Report: BHS has high dropout rate
by Gail Marsh
Bridgeport High School has the highest dropout rate
in Harrison County and makes up one of three county schools with a dropout
rate higher than the West Virginia average, according to a state report.
But the principal of the high school says the report card is misleading.
"We don't believe our dropout numbers are typically
higher than any other school in the area. It has a lot to do with the way
the figures are calculated," said BHS Principal Lindy Bennett.
Overall, schools in Harrison County have a student
dropout rate lower than the state average, according to the recently released
West Virginia Report Cards, compiled by the state Department of Education.
The cards list state, county and individual school data for the 1997-98
The report sets the overall dropout rate for all
state students in seventh through 12th grades at 2.9 percent.
In Harrison County, the report lists the overall dropout rate at 2.1
percent, which includes the county's five middle schools and five high
schools. On an individual basis, Bridgeport High School shows the highest
dropout rate at 4.0 percent, followed by Robert C. Byrd High School at
3.2 percent, Lincoln High School at 3.0 percent, Liberty High School at
2.7 percent and South Harrison High School at 1.5 percent.
Bennett said the averages can be misleading. The school had 844 students
enrolled last year, with the number of dropouts at 35.
"Some of the students listed as dropouts have actually
transferred to another school in the county. And we have at least four
students on that list that each dropped out a couple of times in the same
year," he said.
Bennett said four others on the list have re-enrolled,
while two have moved out of state and have not yet sent for their transcripts.
After checking individual names, Bennett said he
counted 26 possible dropouts last year, which would bring the school average
to about 3.0 percent, just a bit over the state average of 2.9 percent.
Bennett said Bridgeport High School has a school-based
assistance team that evaluates those students referred to them who may
be having academic problems. The team works to find ways to help the students
in any area of difficulty they may be having.
Bennett said the only students that fail are the
ones that don't show up and don't show enough interest to ask for any help.
"The teachers here are very receptive to offering help. If students
want to learn, they can be successful here," he said.
In other area counties, dropout rates are also lower
than state average, with Lewis County at 1.9 percent, Taylor County at
2.3 percent, Barbour County at 2.3 percent and Doddridge at 2.5 percent.
Upshur County's overall dropout rate stood at 3.0 percent.
Percentages are based on the number of students
who left public school, for any reason except death, before graduation
or without transferring to another school. Percentages are calculated by
the number of dropouts divided by the first month's enrollment. The state
rate is up from 2.8 percent last year.
Bridgeport company plans to expand
by Troy Graham
Extolling the virtues of West Virginia's workforce,
Pratt & Whitney officials announced a $7 million expansion Monday that
will create 30 jobs at the aerospace company's Bridgeport site.
The Bridgeport plant, which employs 350 people,
will add a new "test cell," which is used to test engines by simulating
flight conditions. Two existing cells will also be renovated. The new cells
will enable the Bridgeport facility to test larger and more powerful engines.
By increasing the testing capabilities at the Bridgeport
site, Pratt & Whitney will be able to ensure its presence here, officials
"Basically, this project is to secure what we already
have in West Virginia," said Denis Parisien, the plant's general manager.
During a ceremony Monday, several speakers said
the Bridgeport site was selected because of the quality of West Virginia's
workforce and the willingness of government officials to work with the
The workers here are "qualified, skilled, motivated
people," said Gilles Ouimet, the president and chief operating officer
of Pratt & Whitney Canada.
In addition, the state Legislature passed a bill
Friday that will give tax breaks to expanding aerospace companies. Pratt
& Whitney will be able to utilize the tax breaks with this expansion.
Gov. Cecil Underwood, who attended Monday's ceremony, said he will sign
The Bridgeport plant is Pratt & Whitney's Corporate
Center of Excellence, which means the plant works largely on corporate
or business aircraft.
Those planes are increasingly using the more powerful
engines that the new cells are being equipped to test.
Construction on the new cell should be completed by November, and renovations
to the existing cells should be finished next month, Parisien said.
Pratt & Whitney's expansion goes hand in hand
with the expansion of Benedum Airport's runway, which is expected to be
completed this fall, said Richard Smith, the executive vice president of
Executive Jet Aviation.
Smith said he looks forward to the day when he can
land large aircraft at Benedum, turn them over to Pratt & Whitney and
have them overhauled in a day and a half.
"As long as Pratt & Whitney continues its promise,
I promise to bring business to Clarksburg, W.Va.," he said.
Ouimet said the company is well positioned in West Virginia. When the
extended runway at Benedum is completed, 140 acres of flat, developable
land will be created. Further expansion on that land is a possibility,
"It's a good bet that the requirements for added
capacity will not be too far down the road," he said.
Old Man winter dumps more snow on North Central West
by Jim Fisher
The second snow storm in less than a week in North
Central West Virginia is expected to dump up to eight inches of the white
stuff throughout the area through tomorrow.
The National Weather Service has continued the winter
storm warning through today, according to Chris Leonardi, meteorologist
with the service in Charleston.
Snow began shortly after 3 a.m. and about three
inches had accumulated by 8 a.m. today. The snow is expected to slack slightly
about 11 a.m., but continue falling the rest of the day.
More snow is expected tomorrow as the storm system
continues to move through the area, Leonardi said. Also, a second storm
system is expected to hit the area Thursday, but Leonardi said it is too
early to tell if it will be snow or rain.
"We knew it was coming but weren't sure until the last 24 hours that
so much snow was involved," Mark Bloomer, a National Weather Service meteorologist
said Monday. What makes things look even worse, Bloomer said, is that temperatures
Temperatures are expected to rise from the 20s to
the low 30s this morning. That could cause some of the snow to turn to
rain and drizzle.
Temperatures will lower back into the 20s this afternoon
and turn sloppy roads into icy roads, Bloomer said.
The snow, on top of minimal rain that fell beforehand, created treacherous
driving for the North Central West Virginia region.
At least four vehicle accidents were reported in
Harrison County since the snow began to fall, but all were minor and no
injuries were reported, according to a dispatcher. No other counties
had any reported accidents this morning.
The West Virginia Division of Highways has all road
crews out clearing and treating the roads, according to Dick Davis, engineer.
He said crews have been out since the snow started and the primaries are
in pretty good shape.
Many school systems in the region did not wait on heavy accumulations,
however. Most counties in the area canceled school before 5 a.m.
West Virginia University, Fairmont State College,
Glenville State College, the West Virginia Business College and Northern
West Virginia Community College will not hold classes.