PHS teachers donate to pay for AP tests

PARKERSBURG – Donations from teachers at Parkersburg High School are going to make it possible for some students to pay for Advanced Placement tests.

Last week, education officials were left scrambling after discovering federal money for a waiver program to allow students who qualify for free and reduced-priced lunch to take AP tests for college credit was not available. Dixie Billheimer, chief executive officer for the West Virginia Center for Professional Development, said they had received no word yet from the U.S. Department of Education regarding the waivers. Last year, the center received $53,000 in federal funds for the program.

Officials said teachers have raised enough money through donations to cover the costs of Parkersburg High School students to take the tests.

Wood County Schools Superintendent Pat Law talked with Parkersburg High School Principal Pam Goots and it appears donations from teachers have raised enough money to cover the costs, close to $1,000.

Parkersburg South High School guidance counselor Jim Blanc said they have received no word on the test money.

“We will order the test as we always have,” he said.

The tests must be ordered by Friday.

Blanc said community members have contacted the school, offering to cover the costs of the tests. Regardless of what happens, Blanc said the school will offer the tests for students.

“We are not going to exclude anybody,” he said. “We will worry about paying for it later.”

Goots said if the federal money comes through, school officials will try to reimburse the teachers who made donations.

“But we are all operating on the assumption we won’t get any money,” she said.

Goots said Wood County already provides some money to assist with the testing costs for students who have a financial hardship but don’t qualify for free and reduced-priced lunch. Wood County Schools Assistant Superintendent Sue Woodward said that money (about $500) has not been allocated. With the federal program tapped, Woodward said the school system may not hand out the $500 to the students who “fell between the cracks.”

In recent weeks the Wood County Schools board has appropriated $900,000 in unbudgeted funds for athletic facilities improvements to Stadium Field and the Erickson All-Sports Facility. Law was asked if the board would look to reimburse teachers for their efforts.

“I don’t know that we would be able to reimburse them,’ he said.

“We have to look at what we are doing long-term and if we have to face this year to year. We will have to look at that long-term, what the answer may be.”