Final School Bell Will Ring in Ohio County June 1

Ohio County Schools Superintendent Kim Miller and Assistant Superintendent Rick Jones listen as board of education member Tim Birch speaks during a Monday meeting at Bridge Street Middle School. Photo by Joselyn King

WHEELING — Property values in Ohio County jumped by $42 million from last year to an estimated total of $2.55 billion, so school officials do not anticipate raising the excess levy rate this year.

Also during the Monday Ohio County Board of Education meeting, officials announced the last day of class this year will now be June 1. Board members approved another change to a school calendar that had already been amended because of the recent nine-day strike by teachers and service personnel.

Members also addressed next year’s proposed school calendar and honored a lengthy slate of students achieving accolades in the past month. Member Shane Mallett was not present, while member Christine Carder participated by phone.

Monday, board members announced the property tax levy rate tentatively will remain at 95.5 percent of levy rate permitted under law, pending final approval by the board during a levy order meeting scheduled for 8 a.m. April 17.

Business Manager Steven Bieniek told members it would not be necessary to raise the rate this year, as property values have increased, according to figures provided by the Ohio County Assessor’s Office.

The office sets total property values in Ohio County at $2.55 billion — an increase of over $42 million over last year, according to Bieniek.

As for the last day of class, Human Resources Susan Nolte announced the current school calendar was being changed, and that the new last day for students will be June 1. Previously, the date had been moved to June 4 to accommodate days lost to inclement weather and nine days lost to the recent strike by school employees.

Nolte said school officials expected attendance to be low on June 4, so they decided to instead make it a professional development day for teachers.

Development days for teachers will be a major part of 2018-2019 school calendar, and serve as time for teachers to learn about new technologies that will be instituted in their classrooms in the coming months. A plan to start school an hour later on Fridays was considered by school officials, but discarded after the results of an online public survey showed the public did not agree with the idea.

Instead, a total of six professional learning days have been set in the calendar throughout the school year, and students would have these days off while their teachers get learning opportunities.

The proposed 2018-19 school calendar presented Monday sets the first day of class for students for August 16. Graduation is set for May 19, 2019, with the last day of classes for all students on May 23, 2019.

The first semester ends on Dec. 21, and a winter break for students is set for Dec. 24 through Jan. 3. There also is a scheduled two-hour delay on Jan. 3 for additional teacher development.

Students would get a spring break from April 17, 2019 through April 23, 2019 under the proposed calendar.

A second public hearing for the school calendar has been set for 5:30 p.m. on April 9 at the Warwood School, with the board convening its regular meeting there at 6 p.m.

A public hearing to discuss the upcoming bond issue preceded the board meeting, as did a public hearing regarding the proposed 2018-2019 calendar.

Board members also spent about 80 minutes Monday night honoring students and staff who have achieved accolades in recent weeks.

The Wheeling Park High School speech team was honored for winning its 39th consecutive state championship this month. Senior Maguire Glass, who brought home three individual first place awards, performed for those present.

A large number of students receiving all-state music honors were recognized, including 33 members of the WPHS Strings ensemble who made the all-state orchestra.

National merit finalists, “Poetry Out Loud” winners, and state champion swimming and wrestling winners also were honored.

Senate Majority Leader Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, and Majority Whip Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, were present to bring recognition to Pam Fazzini — a counselor at Middle Creek Elementary School. They credited her with the idea for Senate Bill 633, a bill providing funding for mental health programs in the schools. The measure has been signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice.

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