The community of Cana received an early Christmas present on Dec. 11 when the Carroll County School Board decided against moving seventh graders from St. Paul School to Carroll County Middle School next year. The motion, which was approved unanimously, will also give parents of sixth and seventh graders at St. Paul the option of sending their children to CCMS next year if they so desire.
Carroll County Superintendent Dr. Strader Blankenship opened the discussion by saying after two public hearings concerning the possible change and getting input from many parents and grandparents, “the staff will go along with the will of the board in respect to that item,” referring to grade structure of St. Paul School.
Joey Haynes, who represents the Fancy Gap District, then addressed the board.
“I have been particularly impressed with the way parents and community leaders have addressed the situation. It’s an amazing how much you can learn from people with children in the school system,” said Haynes. “I want to thank all the parents for coming out. At this time, I would make a motion that we maintain the grade structure at St. Paul School.”
Haynes’ motion also included that the school board “provide all course items offered at Carroll County to students at St. Paul,” and that “parents be given permission to enroll their seventh graders at Carroll County if they feel that is a better situation. We want to assure equality, but build in choice.”
Vice-Chairman Reginald Gardner, who represents the Sulphur Springs District, asked Haynes if his motion applied only to seventh graders, and Haynes replied yes. Sanford Hendrick, the Laurel Fork representative, then seconded the motion.
Board Chairman Brian Spencer, the Pipers Gap District representative, responded that he would like to see the option extended for Cana parents who would like to send their children to Carroll County.
I’d like to see the parents of sixth graders given that option,” said Spencer.
Owen Gallimore, Pine Creek District representative, said he favored that idea, pointing out it would be easier for parents who might have a child in both the sixth and seventh grades to have their children in the same school.
Haynes replied he’d “be happy to amend” his motion to “include a flexibility option for sixth and seventh graders.”
Gallimore raised a question about the sharing of teachers, using the example of 30 students at St. Paul and 90 at Carroll County taking the same class. He asked if the teacher would spend more time at one school than the other. Spencer also asked if students at each school “will receive face-to-face time with the same teacher.”
Blankenship said, “That’s going to depend on scheduling and staff. We will try to make it as equal as possible.”
Spencer then questioned if a teacher working at both St. Paul and Carroll County would receive extra pay to compensate for the additional travel.
Tammy Quesenberry, finance supervisor and school board clerk, said, “You don’t get paid for going to work.” She added that the school system had “a lot of teachers who work at different schools. If you open it up to one, then you have to open it up to everyone.”
Patricia Siebens then addressed the board, asking that all schools should be included in the motion.
“I wanted to thank the board for taking the time to listen to the people of Cana. I would ask that you do the same thing for Fancy Gap, and to open it up to all schools,” said Siebens.
Gardner responded that was already in place. Any parent, according to Gardner, has the right to have his or her child attend a different county school, all that is needed is an official request, for which there is no fee.