1. Tell us a little about yourself including why you are running and what goals you hope to accomplish
First, I am a father of three children, two of which attend Piedmont Elementary. I am running for the school board because I wanted to ensure that someone with children in the system is on the board. I am also running to ensure that we have a school system that we can be proud of. My goals are to increase the standard of our facilities in Kanawha County because our children deserve top notch facilities to learn in.
2. What do you see as the role of a Board of Education member?
The role of a Board of Education member is to represent the people of the County and ensure that decisions are made in a transparent and professional manner that are in the best interest of the students. As the entity that is responsible for hiring the superintendent, the board should work to make sure the superintendent runs a system designed to increase academic achievement and promotes the value of a public education system. The Board should work with the community to ensure that their concerns are addressed by the administration and hold the administration accountable if valid concerns are not.
3. What qualifications and attributes lead you to believe you would be a good Kanawha County Board of Education member
I have been a member of the Board for the past 7 years. I have served as President of the board, on the RESA 3 board before it was abolished and on numerous task forces set up by the state Board of Education. I have also worked as an attorney to the state Senate, a clerk to a federal judge and I regularly work with numerous governmental instrumentalities in my practice of law. My wide range of experience with government has given me a back ground on how government should and should not work and I use that when making decisions.
4. For Incumbents, what are the greatest accomplishments of the Board during your term of service?
The greatest accomplishment of the Board during my term of service was the passage of the levy in 2018 at 100% of the cap. Just before I decided to run for the board, the excess levy that the previous board had proposed failed with less than 40% of the votes in favor of the levy. While I was on the board, I worked to instill trust in the school system by encouraging more communication from the system and identifying the area where the levy funds were needed the most. The levy passed and we have more funds for HVAC and roofs throughout the county as a result.
5. Kanawha County continues to face declining enrollment. What considerations should be given in terms of school facilities and infrastructure spending?
We need to continue to look at ways to get new facilities in our County so that we can continue to be an attractive option for education for residents of our county. We need to work with businesses throughout the county to encourage their involvement in public education so that they feel comfortable employing our graduates. We need to encourage entrepreneurism in our schools so that our graduates will be encouraged to start businesses in our state that will lead to more employment and more opportunities for our residents. We should keep this in mind when we build facilities in the future.
6. What are your views on the impacts of the pandemic and what would you do to close the learning gap created by this crisis?
The pandemic has had a terrible impact on our students in two different ways. Our students have academically fallen behind due to a loss of learning and lack of in class time. The students have had serious emotional issues that have occurred due to lack of socialization that have led to a lot of behavioral issues as well. I plan to support putting additional resources into our classrooms in the form of aids and/or extra teachers in order to ensure that our kids have the support necessary to get caught back up. I also have encouraged the summer program that will work with children during the off period so that the normal loss of learning during the summer is lessened. Finally, I think we should invest in giving resources to our after school programs and work collaboratively with them to help them bridge the learning loss that has occurred.
7. There are many ongoing pandemic-related challenges facing education, including teacher fatigue. How would you address these issues?
One way to address this is to put additional bodies in the classroom in the form of aids to help our teachers deal with the behavioral issues that are present, particularly in the middle school level. Another way to address the teacher fatigue issue is to look at ways we can compensate them more fairly for all the different roles that they play. Finally we need to look at ways to make sure our teachers know that we appreciate what they do for our children as much as possible. Rather than make up narratives about how teachers are teaching our children things that they are not teaching, we should thank them for their hard work and ability to do the best they can in a world where children are increasingly not getting the parental support they need.