Early Contract Renewal Sought

WHEELING – Ohio County Board of Education President James Jorden has recommended a contract extension for Superintendent Dianna Vargo – even though she has two years remaining on her existing contract.

Vargo’s salary is $130,000 for this school year, and her contract extends through June 30, 2016. Her salary for the 2014-15 school year is $135,000, according to the state Department of Education, and $142,500 in its final year.

Citing the county’s improving test scores and graduation rate, perfect financial audit and very few legal issues, Jorden said he believes Vargo has earned a contract extension. He referred to her as “the face of Ohio County Schools” after the meeting had adjourned, adding it is not unusual for counties to give extensions in the middle of a contract. Further, he hopes to see Vargo finish her career in the district.

“The state of Ohio County Schools has never been better,” Jorden said during Friday’s board meeting. “I attribute that to the leadership of … Vargo.”

Jorden lost his re-election bid Tuesday, finishing fourth to board members Shane Mallett and Christine Carder, and also newcomer Tim Birch.

The contract extension will be added to the agenda for the board’s next regular meeting set for 6 p.m. May 28 at the board office. The new board will not be seated until July 1.

Ohio County Schools’ 2014-15 budget proposal comprised the majority of Friday’s discussion. The main areas budgeted for increase include utilities, fuel and five new school buses.

After Mallett introduced the topic of how coaches are paid and possible changes through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, particularly for volunteer coaches and whether they would be eligible for health care through the district based on hours worked, the board reviewed approaches to coaches’ post-season pay supplements, among other considerations.

Board member Gary Kestner then inquired about custodial staff, particularly the opportunity for a custodian to keep facilities such as the J.B. Chambers Performing Arts Center clean during select months of busy activity.

“It’s cut way back over the years,” Kestner said about custodial staffing.

The board plans to review current staffing levels. The board also approved school volunteers/chaperones and personnel for the upcoming school year.