2020 WV primary candidates: Kanawha County Board of Education

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Ward 1

Ric Cavender (Incumbent)

Education: Bachelor’s degree

Occupation: Executive director of a nonprofit organization

Q: What is your stance on the possibility of charter schools in Kanawha County?

A: Throughout my first term on the Board of Education, and during the statewide debate happening in the Legislature, my position on charter schools was very clear. While we have been successful in remaining solvent, we still must work hard every day to fund our school system and ensure our students have the tools they need to succeed. The implementation of a charter school would divert much-needed funding from our school system, all while not following the standards and curriculum set forth by the state and county school system. For these reasons alone, I am not in support of charter schools in Kanawha County. We must do all we can to support and foster the education and growth of our students, and at this time, I believe charter schools would ultimately dilute those efforts.

Q: Do you support abandoning the Kanawha superintendent search and promoting from within? Why or why not?

A: My position on the process in which we took to hire the new superintendent has been well documented in local media over the past couple of months. Since the day our current superintendent announced his intent to retire, I was consistently vocal about the importance of following a proper search process. As I said during the last board meeting, the individual whom was brought forward to the board for an immediate hire may have very well been the best choice for the job, but now we will never know for sure because the majority of board members opted to forego this very important search process.

While I was in the minority on all votes concerning the process that was ultimately used to hire the new superintendent who will start on July 1, I understand the importance of all board members working very closely with whomever the leader of the school system is to ensure the success of all students, teachers, and every other employee in the county.

While I’ll never support foregoing a search to hire the chief executive of the largest county school system in the state, I will always strive to work closely with my fellow board members and the new superintendent moving forward.

Jennifer Bulger

Education: Doctor of chiropractic

Occupation: Chiropractor

Q: What is your stance on the possibility of charter schools in Kanawha County?

A: Being a former resident of New York state for 13 years, I am familiar with charter schools and the purpose and intent behind them. I will also say that I am not against any form of education because I believe different educational philosophies work for different children. I do have a huge concern when we talk about the possibility of opening charter schools in Kanawha County. The talk of paying for them out of our current public education budget is a big issue for me. When we are having to pass levies to replace HVAC systems, roofs, etc., I worry how we will share the same amount of money with additional schools. The funds we currently have are not enough. There are issues and concerns in the schools we have that need addressed. So to take from those to initiate/start/fund new charter schools, I do not support that.

Q: Do you support abandoning the Kanawha superintendent search and promoting from within? Why or why not?

A: As a mother of two children in Kanawha County schools, when the details we were given on the hiring of the new superintendent, I was angry, frustrated and felt betrayed. However, when any information is given to us by someone else, we have to dig deeper, we have to do our own research. In asking questions, gathering information, and talking to those that have/had a personal relationship with the new superintendent, I am confident we will have success with him. At this point, I would not agree to waste tax payers dollars on a search if there are highly qualified people within the system. In the future, I would like to see all jobs posted and allow anyone interested to apply for the position.

Ward 3

Jim J. Crawford (Incumbent)

Education: West Virginia State University, bachelor’s degree; West Virginia University, master’s degree

Occupation: Retired teacher and coach

The Gazette-Mail could not reach Mr. Crawford for a response to a candidate questionnaire. The following is biographical information from the Kanawha County Board of Education website.

Jim Crawford has served on the Kanawha County Board of Education since 2000. Mr. Crawford graduated from Winfield High School and West Virginia State University at Institute, where he played varsity football and received a bachelor of science degree in education. He received his master’s degree in education from West Virginia University. He and his wife, Marilyn, are the parents of one son who also teaches in the school system. Crawford is a retired teacher/coach from St. Albans High School, having served the Kanawha County School system for 56 years and served as an assistant football coach, golf coach, head wrestling coach, head girls track coach, and athletic director. Crawford is a past president of the West Virginia School Boards Association. He currently serves on the board of the WVSSAC.

Barry Holstein

Education: West Virginia Institute of Technology, bachelor’s degree; University of Charleston, master’s degree

Occupation: Program analyst, U.S. Department of the Treasury

Q: What is your stance on the possibility of charter schools in Kanawha County?

A: In recent legislation, public charter schools became a legal option in West Virginia. All board members are required to review and assess charter school applications that are presented before the board. As a board member, I will diligently assess any application presented, seek counsel from stakeholders and vote in a way that will make Kanawha County schools a better school district and improve educational opportunities and outcomes. To do otherwise places political ideology above what is best for students.

Q: Do you support abandoning the Kanawha superintendent search and promoting from within? Why or why not?

A: The school board owes it to the parents, students, school employees and taxpayers to hire the most qualified individual for the vitally important leadership position of superintendent. Without an interview process, how can the board truly select the best person for the job? As a board member, I would insist on a search and selection process, starting first with a regional search and expanding as needed until a great candidate is found. Certainly, in cases where one or more candidates are found to be equally qualified, I would give greater consideration to the internal candidate.

Candidate Emily Lanham did not return a Gazette-Mail questionnaire.

Funerals for Saturday, May 30, 2020

Barlow Jr., Jack - 3 p.m., Barlow Bonsall Funeral Home, Charleston.

Cunningham, Jack - 2 p.m., Valley View Memorial Park, Hurricane.

Fields, Alice - 2 p.m., Letart-Evergreen Cemetery, Letart.

Halstead, Edna - 11 a.m., Danville Memorial Park.

Lovejoy, Bob - 11 a.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Morris, Lewis - 1 p.m., Leonard Johnson Funeral Home, Marmet.

Summers, Matthew - 1 p.m., Haven of Rest Memorial Gardens.