Pound High first on list for outline of renovation plans

Stephen Igo • Feb 13, 2007 at 6:45 AM

WISE - Preliminary architectural and engineering plans for proposed renovations to Wise County's six high schools will be presented at each of the schools over the next two weeks leading up to a Feb. 27 special meeting before the county school board that will provide more details, including cost estimates.

Projected costs for each of the six renovation projects will not be a part of the presentations at the schools, beginning with Pound High School this evening.

Each of the meetings will begin with an administrative and teacher group session at 4:30 p.m., with the meetings for the general public to be from 6 to 7 p.m. After the PHS session, the schedule for the other schools is Powell Valley High School on Thursday, Coeburn High School on Feb. 20, J.J. Kelly High School on Feb. 21, and both Appalachia and St. Paul High Schools on Feb. 22.

School division Finance Director Ron Vicars also provided the Wise County School Board a tentative schedule for 2007-08 budget deliberations, with the administration proposing to present base budget figures on Feb. 26, a proposed budget presentation to the board on March 12, a public hearing or decide on a date for a public hearing on March 26, and a board vote on next year's fiscal budget on April 9.

Ann Wade, treasurer for the Wise County Education Association, told the board Monday that the teachers group had not met with administrators to have input on next year's budget. She said the WCEA should be included in budget preparations to have an opportunity to "say something before something is handed out" to the board or the rest of the public. Wade said inclusion by the group in budget preparations is something the organization has wanted for years.

Vicars and School Superintendent Greg Killough told the board that administrators have met with WCEA representatives and were planning to meet with them again to discuss budget matters, but had no date in mind Monday.

In other matters, schools transportation chief Greg Mullins is drawing the usual midwinter's heat for snow calls, or lack thereof, whether that be 90-minute weather delays, early dismissals or calling school off.

Wise County has called six weather-related (usually called snow days) school closures so far this winter. No matter what the school division decides on any given day, Mullins said, if the critics don't get them - and they are legion - the weather will. Or won't. Some school days the division has called off this season have turned out to be rather pretty, much to the dismay of school officials and, probably, weather forecasters.

Mullins began his presentation on the foibles associated with weather scheduling decision processes with levity. He beamed an old Peanuts cartoon on the overhead projector portraying Charlie Brown and some of the rest of the gang watching a single snowflake drift toward the ground. Meanwhile Linus proclaims, "Close all the schools! Close all the schools!"

Mullins said predicting the weather - and even worse, predicting what to do or not to do about it from a school scheduling perspective - is an "inexact science" in the best of circumstances. Mullins said the division's motto is to always "err on the side of safety."

"There are no perfect ways to do this," he said.

And while the school division doesn't "always get it right," he said, "we try to."

Killough said safety is the first priority when wrangling with weather scheduling decisions, and instructional integrity is another. He said Mullins has been a kind of Moses this winter. Instead of the Red Sea, Mullins seems to have a divine impact on weather fronts as they approach the region.

"They go north or south of us" rather than plow into Wise County as predicted, Killough told the board of some of the times schools have been closed for storms that never materialized. "We don't know if (Mullins is) blessed or not."

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