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Putnam schools in a time crunch to hire staff members

WINFIELD -- The Putnam County school district’s superintendent says the water crisis, the tough winter and the relatively early start to the upcoming school year have put the district in a crunch to finish filling positions before students return Aug. 18.

Make-ups for the 19 days students missed-- 15 because of weather and four due to the Jan. 9 Freedom Industries spill that contaminated the water of roughly 300,000 West Virginians-- have contributed to a shortened break before the 2014-15 year begins, Superintendent Chuck Hatfield said.

“It, in essence, knocked a couple weeks off of summer,” he said.

The local school board called a special meeting Thursday night to, among other things, hire new employees, transfer personnel and authorize contracts for band camp instructors. Among those hired were Rudi Raynes, who’s currently listed as a media specialist for the state Department of Agriculture, to the new communications and events coordinator position that the board in June separated from the position of director of elementary schools. Hatfield said he didn’t know offhand Thursday the salaries for any new employees.

Hatfield said he also didn’t know how many positions are left to fill, but they include the assistant principals of Poca and Winfield middle schools. The board approved moving the holders of those positions to assistant principal positions at Hurricane schools Thursday -- part of an ongoing personnel shuffle related to restructuring of positions in the district’s central office.

Hatfield said he hopes to finish hiring at the July 28 meeting, though he said there might also be a chance at the Aug. 4 meeting.

Also Thursday, the school board unanimously approved policies to add dual credit classes to the county’s four high schools and embedded credit courses at the Putnam Career and Technical Center in the upcoming school year. Hatfield said he wasn’t sure whether the West Virginia Board of Education has given final approval on the policies because Cindy Daniel, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, was out of town.

Daniel said earlier this month that Hurricane High School should start offering the classes in the first semester and the other high schools plus the Career and Technical Center would follow in the second.

Daniel said dual credit courses allow students to simultaneously earn high school and college credit. The district currently offers college-credit-only classes through Marshall University, but the new dual credit classes would give credit for something like 12th grade English and freshmen college English simultaneously. Daniel said a single school could offer anywhere from one to five such classes.

She said the new embedded credit classes would allow students to simultaneously earn both a high school and career technical credit. Hatfield explained that technical credits go toward completing special technical programs, which can help graduates land jobs out of high school. They can also sometimes count toward degrees at community colleges.

The school board also approved the district’s revised policy manual Thursday. Hatfield said it was a roughly three-year process to amend the document, but said the changes were minor and mostly made the guide more user-friendly and compliant with state policy.

Reach Ryan Quinn at, 304-348-1254 or follow @RyanEQuinn on Twitter.

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