Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, today introduced a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment that would allow West Virginia voters to elect members of the state Board of Education.
Unger’s resolution, if passed, would reduce board members’ current nine-year terms to six years. The nonpartisan elections would be staggered, with only three board members coming up for election at any one time. They would be elected according to the state’s three congressional districts, so control of the board could not be concentrated in one area of the state.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, referred the resolution to the Senate’s Judiciary and Finance committees.
The West Virginia Constitution currently requires members of the state school board be appointed by the governor for nine-year terms. Governors can remove members before their terms expire only in cases of “official misconduct, incompetence, neglect of duty or gross immorality,” but they can fill vacancies if board members die or resign.
Speaking on the Senate floor Thursday morning, Unger addressed criticisms that electing state board of education members would politicize that bod.y
“If you don’t think there’s politics on the state board of education (already), I’m not sure you can see any of this,” he said.