An off-year primary election seldom stirs up the interest a presidential election does — school board elections even more so.
But, the school board election is one of the most important ones a voter can participate in according to Pete Thaw, a five-term member of the Kanawha County Board of Education and its current president.
“The board of education is kind of left behind, and people forget we spend 70 percent of every tax dollar in Kanawha County,” Thaw said in an interview about the many issues the school board is facing and could face in the future.
While Thaw consistently is the lead vote-getter, he faces several newcomers who have the potential to unseat him and inject the board with new ideas.
Ryan White, Vic Sprouse, Tracy White and Curtis Robinson are all parents of children in the school system and want to see positive changes made for the betterment of all students. Calvin McKinney also seeks to make improvements, but is by far the most experienced of the new candidates with 40 years as a teacher and principal.
Also running is Becky Jordon, a three-term board member seeking re-election. While her attempt to enact a teacher dress code policy this year was met with heated opposition, she expects excellence from students and teachers alike.
The school board sets the school calendar as well as policies that affect more than students and teachers. While its five members do oversee the school system, they are also the most powerful policy makers at the local level.
In the words of Thaw himself: Voters should have an interest in the board and get involved “regardless of who gets elected.”
There’s still a few hours left until we know which of the seven candidates will take the three open seats. For live coverage of the school board election, follow @charleywest and @wvschools on Twitter.