The Daily Mail editorial board met with candidates for the Putnam County school board today.
There are four non-partisan candidates vying for three seats, but two are running unopposed.
Diana McCallister and Craig Spicer are running in the contested third magisterial district.
Rob Cunningham of the second district and Butch Legg of the first district are the unopposed candidates.
Whoever wins in the primary election on May 13 will automatically join the school board because non-partisan elections are not part of the general election.
Spicer said the board’s job is to navigate whatever the law dictates.
Spicer says the school board can’t change legislation but has to be successful within the framework provided.
Cunningham says the idea behind Common Core is great, but the application is faulty.
He says teachers have voiced concerns over Common Core. He said there are “fears” surrounding the program.
Cunningham says Common Core and federally mandated programs sometimes restrict teachers in Putnam County.
Spicer says the school system has a policy to fund its libraries so students are guaranteed the Internet access that they need.
Cunningham says a real problem with implementing a digital learning program is access to technology and the Internet. Not everyone has it.
Spicer says Buffalo High School has started a Bring Your Own Device program.
Cunningham hopes the board can secure funding to get students the technology they need.
Cunningham is speaking about technology in the classroom. He says it comes down to funding, but he sees digital learning in Putnam County’s future.
Spicer says the board is having difficulty getting next year’s school calendar together.
Spicer says it might be on the horizon, but the board has not officially discussed it.
Spicer is speaking about year-round school. He says there is a lot of buzz in the community about it. He says there is evidence that supports the model, but the whole system would have to implement it for it to work.
Cunningham says the county’s vocational school was once where cast-off students went. Today, every student gets college credit for the classes they take there.
Spicer says there are so many ways for students to be at-risk these days. He said the school board has to address drug problems and other issues he didn’t have to when he was in school.
Cunningham, who graduated from Winfield High in 1987, says Putnam County enforces safe schools. He said he is a “huge proponent” of school safety. Part of the reason he wants to see students moved out of portables.
Cunningham and Spicer say being on the board isn’t about the money (they only receive $100 for each board meeting). They said it’s about seeing kids succeed.
Spicer says the school board has built a consensus in the county. Instead of being “top-down” they go to individual schools to find out what they need.
Spicer says Putnam County is very fortunate to be able to do what they can despite having fewer students and less funds than larger counties like Kanawha.
Spicer says the school board as worked with the state school building authority to build new schools and get funding for facility upgrades at others.
Cunningham is speaking about facility upgrades. He says Hurricane Middle School will probably be the next school to have work done.
At one time two-thirds of Winfield Middle students were in portables. Cunningham said his daughter, who goes there, never had class inside the school last year.
Spicer is speaking about portable classrooms. There were 88 portables but school officials are working to get students into real classrooms.
Spicer says the process is very confusing.
Spicer is now speaking about the school board election process. It is a non-partisan election, so party affiliation is not taken into consideration.
Cunningham says there is always something to improve on, but the people of Putnam County are committed to education. “We push our children to be the best they can, sometimes in spite of regulation.”
Spicer says its a constant battle to keep local policies in line with state and federal policy.
Spicer says a lot of education regulations make things difficult for local systems at times. “Theory and application are entirely different things.”
Spicer says counties now have more flexibility in scheduling their calendars. Some schools have missed more than 17 days, some have missed fewer. It’s up to the county to determine what to do with its schedule.
Cunningham says the school board is working on a calendar that will require missed days to be made up starting next year.
Candidates are talking about missed school. Schools missed 17 days due to weather and the water crisis.
Cunningham is a lifelong Winfield resident and has served on the school board since he was appointed to fill a seat in Oct. 2013. He wants students to be successful when they enter the job market.
Spicer is a dentist and has been on the Putnam school board for four terms. His goal is to make sure every child has the tools they need to be competitive on state, national and global levels.
Rob Cunningham and Craig Spicer are the only candidates in attendance. Diana McCallister and Butch Legg are absent.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm and is filed under Elections. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.