PARKERSBURG - Wood County Board of Education Tuesday unanimously approved providing $200,000 for track improvements to the Erickson All-Sports Facility.
The board also unanimously voted to uphold the five-day suspension of Parkersburg High School physical education teacher Jesse Young for an inappropriate dance video filmed at the school. Pat Law, Wood County superintendent of schools, confirmed Young was the teacher involved in the inappropriate Harlem Shake video filmed at the school featuring students performing simulated sex acts.
Several hundred Parkersburg South High School students, teachers, coaches and supporters attended Tuesday's meeting. Erickson Foundation president Rick Bush was on the agenda to address the board.
Parkersburg South High School students and athletic boosters congratulate each other after the Wood County Board of Education voted to provide $200,000 for repair of the track at the Erickson All-Sports Facility. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
"A lot of people here would like me to be pounding my fist demanding $700,000," Bush said referring to the board's recent funding of Parkersburg High's Stadium Field.
"That was an emergency need and we don't have that," he said.
Bush said South has an emergency need for the track and needs $200,000 to address it. He provided board members with a current estimate on costs to replace the track.
"I'm not a believer that to be equal in treatment we get equality in dollars," Bush said. "... We are a band of brothers and ask you to treat us as such."
Bush received a standing ovation as he left the podium.
In addition to Bush, nine others spoke during public comments regarding issues and the need for funding of southside athletic facilities, including the bleachers at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center. Bush said officials were making no request for the money for the bleachers.
"As I understand it has a pretty good chance of getting on the 10-plan," he said. "I am here for Erickson."
Board member Jim Fox, whose brother serves as track coach at South, said the track is not safe and it also needs to be repainted.
"There is a safety factor involved."
"This is an act we do need to look at," Board president Tim Yeater said of Young's suspension. "It reflects on the system."
The board was in executive session for about 45 minutes Tuesday to discuss personnel issues. When officials returned, board member Tad Wilson attempted to amend the suspension to 30 days without pay beginning March 7.
Yeater said he felt it would be best if that came from Law, who said it will remain at five days unless it needs to be amended.
Law said it is up to the superintendent to extend the suspension with reason.
"There will be a continuation of the investigation," he said.
Law said Young is a first-year teacher.
Board members also unanimously approved the expulsion of a student for violation of the Safe Schools Act. Law said he could not identify the student and declined to state why the student had been expelled other than a safe schools violation.