HUNTINGTON — Final plans for the creation of Cabell County Schools’ first mobile summer feeding vehicle — created to deliver meals directly to students in their neighborhoods over the break — were released Tuesday night at the county Board of Education’s regular meeting in Huntington.
A mockup of the vehicle, a decommissioned Cabell County school bus wrapped in light blue with graphics, was presented to the board by food service director Rhonda McCoy. The bus will be remodeled by students at the Cabell County Career Technology Center, who will remove the seats to accommodate food coolers.
No timetable for the bus’s completion has been set, though it is expected well before next summer. The bus will become the latest part of Cabell County Schools’ Summer Food Program, which serves over 30,000 free meals each summer to students 18 years old and younger.
In voting matters, the board heard the first of three readings for new policy changes to determine how and which elementary school teachers are affected by reduction-in-force (RIF) and subsequent preferred recalls.
The updates outlined in three policy statutes — Reduction In Force, Reduction in Classroom Teaching in Elementary Schools and Preferred Recall List — are rewritten to place a higher priority on qualification rather than simply seniority when selecting teachers for RIF, transfer and preferred recall. Seniority is, however, to be considered among other attributes that would contribute to being overall qualified.
Cabell County Schools “RIF’d” 128 employees in April, though nearly all were hired back to positions within the county by the start of the next school year in August.
Reduction-in-force policy is common in many workforces, particularly in education, in which employees are removed from their positions, often due to lack of funding or reorganization. In Cabell County’s case, as it is in school districts across West Virginia, RIFs are generally the product of the loss of state funding generated by shrinking enrollment.
RIFs at the school level could be the product of schools eliminating or changing certain course offerings or programming or simply if the district cannot guarantee they will continue their position in the next school year. In the past, these typically impacted younger employees with less service time.
One example would be if a kindergarten teacher position was eliminated based on declining enrollment, meaning that teacher could then bid on other positions in his or her certification posted prior to the next school year.
Once employees receive a RIF notice, they may rebid on new job postings listed by the county prior to the school year, with preferred recall granted to RIF recipients.
In the past, more senior employees could instead be transferred to new positions within their certification, as the RIF and rehiring process most often impacts staff with less service time. The policy, if approved, would no longer weigh seniority as the sole determinant for a transfer, but rather qualification for a new role.
Cabell County Schools is staffed by around 1,250 professional employees and roughly 590 service personnel.
Policy changes require three readings before the board can take a binding vote. At the earliest, the changes could be fully ratified at the board’s Nov. 19 meeting.
The Cabell County Board of Education meets every first and third Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the district’s central office in Huntington. Meetings are always open to the public.
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