NAUGATUCK – At a regular meeting of the Mingo County Board of Education (BOE) the BOE voted 4-1 in favor of creating an Option Pathway teaching position to serve Mingo County High Schools.
Board member, Robert Starr requested that the personnel item concerning the position be pulled for discussion before the BOE voted for approval.
“I just wanted to know what that is and why we are creating this position,” Starr explained.
Superintendent Robert Bobbera responded stating, “That has been a very successful program in a lot of counties. What it is, it catches students that are in danger of dropping out of school and not graduating. It is a blended program that helps them obtain their high school credential and their CTE certification.
“Students that are contemplating completely dropping out of school, can enter this particular option pathway program. They work toward a GED or at least a high school credential and at the same time, they complete a CTE pathway. It gives them the opportunity to have a high school degree completion diploma and it gives them the opportunity to develop a trade or skill through CTE. It is a pairing of the two,” Bobbera continued.
Bobbera explained that a teacher would teach the academic portion of the program and the students would attend CTE training for half a day. “You have to have an individual instructor that does this. They teach that book work component for part of the day and the student for the other part of the day goes to CTE program,” Bobbera said.
Starr responded stating, “That would be in the high school? It says Mingo County Schools; would it be housed at the Central Office?”
Bobbera explained that the Option Pathway position would serve both Mingo Central and Tug Valley High School.
Starr responded stating, “I thought Mingo Central had an integration teacher. Isn’t that part of her duties as well; to catch those students that are falling through the cracks?”
Bobbera answered stating, “In some cases, yes. But what this will do is guarantee that CTE component that is needed with that.”
The discussion continued with Bobbera discussing the success the Option Pathway has had in neighboring counties. “It has been used in Logan County. Logan pretty much spearheaded this and it was really pressed by the CTE state level. It is just another way we can hope to catch students before they drop out of school. You don’t want to see them either go to home school or see them drop out because either of those two routes will mean that they aren’t in school to get a high school diploma and it also takes funding from the county. That is why we have requested to initiate the Option Pathway for Mingo County,” Bobbera explained.
Starr responded stating, “It sounds really good. I hate to be a negative nelly here but we have abolished positions… I am afraid we are over doing it.”
Bobbera then discussed the statistics involved with the decision to create the Option Pathway position. “We have 150 students that have gone to home school which means that they are not recorded as a drop out but they are not on our books. We are no longer getting funded for them. Of that, we have half at the high school level. We are losing students at that point. This is just an option or a way to try to keep them in school.”
The discussion continued with Starr asking who the direct supervisor would be for the person employed in this position.
Bobbera responded, “We would have them working directly under Mrs. Hinkle-Brown.”
Dr. Richard Duncan explained how the position is funded. “It would be considered as a classroom teacher and just like any other classroom teacher; it would be funded by State Aide.”
Bobbera stated, “It is not out of the county pocket.”
Starr explained that for the first year, the county would be required to pay for the position. “We would have to pay this year; then we would get funded next year.”
Duncan responded stating, “We have sufficient funding to pay for this position for the current year.”
Starr responded stating, “I know all the positive things about it. That concludes my question.”
No other board members had any further questions regarding the creation of the Option Pathway position. The board then voted to create the position, effective July 1, 2016 with a vote of 4-1. Starr voted against the creation of the new position.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)