WELLSBURG - A computer program aimed at streamlining school libraries and a playground for the preschool program at Brooke High School will be the first projects to receive funds from the Brooke County school board's lease with Chesapeake Energy.
The board has received a $661,955 signing fee for leasing of up to 189 acres of school property throughout the county.
The board on Monday agreed to spend $51,625 of the money to purchase and install 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, 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 levels.
The board also agreed to allocate $10,000 for a playground for children in the preschool program at Brooke High School. Through the program, high school students interested in careers in education or day care management gain first-hand experience working with children under the direction of their adult instructors. Kathy Kidder, superintendent, said staff and volunteers have raised $25,000 through grants and fundraisers for the playground.
The board also authorized Rob Robinson,facilities supervisor, to seek bids for new work stations, tables, shelving and carpet for the 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 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, questioned whether pupils are retaining what they have been taught.
Valerie Smith, curriculum director for grades sixth through 12th, said she will contact the course's online facilitator about their concerns.