Monongalia County School Board And Administration Operating By Stealth


Voter turnout in Monongalia County yesterday during the election of two school board members was 22 percent of registered voters, and a much smaller fraction of voting age citizens.

School board incumbent Nancy Walker received 40 percent of the vote of the 22 percent of registered voters who cast ballots. Do the math and it works out that the percentage of the voting age population who voted for Walker was in the single digits, about 9 percent.

Newcomer Ron Lytle received even somewhat less support: 32 percent of the vote of the 22 percent of registered voters who cast ballots – about 7 percent of the voting age population.

West Virginia code mandates that school board members be elected during the spring primary elections when voter turnout is always lower than in the fall general elections. This law should be changed. It allows school boards and administrations to exist and operate with far too little public involvement, let alone oversight.

§3-5-6. Election of county board of education members at primary elections.
(a) An election for the purpose of electing members of the county board of education shall be held on the same date as the primary elections, as provided by law, but upon a nonpartisan ballot printed for the purpose.

The Monongalia County school board badly needs much more public involvement on the board itself. The number of school board members should be raised to 7 or 9 or even 11 seats, as in other areas of the country.

No such initiative has come from Mon Schools nor seems likely to. On the contrary, Mon Schools evidently prefers to operate in the shadows, out of ready sight and sound and reach of the public.

For example, why has Mon Schools refused for years to publicly broadcast or podcast its school board meetings online or otherwise? Doing so would be inexpensive and easy. It would be the right thing to do. Mon Schools does the wrong thing, apparently not wanting the public to see what goes on where and when the decisions are made that affect so many children and families. Mon Schools’ decisions are too often “bad” and full of “tricks” and “misguided” with “something to hide” just as West Virginia media stalwart Bray Cary said of Mon Schools’ outrageous punitive FOIA policy decision a couple years ago.

The longer that Mon Schools and school districts everywhere are allowed to continue to operate by stealth in the shadows, the longer will be the arrival of badly needed change. And the longer delayed will be safe, healthy, and high quality educational experiences, schools, community centers and activities for everyone.

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