Ohio County School Spending Up Slightly

Ohio County Schools spent nearly $70 million during the 2016-2017 school year — a slight increase over the previous year.

The school district’s finances for the 2016-2017 school year were discussed during Tuesday night’s meeting of the Ohio County Board of Education. Business Manager Steve Bieniek reported expenditures for the 2016-2017 school year at $69,640,887, compared to $67,758,911 the previous year.

Carryover into the present school year, however, was higher than it was a year ago, he told board members. Carryover from the 2016-2017 school year to this year was $2,947,883, versus $2,899,508 last year.

School board members commended Bieniek for his efforts determining the numbers, and they praised all Ohio County School employees as Service Personnel Day was celebrated by the district on Monday.

Those attending Tuesday night’s meeting saw signs placed throughout the room. The signs honored each employee who works in the central office individually, and called them “our super heroes.”

Jerry Ames, vice president of the West Virginia School Service Personnel Association and president of the Ohio County chapter, spoke before the board and told them he was moved by the display. He commended the school administration and school board for their efforts guiding the school district.

“Our people are very, very happy in the schools,” Ames said of service personnel.

Board members are now honoring school employees at each meeting who go “above and beyond” to make the school district function at its greatest. On Tuesday night, the custodial staff at Wheeling Middle School was honored.

The board also invited Wheeling Park High School’s strings instructor Ben Podolski to speak about the success of the strings program. He said when he started with the program in 1986, there were 40 students participating in strings education within Ohio County Schools and there were two instructors.

Today, there are 612 students playing string instruments daily in grades 4-12. There are three teachers who dedicate their day to teaching strings education, while a fourth teacher is split with another music program, Podolski said.

The strings program also gives out two $4,000 scholarships each year in memory of former student Patrick Latos to students who wish to pursue an education in music at the college level. Podolski reported many of his past students have gone on to music-related careers, and many are teaching music around the country.

The board broke for a brief executive session to discuss personnel. After they returned, they unanimously approved Superintendent Kim Miller’s recommendation to suspend Steenrod Elementary School custodian Brian Walker for one day.

The school district cannot legally provide any additional details regarding personnel matters.

The board next meets at 6 p.m. Oct. 10 at a location to be announced. Board members want to hold the next meeting at a school facility, and the location has yet to be finalized.

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