Vargo Contract Extension Left Off Board Agenda

WHEELING – The Ohio County Board of Education didn’t address the matter of renewing Superintendent Dianna Vargo’s contract at its meeting Wednesday night, and won’t until “the appropriate time,” according to board President James Jorden.

Vargo’s contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2016, but Jorden suggested at a special board meeting May 16 the board look into extending her contract. Jorden’s call came just three days after he lost a bid for re-election.

“At the last meeting, a request was made to review and discuss the superintendent’s contract,” Jorden said during Wednesday night’s board meeting “That matter did not go on the agenda. That matter will not go on the agenda. That matter will be taken up by the next board at the appropriate time.”

Jorden had cited the district’s improving test scores and graduation rate as reason to reward Vargo. Her salary for the 2013-14 school year was $130,000. Her pay increases to $135,000 next year and $142,500 in its final year, according to the state Department of Education.

Also Wednesday, board member Christine Carder spoke out on what she said were rumors in the community that she has missed 24 meetings since joining the board in 2010. She often calls in to meetings when she is not able to participate in person, and she defended her actions.

“In the last four years as a member of this board of education, I have physically missed one board meeting,” Carder said. “That was because of circumstances beyond my control. There is a policy in Ohio County Schools that it is legal to call in to meetings and be a participant. There is a state law that says you can do the same thing.”

Carder said she is also a member of the Training Reviews Committee for the West Virginia School Board Association, where board members most often call in to the meetings that take place in Charleston.

“I have never, ever shirked my duties or my commitment as a member of this board of education because I am traveling,” she said.

Jorden called Carder’s comments timely. He said he would be on vacation when the board next meets June 9, and may call in that day. He added he also will be away on business for the following meeting set for June 23, and will definitely call in on that date.

His term on the school board expires at the end of June.

Carder suggested the board consider the purchase of a speaker phone for the board room. Currently board members call in to Vargo’s cellphone, which she then puts on speaker phone so they can listen in during the meeting.

Also on Wednesday night, the board passed its budget for the 2014-15 school year, which totals $60,757,617. The amount represents an increase of $1,905,980 over this year’s budget of $58,851,637, according to Vargo.

She said the 2014-15 budget contains mostly the same allocations as in the current budget, but does provide for increases in teacher salaries and state Public Employees Insurance Agency premiums, as well as decreases in federal and state grants received by the school district.