At a March 17 meeting, School Building Authority Executive Director David Sneed said counties with local boards that are of one mind are more likely to be considered for capital improvement funding.

For this reason, although the Fayette County Board of Education has limited power while under state control, members’ willingness to work together and come to a consensus is paramount to the future of Fayette County Schools.

There are five members elected to the board of education, and two seats are up for this election. One person must be elected from each of the three magisterial districts in the county, but no more than two from each district can serve.

With Patsy Holliday and Pat Gray both holding seats representing the New Haven District and Board President Steve Bush elected from the Plateau, the open seats must come from the Valley and Plateau districts, although both could be elected from the Valley.

Board of Education candidate Jason Skaggs, Valley District, has decided to no longer fun for office. Although he will no longer be seeking election, the ballots have been printed and his name will appear.

 

Jennifer Bunner, Valley District

Jennifer Bunner is currently the director of Upward Bound, a program to provide college access to first generation students. She has worked in the education field for nearly 20 years. She has been a parent volunteer in schools for 18 years and has four children, 23, 21, 15 and 13.

1. The Fayette County Board of Education has had limited power since state takeover in 2010. How would you use a position on a board with limited authority to effect positive change for students? 

As a Board of Education member, I would work with other board members and the superintendent to achieve compliance and efficiency to regain local control. As a board member, I would represent citizens of the entire county as would each member, and as such, should set personal opinions aside and put the education of our children first.

2. In the 2014-2015 W.Va. General Summative Assessment, Fayette County ranks 50th out of 55 counties for the percentage of students testing proficient in Science and Reading/Language Arts. Fayette ranks 47th in Math. What do you consider the biggest impediment to student learning and how might it be resolved?

I believe that we have excellent, dedicated educators in Fayette County. We need to think outside the box and use our resources differently. I also think that we need to partner more with community businesses to be more involved in education and capitalize on the strengths and talents of our parents of our school-aged children. We have changed our curriculum and testing too often. We need to use the same curriculum long enough to gather longitudinal data to determine the effectiveness of the curriculum. It is my opinion that we should not teach to a test and not use a test that is only normed statewide but nationwide. Our curriculum should not be specific to West Virginia but have a more national or global set of learning objectives or at least be modeled after another county or state that is high-achieving.

3. What are your thoughts on Fayette’s facility crisis?

Regarding the facility crisis, it seems it is a matter of economics — if we cannot afford to maintain what we have, we need more money or less to take care of. If we were talking about someone who is living beyond their means, they would need to adjust their lifestyle by living on less or finding a higher paying job. I don’t think there is one right or wrong way to resolve this. We need to be thoughtful about our county’s education needs and look to the future of Fayette County. The state of our education and improvement should be paramount in our efforts and, quite frankly, all of West Virginia, as this will draw new business growth to our county and our state. West Virginia is the ONLY state losing population.  

 

Lou Jones, Valley District

I have been employed by the Fayette County Board of Education for 35 ½ years. I have sold real estate for the last 30 years in the Valley. I’m retired and now I am running for a second term on the board. The board has been controlled by the state and the board members have not been able to work for our county school system. It is so sad It has been very frustrating and disappointing that Fayette County Board has had no say on what has gone on with the state and our county school system. We have had in the last four years four superintendents. It is very hard to put a plan together and carry it out. Hopefully, working with the SBA will help us in fixing our schools and putting us on the right road for our students.

1. The Fayette County Board of Education has had limited power since state takeover in 2010. How would you use a position on a board with limited authority to effect positive change for students? 

As a board member for the last four years we have had our hands tied by the state. This board can only approve a trip for the students, student dispensatory action and board policies. I hope with the SBA trying to help our county we can move in a positive direction for our students. The students deserve an excellent education and I will do everything I can to make sure that it happens. We have excellent teachers and I think a bright future for our children. 

2. In the 2014-2015 W.Va. General Summative Assessment, Fayette County ranks 50th out of 55 counties for the percentage of students testing proficient in Science and Reading/Language Arts. Fayette ranks 47th in Math. What do you consider the biggest impediment to student learning and how might it be resolved?

Before the federal government Department of Education was formed, the United States ranked No. 1 in the world in education. Now we have federal government, the state and county. One shoe doesn’t fit all. What works in California may not work in West Virginia. We spend a lot of money trying to improve our teaching and testing. Standard test forms are used and in our count, Special Education children are lumped into the testing. Fayette County had a program implemented and our schools are working hard to bring up the test scores. In the last few years the scores are moving up the scale.

3. What are your thoughts on Fayette’s facility crisis?

Fayette County facilities have been overlooked for years. We have ignored the little things and now we have big problems. I think we can start by working on our facilities. Money is a big problem and hopefully the SBA will help. The board has a lot of work to do and with other board members I think we can bring this board together for the good of our children. I’m willing to work for the betterment of our children, our schools and a better curriculum. If we can get the state out of Fayette County, then we can begin to build a school system we can be proud of!

 

Steve Slockett, Valley District

I am a chemist by education, graduating from Glassboro State College. I sold, managed and serviced industrial water treatment programs for 31 years. I, also, have been a substitute teacher in the Fayette County School System and coached track/field and cross country at Fayetteville High School for one year. I have owned a sport memorabilia business for 28 years. I feel I am uniquely qualified to be member of the Fayette County Board of Education. The Fayette County School System is a $90 million business. I am the most well-rounded business person that is a candidate. My varied life and professional experiences will allow me to bring a common sense, a professional approach, a business savvy, and a fiscal responsibility to the board of education. I am prepared to build a better school system for our children.    

1. The Fayette County Board of Education has had limited power since state takeover in 2010. How would you use a position on a board with limited authority to effect positive change for students? 

I would be an agent of positive change by being an advocate for education. I plan on keeping the residents and parents of all students informed on the educational progress in Fayette County Schools on a regular basis. I plan on working with teachers and educational staff to build a better school system for our children. I plan on working with the State Board of Education and Supt. Terry George to correct deficiencies in the Fayette County School System. I have a goal of gaining local control of the Fayette County School System by July 1, 2018. 

2. In the 2014-2015 W.Va. General Summative Assessment, Fayette County ranks 50th out of 55 counties for the percentage of students testing proficient in Science and Reading/Language Arts. Fayette ranks 47th in Math. What do you consider the biggest impediment to student learning and how might it be resolved?

The results of the West Virginia General Summative Assessment are unacceptable. The primary reason I am a candidate for the Fayette County Board of Education is to increase student achievement. To increase student learning and achievement, I propose the following: (a). focus on improving the Learn to Read/Read to Learn Programs so that by the end of third grade all students read at grade level. If students cannot read, they can not learn. (b). increase efforts to bring certified teachers to every classroom in Fayette County. To attract certified teachers to the Fayette County School System, I recommend increasing teacher compensation by $5,000 per year. 

3. What are your thoughts on Fayette’s facility crisis?

There is a facility crisis in the Fayette County School System. We have too many unsafe and ill maintained schools in Fayette County. I want to make sure every school is well maintained, so that it is structurally sound and environmentally safe. I support developing a new community based and citizen supported Comprehensive Facility Plan. Hopefully, this plan will lead to school closures, reconfigurations and new school construction that is fiscally responsible.

 

Thomas “T.B.” Brown, Plateau District

Thomas “TB” Brown, a life-long resident of Fayette County, was raised in Mount Hope, W.Va., and attended Mount Hope Elementary, Junior, and High Schools, West Virginia Tech, and graduated from the College of West Virginia before continuing education at Concord University. He currently serves as president of Mount Hope Heritage and Hope Inc., a non-profit, and is chair of the City of Mount Hope’s Beautification Committee following retirement from the U.S. Department of Labor, Mine Safety and Health Administration after 30 years, where his main objective was the elimination of black lung disease. He is a life-long member of SS Peter and Paul Catholic Church where he has served in many capacities including Religion Instructor at SS Peter and Paul School, Eucharistic Minister, Lector, and Facilitator in adult and children’s classes and Treasurer of the Knights of Columbus.

1. The Fayette County Board of Education has had limited power since state takeover in 2010. How would you use a position on a board with limited authority to effect positive change for students? 

Permitting the state to take over Fayette County Board of Education was a colossal mistake. The past six years have done nothing but lead to a breakdown in trust between the board and the public caused mainly by a lack of honesty and transparency, frivolous spending, lack of maintenance and the board being out of touch with the people. As a member of the Board of Education, I will seek to restore public trust by eliminating waste and establishing a more transparent decision-making process. What we can do is work to refocus the board to its fundamental mission to educate our students. We need to show the state that we can be decisive and have the county returned to full control by stressing academics and giving the teachers the tools needed to do their job. Acquiring and retaining certified teachers is essential for improving education. We cannot sit by and let the state continue to preside over the worst decline of our county’s education system.

2. In the 2014-2015 W.Va. General Summative Assessment, Fayette County ranks 50th out of 55 counties for the percentage of students testing proficient in Science and Reading/Language Arts. Fayette ranks 47th in Math. What do you consider the biggest impediment to student learning and how might it be resolved?

The current academic performance numbers in Fayette County are troubling and unacceptable. This is one of the main reasons I entered the race for the board of education. Our students do not face one impediment; they face dozens of them. The biggest impediment to students learning is lack of personalized and individualized instruction caused by a lack of parental involvement and lack of time for learning. Long distances on buses only adds to this problem, is a waste of time, and in some instances a violation of the law. The board has to study how best to allocate personnel, who are our most valuable asset. We need to identify the schools with the worst student-teacher ratio, and work to add more, qualified teachers to make our classrooms true centers of learning.

3. What are your thoughts on Fayette’s facility crisis?

Fayette County’s facility crisis did not happen by accident, nor did it happen overnight. The current status of our facilities around our county is the result of years of abuse, neglect and deferred maintenance and the direct result of financial malfeasance. Sufficient funds are allocated to maintain our buildings. Last year Collins Middle School was considered to be safe and opened in August, then deemed unsafe just three months later and closed to support an unnecessary bond issue that the majority of citizens did not support. There was no independent investigation and no opportunity for a second opinion. The state voluntarily closed these buildings. They were not condemned as reported. Similar scenarios have happened at Meadow Bridge High School, and Ansted and Mount Hope Elementary Schools. Our schools are teetering on the brink of catastrophe, and there seems to be no plan of action. There needs to be a complete, thorough, and independent audit of maintenance, and people held accountable. Our county needs a comprehensive plan for addressing facility issues. We need to chart a course that will guarantee us the best possible facilities in which to educate our children. I feel consolidation should only be considered as a last resort and only if residents desire this and not to benefit one community at the cost of other communities. All students deserve equal opportunities.

 

Mark Hurt, Plateau District

I’m Mark A. Hurt and I’m married to Connie Hurt with seven children. I have an Associate’s Degree in Business Management and work in management for Oak Hill Kroger. I volunteer my time with the Fayette County Youth Soccer program as coach for the U4, U8, and U10 divisions. I believe our children are our future and our faculty members are the backbone for success in our children’s education

1. The Fayette County Board of Education has had limited power since state takeover in 2010. How would you use a position on a board with limited authority to effect positive change for students? 

I would work on the underlined issues that need to be corrected for us to take back control of Fayette County schools, which ultimately the students and faculty would benefit.

2. In the 2014-2015 W.Va. General Summative Assessment, Fayette County ranks 50th out of 55 counties for the percentage of students testing proficient in Science and Reading/Language Arts. Fayette ranks 47th in Math. What do you consider the biggest impediment to student learning and how might it be resolved?

It starts with qualified and certified teachers. We can attract qualified and certified teachers by funding PEIA and keeping our premiums and co-pays affordable for faculty members. My understanding is that we have money in the budget to fund PEIA which hasn’t been funded in years.

I would like to implement a call center ran by qualified volunteers to help parents, guardians and students with homework that they might not understand how to do. Let’s face it, a lot has changed since most of us was in school. I think a call center ran from 4 to 7 p.m. would not only help our students get better West Test scores, but would bond parents, guardians, and students together with education.

3. What are your thoughts on Fayette’s facility crisis?

The schools’ conditions didn’t happen overnight. Obviously with poor conditions throughout Fayette County schools, the buildings have not been maintained properly through poor decisions on where money is spent to bad judgement of money spent. People have got to be held accountable for their actions and take responsibility to look out for what is best for our students, faculty, and community.

 

Darrin McGuffin, Plateau District

I am a lifelong resident of Fayette County. My heritage and ties with Fayette County extend to my great-grandparents, who worked at the Kaymoor Mine in Fayetteville and for the C&O Railroad in Thurmond. I attended Oak Hill Elementary School, Collins Middle School and graduated from Oak Hill High School and Fayette Institute of Technology in 2003. I then attended Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, where I obtained an Associate’s Degree. Upon graduation, I chose to return to Fayette County because of my passion for the area and people, coupled with my desire to make a positive difference in the lives of those who live here.

I reside in Oak Hill with my wife, Tega, who is also a lifelong Fayette County resident and teacher at Oak Hill High School, and my son, Haden, who is 4 years old and will attend kindergarten in Fayette County public schools during the 2016-17 school year. I am a member of the Oak Hill High School LSIC, the United Steelworkers 8-89, and First Brethren Church of Oak Hill.

1. The Fayette County Board of Education has had limited power since state takeover in 2010. How would you use a position on a board with limited authority to effect positive change for students? 

Given the limited role of the board, it is imperative any elected members take a different approach toward education. As a member of the Board of Education, one serves as an advocate for our students. Possessing and showing leadership skills to gain support for education is crucial, especially when considering the current issues facing Fayette County. For years, there has been a division in Fayette County concerning facilities and as a result, the principle of education has been thrown aside. Bridging that gap and providing unity is a priority for any elected member to this board. I firmly believe that as a Board of Education member, it is your responsibility to show unity among fellow board members along with gaining the trust of our citizens. Building a positive image of our county for our students is the most important role you can play in the future of our education system. Additionally, if elected to the Board of Education, I would like to effect positive change by implementing programs that have shown to be positive influences for children such as providing mentor partnerships with business and community leaders, a job shadowing experience for high school students, and pursuing more grants for programs.

2. In the 2014-2015 W.Va. General Summative Assessment, Fayette County ranks 50th out of 55 counties for the percentage of students testing proficient in Science and Reading/Language Arts. Fayette ranks 47th in Math. What do you consider the biggest impediment to student learning and how might it be resolved?

Traditionally Fayette County has struggled with maintaining and improving test scores countywide. There are three areas I would like to focus on to achieve student learning: certified teachers, educator-led curriculum enhancements, and attendance/truancy issues. First and foremost, the biggest impediment to student learning is not having a certified teacher standing in the front of the classroom. Statewide, there is a shortage of 600 certified teachers, and Fayette County also suffers from a teacher shortage. Attracting and retaining highly qualified educators is critical in improving test scores. We also need to listen to our educators. They are the experts in the classroom and if we tap into their knowledge, we can develop curriculum, classroom practices, and tools that teachers feel will help test scores. Attendance and truancy also serve as an impediment to student learning. Initiatives to promote attendance, and provide penalties for excessive truancy, must be explored in-depth. Providing motivation for students to perform their best on the test is a job that must be shared by parents and school system personnel alike. Investing in broader course offerings, technology, facilities, and qualified educators will promote a more diverse curriculum, which will provide richness and quality to the educational process.

3. What are your thoughts on Fayette’s facility crisis?

For many years our county has struggled with fully addressing our deteriorating school facilities. The West Virginia Board of Education and the School Building Authority are the determining agents for facilities in our county. I will support the process the SBA has set forth in developing a Capital Improvement Committee, on which I have been tapped to serve, in which all communities will receive representation and will take a data-driven approach to finding the best solution for our facility crisis. When it comes to facilities, the status quo is not working and changes need to be made. I am going into this process with an open heart and an open mind. I am not partial as to which facilities would remain open, closed, or receive renovations. I, like so many others in this county, just want to see a sensible step forward in a positive direction. It is time we start working together to bring education back to the forefront.

 

 

 

• • •

Fayette County Schools All Fund Expenditures for Fiscal Year 2016

Total: $82,276,705

Salaries and Employee Benefits:  $63,547,710 - 77.33 percent

Purchased Professional Services (includes employee training) : $946,500 - 1.15 percent

Purchased Property Services (utilities, maintenance services, etc.): $2,419,050 - 2.94 percent

Other Purchased Services (insurance, advertising, travel): $833,272 -1.01 percent

Supplies: $6,716,344 (includes vehicle supplies and textbooks) - 8.16 percent

Furniture & Equipment (fees and dues, debt-related expenses, etc): $141,250 - 0.17 percent

Other: $1,103,968 - 1.34 percent 

Reserves & Transfers: $6,571,611 - 7.9 percent

 

All Funds Revenue for Fiscal Year 2016

Total: $74,417,349

Property Taxes $19,661,544 - 26.42 percent

Other Local Sources: $299,600 - 0.40 percent

State Aid to Schools: $39,964,893 - 53.7 percent

Federal: $8,346,522 - 11.22 percent

Transfers in & Other Sources: $2,144,790 - 2.88 percent

Carryover Balance Required by State: $4,000,000 - 5.38 percent   

 

• • • 

According to Attendance Director Judy Lively, Fayette County Schools is seeing an enrollment decline of 150 students a year.

The following is a list of schools and their enrollment numbers:

Ansted Elem.- 215 ( K-5)

Divide Elem- 202 (K-5)

Fayetteville Elem- 396 (K-6)

Gatewood Elem.-98 (K-4)

Gauley Bridge Elem.- 170 (K - 5)

Meadow Bridge Elem. 228 (K-6)

Mt. Hope Elem- 231 (K-5)

Rosedale Elem- 256 (K-4)

Valley Elem- 303 (K-5)

New River Elem. -684 (K-4)

Ansted. Middle- 276 (5-8)

Collins Middle- 742 (5-8)

Fayetteville High- 469 (7-12)

Meadow Bridge High- 225 (7-12)

Midland Trail High- 337 (9-12)

Oak Hill High- 819 (9-12)

Valley High-540 (6-12)

 

 

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