WELLSBURG - A computer program aimed at streamlining school libraries and a playground for the pre-school program at Brooke High School will be the first projects to receive funds from the Brooke County Board of Education's lease with Chesapeake Energy.
The board has received a $661,955 signing fee for the lease of up to 189 acres of school property throughout the county.
The board on Monday agreed to spend $51,625 of the money for the purchase and installation of the Follett Destiny Library Manager program, through which books in the county's school libraries may be catalogued, barcoded for checkout and return, and identified according to their reading levels.
The system was suggested by Dollie Kidd, the school district's reading specialist, who last fall brought in Malbert Smith, a nationally known reading specialist, to talk to local educators about his system for matching children with the books that most suit their reading level.
The board also agreed to allocate $10,000 for a playground for children in the pre-school program held at Brooke High School. Through the program, high school students interested in careers in education or daycare management gain firsthand experience working with young children under the direction of their adult instructors.
Kathy Kidder, superintendent of schools, said staff and volunteers have raised $25,000 through grants and fundraisers for the playground. Plans call for it to be built by a side entrance leading to the school's music and art departments and one of the two pre-school classrooms or at the rear of the building near the other classroom.
The board also authorized Rob Robinson, the school district's facilities supervisor, to seek bids for new work stations, tables, shelving and carpet for Brooke High School's library.
Board President Jim Piccirillo said the library's carpet hasn't been replaced since the school was built more than 40 years ago.
The lease was approved on the condition no wells be established on school property. Piccirillo said Chesapeake hasn't begun drilling on any school property or indicated where or when it will drill.
In other business, the board heard from parents Amy Spurrier and Amy Talbott, who expressed concerns about their children and other pupils at Wellsburg Middle School completing a self-paced online Spanish course there.
They and other pupils didn't start the course until six weeks into the school year and have been told they must make up for the missed time by the current semester's end, they said. They added they're concerned their children will receive poor grades that will affect their high school transcripts.
Kidder said the course was begun late because the school district had tried unsuccessfully to find a Spanish teacher to teach in person at the school. Piccirillo said the state Department of Education now requires school districts to offer two years of a foreign language at middle schools.
Wellsburg and Follansbee middle schools share a French teacher, but the large number of pupils at the two schools and a scheduling conflict prevent them from sharing the Spanish teacher at Follansbee, Kidder said.
She said the state Department of Education offered for the school district to use the online Spanish course at no cost on a trial basis.
She said parents of middle school pupils may determine whether their children's grades are included in their high school transcripts after their children have completed a test determining their grade for a course.
Talbott, who also teaches at Wellsburg Middle School, questioned whether pupils are retaining what they have been taught.
Valerie Smith, Brooke schools' curriculum director for grades 6-12, said she will contact the course's online facilitator about their concerns.
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