Paine: Plan to improve math scores to focus on algebra where a third of teachers aren’t certified'.

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GSC could make a valuable contribution to WV by doing a study to report on how grade and elementary schools with excellent results in math and reading did it.

Then, other schools could use the information as guidance instead of going it alone to reinvent the wheel.

With the Ed.D. expertise at GSC it would be a natural to take on the assignment. Dr. Pellett, would you back the initiative?

By Opportunity for GSC on 10.23.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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There is reference to signing an agreement with the State for math4life for all WV school districts. What has Gilmer County agreed to do to fix our problems?

By Agreements Matter on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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This important news has potential for making significant progress in improving math and reading outcomes in WV.

It hinges on how quickly advantage can be taken from lessons learned in schools that excelled.

The WVBE could do an analysis of reasons for excelling and to quickly provide guidance information to other schools.

That is the way the private sector approaches problem-solving because chronic failures have consequences and the unfit are weeded out.

Dr. O’Cull could help if the WVBE is not responsive. There could be panels of individuals from excelling schools to make presentations at WV School Board Association meetings to explain what their schools did to make the achievements.

By Why Reinvent The Wheel? on 10.22.2018

From the entry: 'InMyOpinion™: Balanced Scorecard -- Where do we go from here?'.

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A characteristic of a good strategic plan is to simplify language to enable a clear understanding of all its details.

Regarding the comment about abbreviations, a simple fix for them and terms (e.g. lexile) would be to insert an asterisk or a footnote symbol the first time one of them is used to refer readers to a section at the end of the documents where the entries are defined.

This comment is not intended to be a criticism. All specialty fields have a language of their own including the teaching profession.

Suggested clarity improvements in the plans would not be time consuming for principals at the County’s two schools.

By Clarity Is Always Good on 10.18.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Looked at the strategic plan for the GCES. It is a major achievement for the new GCBE to provide the information to the public.

Suggestion. Could the GCBOE post a meaning of all abbreviations in the plan? Doing that would make it far easier for readers to understand details in the plan.

By Help Understanding on 10.17.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Thanks Mrs. Lowther and the BOE for providing meeting minutes for the public to read.

Those of us who voted for the levy would appreciate receiving specific information for what is being done at the grade school and the high school to make needed improvements for college and career readiness.

Could a current overview and updates throughout the school year be provided to the public?

Why not put the details on websites of the two schools to give the principals a chance to shine?

By Levy Supporter on 10.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Board of Education Regular Meeting Minutes'.

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“engage in pedantic colloquy?“

No Bill.

By WEKNOWYOU on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Correct.  I do not wish to engage in back and forth useless ‘banter’ with big words and no results.  What I AM interested in is Gilmer County, in all it’s ways.  Education, Food, Law and Transparency.  Fancy words are often used to hide, divide, and distract..  Plain words speaking truth for the safety and well being of the people is what I’m looking for..  Gilmer is suffering… I want it to stop. I want to see the citizens healthy, educated and strong. I want to see more jobs instead of food banks.  I want Committee meetings for all to see. I want the law to do what it should, when it should.  Plain english would work fine.  Thanks for asking.

By Reader7 on 10.14.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Lol 7, you do not wish to engage in a pedantic colloquy?

By Smart Feller on 10.13.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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All nice but a small request? Can we simplify some of the language?  Don’t mean to be rude, but fancy works aren’t needed for the Truth.

By Reader7 on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Stop living the delusion the state will fix education.
They have caused the problem.
Remember, for them, job one IS job protection.

Rare in history, that the cause of a problem, has come forth with a solution to what they have caused. They keep resetting testing standards so as not have any ‘yardstick’ they can be measured against.  Apparently people just don’t get it?  And the WVBOE is so happy about that.

By it-ain't-a-gonna-happen. period. on 10.12.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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There is a continuum for sophistication regarding what is done with data.

Collecting and compiling it is at the low end of sophistication.

Synthesis is at the high end.

This means using results and other information to make specific recommendations for making improvements.

The State took its typical easy way out by failing to go beyond the data compilation stage.

By Easy Way Out on 10.10.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The comment about need to find out what was done at high performance schools to determine what we could do in Gilmer County to get the same results merits a comment.

The comment flags what is wrong with the State BOE in failing to provide effective leadership.

Does anyone recall a single instance, after tens of millions of dollars were spent on amassing data, when the State BOE did anything to effectively address lessons learned at high performance schools for application at other schools?

Of course not! It is the easy way out for those in high income brackets in Charleston to collect data instead of using it to the maximum to take full advantage of lessons learned.

Could the WV School Board Association help fill the gap?

By Lost Opportunity on 10.07.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Harry, So sorry to hear of the passing of your wife.  I’m also sorry that I never got to know her because if she was anything like you, I’m sure she was pretty special.  Please know that you and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.  May God’s love be with you my friend.

By Greg Garvin on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Judith “Judy” Carolyn Buckley Rich'.

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What is the BOE’s proficiency goal for English and mathematics and what is the time frame for achieving the goal? That is news citizens want.

Then too, how can citizens at large get involved to honor and to encourage students who improve, and what of a similar nature could be done to give special recognition to outstanding teachers who contribute to improved learning for English and math?

By Positive Changes Made By New BOE on 10.04.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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The BOE and Mrs Lowther deserve high praise for disclosing proficiency information to the public.

It is the first time since 2011 anything like this has happened.

We still do not know about results for science, and it is understood that Charleston is still “working” on it.

Now we know our serious shortcomings in math and English and there is new hope for burrowing out of the mess with everyone in Gilmer working together.

By Thanks Gilmer BOE on 10.03.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released Outlining School Performance In Gilmer County'.

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Well, dear citizen… sometimes the local ‘law’ gets it wrong.  #truth #JusticeForGilmer

By Transparency matters on 09.30.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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Soooo…...why do we never see a big drug bust in Gilmer?
With the college and others, there are plenty sources.
Seems strange?

By citizen 3 on 09.23.2018

From the entry: '33 charged in methamphetamine distribution operations in Harrison, Marion, and Monongalia Counties'.

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If you access http://www.mywvschool.com it is evident that some schools outpace others for math and English.

For examples look at data for Lizemore Elementary in Clay County, Alum Creek Elementary in Kanawha County, Rock Branch Elementary in Putnam county, and Greenmont Elementary in Wood County.

Gilmer BOE why not assign someone to evaluate what is being done at those school and others to make them State standouts and to apply lessons learned to our elementary schools?

The same applies to learning from others regarding how to get high marks at GCHS.

By Learn What Works From Others on 09.23.2018

From the entry: 'WV and Area Counties Balanced Scorecard for School Year 2017-2018'.

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I have not read anyone blaming our teachers.  Quite the contrary.
There have been some well thought out comments submitted too.
I am old enough to remember when we had few issues about quality education.

Forget Charleston? Better not.
Believe we are still in their “probation” period.
You better check out just what that means.

By GC--still on state probation? on 09.22.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Why not go for it on our own and use the tried and widely accepted Iowa Test of Basic Skills to evaluate learning proficiency of our children?

It is the longest running test in America and it goes back to 1936.

One outcome of using the test is that each grade would be evaluated and compared to performances to schools in other parts of America.

We would probably have to go through hoop jumps of the State’s everchanging testing too.

By Iowa Test For Gilmer on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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To compound complexity of the issue, Gilmer is different from McDowell and both are different than Monongahela.

The implication is that getting out of the crisis must be county-specific and there is no one size that will fit all of WV’s 55 school systems.

Each county is on its own and ones with the best planning, local boards of education, and administrators will shine. Forget about Charleston!

By County-Specific on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Similar to most complex problems there are several categories contributing to WV’s dismal failure in improving education results in our grade and high schools.

Information in referred journal is beginning to show up. Some of the categories include curriculum issues in high schools, block scheduling failures in high schools, inordinate emphasis on sports at the expense of academics, inadequate prep of grade schoolers to ensure that they get firm foundations in math and English Language Arts, failure to instill need for life long learning at early ages, failure for school systems to fund continuing education of teachers to prepare them for newly emerged practices for enhanced student learning, cultural impediments including failure of some families to encourage children and to give them extra learning help at home, dysfunctional families for children to grow up in caused by drug and alcohol abuse and chronic unemployment, grade inflation characterized by too many As and Bs and attitudes that nobody fails so pass them along, failure of school boards to hire the best qualified superintendents and teachers because of local emphasis on favoring “home grow” individuals, failure of school boards to define performance expectations for superintendents to make effective accountability impossible, constantly changing types of State mandated testing to cause chaos and morale problems, poor compensation of teachers necessary to attract and keep the best and the brightest, etc.

To blame all problems on teachers is a cruel travesty.

One of the weakest links contributing to a lack of progress in improving WV schools is that instead of analyzing the full spectrum of contributing problems and focusing on ones with the biggest payoff potential, the trend in Charleston is to constantly apply band aid approaches with hopes that “cures” will be stumbled on accidentally.

By Do Not Blame It All On Our Teachers on 09.21.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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The problem with preK-12 education in WV is that a holistic and and technically defensible evaluation of contributing factors to cause WV’s problems and how to deal with them has not occurred.

Instead, under direction of clueless politicians ineffective muddling prevails while selling what is done at a particular time as the definitive solution.

How many times have we witnessed muddling over the past 20-30 Years? It still goes on in Charleston.

Why not obtain a grant to have qualified experts analyze success stories around the Nation and use findings to craft a demonstration project in Gilmer County to improve our school system?

Regardless of what we do there must be open minds in seeking out what to do in homes, schools,  teacher education programs in our institutions of higher learning, continuing education for classroom teachers, and to involve various factions in our community to achieve acceptable results. Everyone must band together as a unified team to make it work.

One trap is over emphasis of sports. If the same magnitude of attention and importance were to be focused on solving preK-12 education problems in WV, great strides could be made to benefit deserving children.

By Muddling on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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Our heartfelt condolences on the passing of Mr. Ron. I too know this pain of losing a beloved father. Both of these men were taken way too soon. Praying maybe Mr.Ron, my Dad, and all the former Westinghouse employees in heaven are getting together. Love and prayers from, Adrienne and family.

By Adrienne (Trimper) Johnson on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'Ronald J. Vanskiver'.

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West Virginia’s educational failures is NOT because of classroom teachers.

It IS because of the WV Board of Education’s failures of the past 20-30 years.

That 9 member, lopsided governor board is a crime against children and education in WV as a whole.

It needs 3 teachers, 3 general public parent members, and 3 governor appointees.

Until that governors click gang is broken up, you simply see repeats of the past.  NO progress in education.

It will take the legislature to fix it, but they are too busy with the legislature created court system failure, while trying to line pockets with gas and oil money.

By Tell It Like It Is ! on 09.19.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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What is the plausible rationale for Gilmer not disclosing detailed facts similar to what Superintendent Hosaflook did?

Wood County reported 11,176 students in its 27 schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

In comparison Gilmer had 734 reported students in our two schools for the full FY 2018 school year.

Wood County had 15 times more students than Gilmer and it is reasonable to assume that it was 15 times more demanding to administer with its 27 schools.

If Wood County could get detailed facts out to the public with its significantly higher work load what keeps tiny Gilmer from doing the same?

By Why Gilmer BOE? on 09.18.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Wood County Schools exceeds state test averages'.

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We have not had a responsible, functioning, WVBE for 20 years.
Not one that would accept any responsibility.

They just keep changing ‘score keeping’ so there can be no accurate tracking of student progress.

State ranks 48th or 49th on educational outcomes. Still.
Colleges still have to give remedial classes.

The ONLY thing that changes are the names of the governor appointed players.
And just look at the ‘cost-per-pupil’ spending!
We are about the highest in the nation.

West Virginia State Board of Education = complete failure.  Nothing less.

By just more smoke and mirrors on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Balanced Scorecard Released for Public Schools in West Virginia'.

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Never could figure out why working people, retirees, volunteers are picking up trash left by adults?

Not when we have the numbers of bored prisoners we have locked up doing nothing??

By No solution here- on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Adopt-A-Highway Fall Statewide Cleanup Set for September 29'.

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Go to http://www.mywvschool.org to access more official State information about Gilmer’s schools. There are serious red flags in need of immediate corrective attention.

If you access Lewis County schools on the same web site you can review info for LES. Look at the red flags there. Worse than GES.

Instead of using the info to criticize it can be useful in seeking out opportunities for making immediate improvements.

For those who take apologetic stands that Gilmer is doing as well as some other WV counties and everything is fine, it does not mean that inferior educations for our children are acceptable.

By Look At Red Flags on 09.16.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Who is responsible for Gilmer’s oversight of the LES?

If you access the State’s website you will learn that math and reading is red flagged for the LCES to be as bad as it can get.

Why is it that nothing is reported in Gilmer County about how that school is doing when we know that our sixth grade finishers from over there will go to the GCHS to finish their educations? 

It is like our students who attend LCES are forgotten about. Someone needs to be watching out for them.

By Who Minds The Store on 09.15.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The really sad stories are left out.
The students who accrue debt and for whatever reasons, drop out of school after a year or two.

They have little hope of improving incomes, but still have debt.
More of them than you think.

By More sad ones to be told. on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Information made ‘public’ forces accountability.
Do not hold your breath lest you turn blue.

‘They’ want elected. Get their place at the trough.
Then discover ‘exposure’ makes their work more difficult.

Informed citizens make informed decisions.
Why do we see the same names being elected over and over and over?

By WHEN we're allowed to see it......? on 09.14.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Lots of work to be done with schools in Gilmer County. 2017-2018 Summative Assessments out today for student achievement.

Gilmer County High School.

For Math
*Exceed or Meet Standards=40% of Students.
*Fail to Meet Standards=60% of Students

For Reading
*Exceed or Meet Standards=36% of Students
*Fail to Meet Standards=64%

The scores speak volumes. What was done to accurately determine causes of failures and what will be done about it? BOE, the public has a right to know answers.

By Public Demands Answers on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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The Founding Fathers screwed up, we should not have to work and pay our bills. Let that man behind the tree work and pay for it all.
Free education should be a right.
Free food should be a right.
Free healthcare should be a right. 
Free transportation should be a right.
Free entertainment should be a right.

By Smart Feller on 09.13.2018

From the entry: 'Student-Loan Debts a "Loss of Freedom" for Some in WV'.

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Thank you BOE members and Mrs. Lowther. Let’s work together at all community levels to make Gilmer County an educational power house in West Virginia. We can do it as an effective team and provision of information will be the key to success.

By Better Times On The Way on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'Gilmer County Superintendent Set Her Goals for School Year'.

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Accountability - good point - and across Gilmer County.  We’ve seen glimpses and pieces of news WHEN we’re allowed to see it, mere mortals that we are. But never any follow up.  And the information come in bits and pieces (remember when we actually got to SEE what the Gilmer County Commission was up to?)  My question is, why do we never see the accountability or repercussion for actions of current Gilmer ‘elite’??

By Transparency matters on 09.12.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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Encouraging news that the superintendent will present her goals for Gilmer Schools on 9/10.

We assume that there will be a commitment for specific goals to achieve, measurable outcomes, completion dates for different steps and final goal achievement, and a meaningful monitoring program to determine if we are on track or there is need for mid-course fine tuning.

If any of this is missing there will not be meaningful accountability. Excellent business plans have all the components addressed above.

By Waiting To See on 09.09.2018

From the entry: 'G-ICYMI™: Harrison BOE sets yearly superintendent goals'.

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