KEYSER - After receiving an answer they really didn't like, the Mineral County Board of Education went ahead recently and approved a half-day cook position to be split between Frankfort Middle and Frankfort High schools.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - After receiving an answer they really didn’t like, the Mineral County Board of Education went ahead recently and approved a half-day cook position to be split between Frankfort Middle and Frankfort High schools.
The board members were slated to accept the retirement of a half-day cook at FMS during their Oct. 30 meeting, and subsequently advertise for a replacement, which would be split between Frankfort Middle and Frankfort High.
After hearing from director of child nutrition Becky Schneider, however, that there were other schools throughout the county that are short-handed in the kitchen, board member Rob Woy asked her to come back with a list of which school needed what in their nutrition programs.
The board members approved the retirement that night, but postponed a vote on advertising the position until they received an answer from Schneider.
On Nov. 13, she had that answer - a total of 17 cooks would be needed to alleviate understaffing in the schools throughout the county.
“Yeah. Seventeen,” Schneider said. “That’s what I wanted you to see. It’s not just Frankfort that needs help. It’s both places … but we don’t have it in our budget to hire these positions.”
State funding only covers a certain amount of positions, based on student population, and any additions have to come from local funding.
This was the issue that Woy seemed most concerned about.
“We can say every decision we make as a board is in the best interest of the kids, but that is a lie,” he said.
“It’s only in the best interest of the kids if we can afford it.”
Woy added, however, that the board should work “as hard as we can” to provide the positions needed in the schools.
“We may never get it up to where it needs to be, but we can get close,” he said.
Board member Terry Puffinburger expressed his concern about the work overload on the county employees.
“I understand funding, but when we’re overworking our employees, and the principals and vice principals are in (the kitchen) cleaning up, we need to fix that,” he said.
Rhonda Martin, the county’s chief business official, tried to get the board members to see the problem with funding extra positions.
“We have to look at the overall picture,” she said. “Week after week we’re getting more requests for more positions. Everybody needs something … but we only have so much money.”
Martin also reminded the board members that “you five are personally responsible for illegal expenditures should there be a deficit in the budget.”
Board member Mary Jane Baniak noted, however, that the board is “not adding or subtracting anything … we’re just filling a position.”
With that, she made a motion to advertise for the half-day Cook II position to be split between Frankfort High and Frankfort Middle, and Tom Denne seconded it.
The motion passed 4-1, with Puffinburger voting against.