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Three Seats Available For Wetzel BOE

May 2, 2018
Wetzel Chronicle

Four county residents are each vying for one of the three seats available on the Wetzel County Board of Education. Those candidates, along with their respective districts, are as follows: Brian Price, District Two; H. John Rogers, District Three; Amy Cooley, District Two; and Jay Yeager, District One. The maximum eligible to be elected from each district is as follows: District One, 1; District Two, 2; and District Three, 1.

The Wetzel Chronicle sent simple questionnaires, and a request for a brief biography, to each candidate. Price, Rogers, and Yeager responded.

Price resides with his family in Paden City. As a 1987 graduate of Paden City High School he was excited to bring his family home to Paden City in 2011.

Price and his wife Debra (Director of Bands) have dedicated countless hours to the students in Paden City Schools.

"I'm looking forward to bringing that same energy to all Wetzel County Schools. Let's work together to provide a quality education for our children. Doing so will help secure their personal futures and strengthen our community in the process. Your support and vote on May 8th is greatly appreciated."

Rogers is a 1958 graduate of Reader High School. He practiced law in Wetzel County until 2012 when, "due to cabal of my enemies, foreign and domestic, I was involuntarily retired." Rogers said he has continued on as a petty flogger.

Rogers said he is a status-seeking Methodist, "I.E. I have joined John Wesley in the Anglican communion." Rogers noted Wesley believed that the soul continued to progress toward "perfection" after death.

Rogers also noted he has signed a Taxpayer Protection Pledge, pledging that he will oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes.

Rogers noted, if elected to the board, he can walk to work.

Yeager is seeking a seat on the county's board of education. Yeager and his wife Barbie reside in Reader, where Yeager has lived for the past 34 years. Together, the Yeagers have two sons and a granddaughter.

Yeager is a graduate of Magnolia High School and a graduate of West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Education and a master's degree in Education Administration, with more than 45 additional graduate hours.

He retired from Wetzel County Schools with 37 years experience as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, administrator, and assistant superintendent. Presently, Yeager serves as a substitute teacher for Wetzel County Schools.

* * What do you think is one main change people would like to see in the school system. How do you propose this change be made, if it can be made?

* Price: Several in our community have shared that they would like to see more offerings in skilled trades. Not every student will choose to pursue a college education. Skilled tradesman are a vital asset to any community and the various industries in our area. Though I appreciate the opportunities for some of our students to attend the Mid-Ohio Valley Technical Institute in St. Marys, I believe we can do more locally. I understand that some financial resources will have to be allocated for this purpose. Cooperatives with West Virginia Northern Community College will also aid in this effort. At minimum we need to teach our students that learning a skill that is valuable within the job market will aid them in life after graduation.

* Rogers: There will be prayer in schools within one year, or I will resign.

* Yeager: More flexibility in the school calendar. The general public believes that school should not start before Labor Day and should be out before Memorial Day. Snow and icy road conditions cause schools to be closed during the winter months. If possible, try to keep schools open by running school bus routes that are on the main roads which are treated first by the WVDOH. School bus routes on secondary roads that have not been treated should be delayed or canceled. Students from these areas would not be counted absent if their school bus did not run, but the county schools could remain open and not require make-up days in the summer months. Teachers could prepare "snow packets" for students when they were not able to attend school because of inclement weather. These packets would allow students to not fall behind in their studies. Several other counties have started "snow packets" for their students, especially in counties that experience harsh winter conditions such as the mountains. The drawback in this plan is that the West Virginia Department of Education controls the creation of school calendars with a whole host of regulations. Getting around these regulations is sometimes difficult, if not impossible, but it is worth a try.

* * The school system has been blessed in the past few years due to revenue from the oil and gas industry. The extra funds have allowed for improvements at school facilities throughout the county. That being said, the board has debated previously on whether or not wallets need to be tightened, to prepare for periods of time when we might not be as blessed with extra funds. What is your take on this issue? Also are there areas where you think more money should be invested?

* Price: First, I am appreciative of the investments to improve our school facilities. Providing safe, secure, and effective facilities is not just a legal requirement but an obligation to the parents of our students, to the students themselves, and the staff who work in our school system. It has been noted by the board that the maintenance budget was often the first to see cuts over the years. The increased revenue has been helpful in providing upgrades and improvements that may have been long overdue because of the lack of funds in the past.

I do believe a level of discipline should be exercised as it relates to the use of funds. At the passing of the recent levy the citizens of Wetzel County have chosen to invest in education. It is a sobering responsibility to oversee that these funds are used wisely. At times we may need to set aside funds so we are prepared for the unexpected. With every dollar spent we need to ask ourselves, "how does this improve the quality of education for our students?"

As to where more money should be invested, I like to invest in people. The faculty and staff who daily interact with our children deserve our respect and admiration. When possible, we need to find ways to show that appreciation by improving the quality of life for them and their families.

* Rogers: Rogers said he will "put it to a vote of the people as to whether or not they want to invest in artificial turf for our football fields," similar to those "on the other side of the river did."

* Yeager: The citizens of Wetzel County have always supported the county schools by passing a 100 percent excess levy every five years. The recent influx of monies from the natural gas industry has allowed Wetzel County Schools extra funds from the excess levy to hire more personnel, improve school facilities, buy additional school buses, provide supplemental health, dental, and vision insurance for all employees, annual salary increments, and so forth. It has been a blessing for a school system that in the past always had to be frugal with their finances due to the lack of heavy industry in the county. But caution must be shown in spending these monies. Rainy day funds need to be created and maintained in the event that the natural gas monies decrease or disappear. Salaries and benefits are the biggest expense for any county school system. Caution must be taken any time extra personnel are hired and personnel cuts must take place when the opportunity arises. Hopefully this can be done by attrition through retirements and resignations, but that is not always possible. The number one responsibility for any county board of education is to maintain a balanced budget. Sometimes difficult choices must be made to do this.

There are couple of areas where hopefully funds can be utilized. The most important is maintaining a competitive salary and benefit package for school employees. The nationwide teacher shortage has made attracting young, talented teachers to West Virginia a monumental task. Wetzel County Schools offers a salary package which includes supplemental insurance and annual salary supplements which other counties are not able to offer. This needs to continue if Wetzel County Schools are going to be able to hire and keep the best and brightest teachers. The second area I would like to see money spent, would be the hiring of a "PRO" officer at every school in the county. With the large number of school shootings that are occurring on almost a daily basis, an armed security person is needed at every school, including our elementary schools.

 
 

 

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