Mr. R. Paul Clayton
Pendleton County Schools
P. O. Drawer 888
Franklin, West Virginia 26807-0888
Dear Mr. Clayton:
This is in response to your letter raising questions about the assignment of personnel due to changes in the configuration of certain schools in Pendleton County.
High School: You state
We are closing Circleville School (K-12) and Franklin High School (7-12). All 7-12 students from those schools will attend a new school which we are building on the present Franklin High School site. Although 83,00 square feet of the resulting school will be new construction, the school will attach to, and will utilize, three of the existing Franklin High School structures: (I) a vocational building which houses vocational agriculture, home economics, and business programs, (ii) a field house that is used for basketball, locker rooms, and some physical education classes, and (iii) a two-story structure which will receive major renovations, and which houses and will continue to house the kitchen/cafeteria and several classrooms (these classrooms will be used for different classes than those presently assigned to those rooms.) The resulting school will have a new name.
Elementary School: You state
We are closing Circleville School (K-12) and Seneca Rocks Elementary School (K-6). All K-6 students from these two schools will attend a new school which we are building on the present Circleville School site. The new school will be an entirely new structure and separate from the present school building. Even a new parking lot is being developed. The resulting school will have a new name.
Question 1. You ask: In each instance (high school and elementary school), will the resulting school be a product of consolidation or merger under W. Va. Code ?18A-4-8f?
The resulting school in each instance will be a consolidation.
?18A-4-8f states that:
For purposes of this section only, a consolidation shall mean when one or more schools are closed, or one or more grade levels are removed from one or more schools and the students who previously attended the closed schools or grade levels are assigned to a new school....a merger shall mean when one or more schools are closed or one or more grade levels are removed from one or more schools and the students who previously attended the closed schools or grade levels are assigned to another existing school.
The only difference between a consolidation and a merger under ?18A-4-8f is whether the students from the closed school(s) or removed grade level(s) are being assigned to a new school or to another existing school.
Based on the information presented as stated above, it appears clear that the intention of the Pendleton County Board of Education in the case of both the high school and the elementary school is that the resulting school will be a new school and a consolidation and not a merger.
You then ask, must we post all teaching positions at the resulting(new) schools. The answer is yes, all teaching positions at each of the new schools must be posted.
You further ask, if we must post some teaching positions, and if the county's faculty senates vote under W. Va. Code ?18A-4-8f to give teachers affected by school closings priority status in filing positions at the resulting school, which of the teachers currently assigned to the schools to be closed will enjoy the priority status in applying for posted teaching positions?
W. Va. Code ?18A-4-8f is clear that the 7-12 teachers from both Circleville School and Franklin High School will have priority, on the basis of seniority within the county, in filling positions at the new high school for which they are certified and meet the standards set forth in the job postings, over teachers who are not currently on the faculty of either of the existing schools.
Likewise, the K-6 teachers from both Circleville School and Seneca Rocks Elementary School will have priority, on the basis of seniority within the county, in filling positions at the new elementary school for which they are certified and meet the standards in the job postings, over teachers who are not currently on the faculty of either of the existing schools.
Question 2. You ask, in each instance (high school and elementary school) must we post all of the non-teaching professional positions and all of the service personnel positions at the resulting/new schools?
The answer is yes. All positions for the new schools, whether professional or service, should be posted. W. Va. Code ??18A-4-7a and 18A-4-8b.
Question 3. You ask, if positions must be posted for service personnel positions, whether service personnel currently employed in the two schools to be closed would have preference in filling the new positions because of the faculty senate votes under W. Va. Code ?18A-4-8f?
The answer is no. That code section applies only to classroom teachers.
Question 4. You ask, can the faculty senates in the county vote on whether to give priority to teachers in the closing schools in one election or must such an election be held separately for each consolidation?
W. Va. Code ?18A-4-8f appears to require a separate election for each consolidation.
Question 5. You ask, if teachers in the closing schools have been voted priority status by the faculty senates, does the fact that a teacher may spend only 1/7 of his/her time currently in a specific subject area assignment play any role in determining whether that teacher would be entitled to priority for a full time position in the same subject area?
The answer is no. W. Va. Code ?18A-4-8f provides that if a teacher is properly certified and meets the standards set forth in the job posting the position shall be filled on the basis of seniority. Seniority for classroom teachers, as defined under W. Va. Code ?18A-4-7a, is determined on the basis of the length of time the employee has been employed as a regular full-time certified educator by the board and is granted in all areas in which the employee is certified. The fact that a full-time employee may teach several subjects for which he/she is certified does not operate to prevent seniority from accruing in each area in which the employee is certified.
We trust the foregoing is of assistance.
State Superintendent of Schools