From Chromebooks to cameras, Marion County Board of Education to vote on new tech for schools

Nov. 7—FAIRMONT — At the Marion County Board of Education's Tuesday meeting, Board members will vote on a range of new technology items to potentially bring to Marion County Schools, including Chromebooks and state-of-the-art security cameras.

On Tuesday's agenda, School Superintendent Donna Heston has recommended the Board purchase several student Chromebooks, with costs totaling over $630,000 using federal and state funds.

The Board will also vote on the installation or replacement of 15 Meraki/Cisco MV22 4 megapixel HD Cameras — with a total cost of over $20,000 — and auditorium lighting for Fairmont Senior High at a cost of nearly $22,000.

Members of the Board will not just review new technology for Marion County Schools. At Barrackville School, new playground equipment with estimated costs over $28,000 will be under review.

If approved, the construction will be funded partially by the Barrackville School Parent Teacher Organization, and partially by the Board's capital improvement funds.

Beyond infrastructure and technology, the Board will vote on various programming initiatives in Marion County Schools.

The Board is considering a $5,500 contract with Jerry Trimble for a motivational speaker workshop. Trimble is a black belt and two-time world kickboxing champion who now serves as a youth motivational coach, according to his website.

During his youth, Trimble was bullied and faced mental health challenges including depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, according to his website. For Trimble, pursuing a career in martial arts provided a pathway to a happier and more secure life — a life story he would likely share with Marion County youth through the workshop.

In addition to Trimble's services, Heston has recommended the approval of a memorandum of understanding with KVC Behavioral Healthcare West Virginia, a nonprofit organization that focuses on "strengthening families" and "preventing child abuse and neglect," according to the organization's website.

In Marion County Schools specifically, KVC West Virginia would "provide mental health services for students and families" during the school day beginning this month and lasting the remainder of the school year, according to the Board's agenda for Tuesday.

Also under review Tuesday are two members of Marion County School's personnel, both of whom will face a vote from the Board on indefinite suspensions.

While the names and reasons for suspensions are not listed for either individual's case, the Board's agenda for Tuesday notes that one individual currently serves as a sports coach for Marion County Schools, and one currently serves as a service personnel.

Additionally, eight students are under review for expulsion from Marion County Schools for violating the Safe Schools Act, pending a vote from the Board during Tuesday evening's meeting.

Should these students be expelled, the number of student expulsions this school year would rise to 20, continuing an increase in student expulsions documented since the start of the 2023-24 academic year.

By Nov. 7 in the 2022-23 academic year, a total of 16 students were expelled from Marion County Schools, marking a 25% increase in student expulsions for Marion County Schools this year.

That number has slowed from last month, when the rate of student expulsions in Marion County Schools increased by 50% over a one-year period.

In September, Heston told the Times West Virginian an increase in student expulsions might be caused by increasingly strict student disciplinary procedures implemented in 2023 across the state through House Bill 2890.

Specifically, the bill increased school disciplinary responses for students with repeat disciplinary offenses in a short period of time.

"We have worked very hard in Marion County Schools to reflect upon and assess [the new policy] regularly throughout the school year," Heston told the Times West Virginian after a Sept. 18 meeting regarding the new bill.

The Board will meet on Tuesday evening at 5:30 p.m. in its central office at 1516 Mary Lou Retton Dr.

Reach Jack Walker by email at