July 2, 2014 - Volume 34 Issue 20





Jim Crawford Sr. (Kanawha) has assumed office as West Virginia School Board Association president for FY15.
Other executive officers include:

  • Gregory Prudich (Mercer), President-elect;
  • Sam Sentelle, Ph.D. (Putnam), Vice President; and,
  • Barbara L. Parsons, Ed.D. (Monongalia), Financial Officer.

Gary M. Kable (Jefferson) serves as immediate past president.

A subsequent issue of The Legislature will contain biographical information regarding each officer.



Meeting Sunday, June 22, 2014, in conjunction with the West Virginia School Board Association’s Orientation’14 (Waterfront Place Hotel, Morgantown), the WVSBA Executive Board acted on several matters.

The Board:

  1. Voted to select the following county board members to represent the Association on the County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC), a statutory body that considers matters regarding county board training initiatives. Members selected include: Jim Crawford Sr. (Kanawha), WVSBA President; Barbara L. Parsons, Ed.D. (Monongalia), Financial Officer; Gary M. Kable (Jefferson), WVSBA Immediate Past President; and, Chris Carder, a member of the Ohio County Board of Education. Alternates include Jim McKnight (Pleasants), an association past president (1990-1991) and Robin Rector (Kanawha), Region 3 Co-Director.
  2. Concurred that Executive Director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D. meet with Virginia School Boards Association Gina Patterson in late July 2014 for additional program considerations concerning a joint training session that would involve the West Virginia and Virginia School Boards Associations. VSBA is considering “NASCAR and School Board Members:  What Do They Have in Common?”  As the theme. The session would be held in Bristol, Virginia, in March 2015. Any programmatic recommendations will require County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC) approval. 
  3. Agreed with a proposal presented by the WVSBA Executive Director regarding more “forthright” communications and involvement between the Association and several state groups and entities, including the state Board of Education, State Superintendent of Schools, state Legislature, and state Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA). In a secondary sense, greater involvement could be encouraged to occur with various education groups and associations as well, according to O’Cull.  
  4. Approved an ad hoc committee whose purpose would be to examine the report of the February 20, 2014, Strategic Planning Committee meeting. The ad hoc committee, to be chaired by Kable, will identify broad priorities that may have emerged from that report, recommending a prioritization of those various report findings, subject to Executive Board approval. The committee also will determine matters regarding any future role and involvement of Thomas A. Heywood, Esq., Managing Partner Bowles Rice LLP, who facilitated the February 20 meeting and/or other potential facilitators or consultants and will ascertain whether or not the ad hoc committee, once these objectives have been made and presented for executive board consideration, should be continued.

    Kable’s recommendation was amended by the Executive Board so that members of the Board will select three or four items relating to main report areas, forwarding suggestions relative to these matters to Mr. Kable.

    The list of items and any subsequent Committee actions will be considered during the Association’s FY14 Delegate Assembly Delegate Assembly which will be held in conjunction with WVSBA Conference ’14 which is slated for September 12/13 in Charleston (Marriott Town Center Hotel).

    As recommended by Mr. Kalbe and approved by the executive board, members of the ad hoc committee, should they agree to serve, would include: Morgan K. “Mike” Davis (Wyoming); Suzanne Oxley, Esq. (Cabell); Rector; Rev. Stephen Baldwin Jr. (Greenbrier), McKnight;  Michael D. “Mike” Blair (Wetzel), Kathy McNeill (Preston), and Scotty Miley (Grant). 

    Ex Officio (non-voting members) would include the remaining members of the Executive Committee.

  5. Voted to provide a written expression of thanks to Del. Mary M. Poling, D-Barbour, House Education Committee Chair, thanking her for her support and advocacy for public education, including various legislation she supported on behalf of WVSBA.
  6. Endorsed the revisions to the Constitution and Bylaws as official documents as approved by delegates to the organization’s FY15 Annual Business Meeting which was held in conjunction with the association’s 2014 Winter Conference in late February.
  7. Agreed with a recommendation from the Executive Director that a report relating to “State and Condition of County Boards of Education in West Virginia” be provided annually as part of the organization’s “fall conference.” The association executive director and/or association officers would provide the report, beginning with Conference ’14 which will be held September 12/13 in Charleston (Marriott Town Center Hotel).
  8. Approved an initiative whereby WVSBA will provide technical assistance to certain county boards, including county boards facing potential state Board of Education intervention, county boards operating under state Board intervention, boards facing fiscal difficulties, boards facing leadership issues or other issues. The Executive Director is to develop a working framework for the initiative, presenting it to the executive board later in the summer.



A total 119 individuals attended the West Virginia School Board Association’s Orientation ’14 which was held June 23-25, 2014, in Morgantown (Waterfront Place Hotel).

Attendees included 70 of the state’s 73 county boards of education members-elect who were elected in the May 13, 2014, Primary Election, 43 veteran county boards of education members and 6 county schools superintendents.

For more information regarding Orientation, refer to “News” in this issue of The Legislature as well as the two articles included in the “Association” section relating to curricular matters and communications.   



The annual West Virginia School Board Association Presidents Retreat will be held July 11 and 12, 2014, at The Resort at Glade Springs, Daniels.

Presidents Retreat training presentations relate to roles, functions and duties of county boards of education presidents, including statutory duties, as well as effective meeting management techniques, and leadership considerations.

Gus Penix, Ed.D., executive director of the state Office of Education Performance Audits (OEPA0 will discuss the West Virginia Board of Education’s newly-adopted “A through F Grading System for West Virginia Schools.”

That presentation will include a large emphasis on county board duties and responsibilities regarding the system, including monitoring and oversight considerations.

Penix also will discuss ways in which county boards may acquire information that would alert the board to potential “warning signs” regarding issues that, if left unchecked, could lead to state board considerations for intervention.

A copy of the program will be posted on the West Virginia School Board Association website early next week.



County board members and county superintendents have received information regarding the House Bill 2940 meetings which are required to be held this summer during July and August.

House Bill 2940, which embodies West Virginia Code §18-2-26(a), requires  all county schools superintendents  within the same Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) to meet together “to identify administrative, coordinating and other county level services and functions that may be shared between or among the county boards, especially when resignations, retirements, staffing realignments or similar events may occur. The meeting shall be a special meeting of each participating county board, to be called pursuant to [§18—5-4} solely for the purposes set forth in this section.”

The state Board of Education is required to approve the format for the meetings. Format for the meetings, as proposed by WVSBA and endorsed by the County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC), will be considered at the state Board’s July 9, 2014, meeting in Charleston.

Meeting Dates and Sites

The following are the dates and sites for the meetings:  

  • Region 1 (McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh, Summers, Wyoming County Boards of Education)
    July 17 (Thursday)
    Tamarack Conference Center, Beckley

  • Region 2 (Cabell, Lincoln, Logan, Mason, Mingo, Wayne County Boards of Education)
    July 16 (Wednesday)
    St. Mary’s Conference Center, Huntington,

  • Region 3 (Boone, Clay, Kanawha, Putnam County Boards of Education)
    July 23 (Wednesday)
    Kanawha County Board Central Office, Charleston

  • Region 4 (Braxton, Fayette, Greenbrier, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Webster County Boards of Education)
    July 31 (Thursday)
    Summersville Convention & Visitors Bureau, Summersville

  • Region 5 (Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wirt, Wood County Boards of Education)
    August 6 (Wednesday)
    Comfort Inn, Mineral Wells

  • Region 6 (Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Wetzel County Boards of Education)
    August 14 (Thursday)
    Oglebay Resort, Wheeling

  • Region 7 (Barbour, Doddridge, Gilmer, Harrison, Lewis, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, Randolph,
    Taylor, Tucker, Upshur County Boards of Education)
    August 20 (Wednesday)
    Bridgeport Conference Center, Bridgeport

  • Region 8 (Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, Morgan, Pendleton County Boards of Education)
    August 28 (Thursday)
    Holiday Inn, Martinsburg

Editor’s Note: All meetings commence at 6:00 p.m. and include a dinner. Moreover, members are authorized to receive compensation for attending the meetings and will also receive school board member training credits.

If approved by the state Board, the format for the 2014 meetings will include the status of the report from the meetings as presented to the state Legislature’s Oversight Commission on Educational Accountability and the state Board of Education in November and December 2013, respectively.

Additionally, county boards will be led in general discussions concerning the “sharing of services” concepts as outlined in the legislation.
Time also will be allotted for discussions regarding regional matters of concern.

Association Executive Board officers, working with WVSBA Executive Director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D., will lead the discussions.

RESA Executive Directors and Jason Butcher, who coordinates the state Board of Education’s relations with the various RESAs is invited to attend and participate in the sessions, including any and all discussions that occur.

For more information, please contact the WVSBA office at 304.346.0571.

Here is the link to the 2013 statute:



By Jim Wallace

When two Ohio County educators gave a presentation at the WVSBA’s Orientation ’14 conference, much of the discussion centered on the wisdom of West Virginia’s adoption of Common Core Content Standards and Objectives.

Mary Lu Hutchins, director of student services for the Ohio County schools, explained that Common Core is the latest in a long line of education reforms. She said West Virginia leaders, including a former state superintendent and former Gov. (now U.S. Sen.) Joe Manchin were among those who helped create Common Core through a consortium that included most states. In West Virginia, it has been adapted for the needs of the state’s students as the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, she said.

Hutchins said the goals of Common Core are to assure that:

  1. Students have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and careers.
  2. There are fewer, clearer and higher expectations for student learning.
  3. Those expectations are based on kindergarten-through-12th-grade learning progression for college and career readiness.
  4. There are multiple rounds of feedback.

“It’s not anything new and different. It’s not what you see on the Internet.” – Chris Carder

Chris Carder, a member of the Ohio County school board and a former teacher and principal, said the purpose of the Common Core is for students to be able to learn the skills they need and be able to apply them. “It’s not anything new and different,” she said. “It’s not what you see on the Internet.”

The difference, Carder said, is that Common Core attempts to teach students how to solve problems in multiple ways and provide them with better understanding of what they are doing.

Some board members have misgivings about Common Core.

But when the session shifted to questions, it was clear that not all of the school board members present were fans of the Common Core. John Ward of Hampshire County said he thought the reason West Virginia has Common Core is that the federal government doled out money for it.

Hutchins said West Virginia did apply for federal Race to the Top money but didn’t get it. “So our signing on to the Common Core didn’t affect whether or not we were accepted in Race to the Top,” she said. “What actually did happen was Bill Gates did invest a lot of money. Bill Gates was the biggest investor of all.” Hutchins said Gates elicited support from a group of teachers in 2009 and hired some of them. She was invited to join the group but declined because she had just become an administrator and didn’t have time to devote to the group. She said the group that wrote the standards included teachers and business people.

Ward said that school boards must follow the Open Meetings law. “But yet, our state government jams this stuff down our throat without having any of the people in the state of West Virginia have any say at all in the curriculum for our students,” he said. “I see this as a parent, and this is why I ran for the school board. I am pro-teacher and definitely pro-parent as a parent. I feel for the teachers, because the government keeps changing the curriculum on our teachers and expecting them to have this, and then our students come home and, because of the government change in our curriculum, the parents don’t understand what the hell is going on at school and how to do a match problem anymore.”

That leads to negative attitudes towards teachers, Ward said. “And I blame our state government for putting the teachers and parents against each other in this situation,” he said. “And I don’t know why you all as educators keep supporting more of this garbage.”

Ward gave an example of a Common core method for solving a math problem that he disagreed with. “It’s just stupid,” he said.

Hutchins responded, “I would very wholeheartedly disagree with you and openly so, because…the curriculum itself has not changed. Strategies have changed. I think that’s what you’re talking about here. You’re talking about strategies that teachers are using. That’s the difference. The strategies that I’m hearing you talk about are designed to make children use multiple tools to solve problems.”

But Rodney Baker of Lincoln County said, “I’m very involved in my children’s homework, particularly the math. What I see happening – one of the reasons why I ran for the board – is we’re not teaching, in my opinion – correct me if I’m wrong – we’re not teaching to the upper 70 percent. Instead, we’re bringing the upper 70 percent [down] and teaching the lower 30 percent.”

That has been his experience with three daughters, Baker said. “I have had to literally unteach my children methods that are not efficient,” he said. “It takes them 10 minutes to do a math problem. I taught my daughter to do long division in two minutes, maybe three, and instead of an hour doing homework, she can do it in five minutes.”

“If you ran for the school board in West Virginia to change the way things are in West Virginia, you ran for the wrong office…. As a member of the board of education, you have no power to change what we do in the classroom – none.” – Chris Carder

To that, Carder said, “If you ran for the school board in West Virginia to change the way things are in West Virginia, you ran for the wrong office. I’ve been here a long time. West Virginia – with the exception of Hawaii – is the most regulated state in the union. As a member of the board of education, you have no power to change what we do in the classroom – none. Our schools are judged on how they do on the test at the end of the year. It’s a very sad situaAsstion, but that’s the truth.”

Giving students several ways to solve problems doesn’t necessarily take away their ability to solve problems quickly, she said, but it gives them more in-depth knowledge at how to do it. Instead of having students do a page of 50 problems the same way, they do a few problems in each of several ways, Carder said.

Ward complained that the schools say they want parents to be involved, but they make it so complicated that the parents can’t help their kids. Carder said each district should inform parents about the new standards.

“That’s why I’m on the school board,” Ward said.

“Every school in our county presented all of the Next Generation Standards to the parents,” Carder said. “It’s not new and different. It’s what we’ve been doing in the classroom all along. Teachers in the classroom have been doing the same things all along. They’re not changing their methods; they’re just using them more.”

Bonnie Henthorn of Tyler County said she agreed with both Carder and Ward. “It really cannot be parents against teachers, but there are teachers in the classroom who say the direct opposite of what you [Carder] say, and there are parents who say the direct opposite of what you [Ward] say,” she said. “The real truth is somewhere in the middle.”

Carder said, “The most difficult thing for schools is to get all parents there to get the kind of support you need.” She said the parents of children coming from extreme poverty are the hardest ones to get to come to meetings, because they hated school. “They hated school to begin with,” she said. “They still hate school. It’s always a battle. You have to find a way to ease them in.”

West Virginia is using a student growth model, Carder said. “It is a much, much better assessment, because every child should grow from the time they come into your classroom to the time they finish at the end of the school year,” she said. “After 180 days, there has to be or should be growth. If that whole group of children isn’t moving along and each child doesn’t grow, that teacher isn’t doing their job.”

Ward said, “I admire you all for what you do, and I admire our teachers at our county. I have the utmost respect for our teachers.” He said he tells his daughter to ask her teacher for extra help when she has trouble. He doesn’t demonize the teacher, because he wants his daughter to respect her, he said.

Carder said that, as a board member, he would need to understand Common Core, not to defend it, but to explain it. “It’s not going to go away in the state of West Virginia overnight,” she said.

But Ward said he still didn’t like the way state officials forced Common Core on the schools. “The people from the county elected us. Truly, without being on the school board or in the county system, you don’t know truly what happens in the school system,” he said. “Although you say we can’t do anything about it, I kind of beg to differ, because I think if enough people in the state and in the county joined together and they’re at Mrs. Manchin’s office and board meetings, I think it can change. I believe that you’re wrong in that scenario, and I’m fighting for you. I want it to be simpler to get back to basics, so we, as parents, can help you and assist you at your job to educate our children.”

However, Tammy Jo Samples of Upshur County said, “I don’t know that we can go back to basics. We’re like in a different world. We’re teaching kids for jobs that don’t exist yet.”

Carder said that, when she started teaching, every child took the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills. “Then No Child Left Behind came along, and the only people who made money were the testing companies, because every state had to develop their own test,” she said.

“This is the one thing that will save our school system…. We are looking at student growth for the first time ever.” – Mary Lu Hutchins

Hutchins said one good aspect of the coming changes will be the West Virginia Student Growth Reports that will allow students and their parents to compare the students’ growth from the previous year and set goals. “This is the one thing that will save our kids,” she said. “This is the one thing that will save our school system…. We are looking at student growth for the first time ever.”



By Jim Wallace

Many things are changing in education in West Virginia, and Bill Rosenberger believes school districts’ communication strategies should be among them. Rosenberger is a former reporter for the Huntington Herald-Dispatch who now is in charge of communications for the Wayne County Schools. He believes that improving communication strategies can change the culture of education in West Virginia.

During a session at the WVSBA’s Orientation ’14 conference, Rosenberger said Wayne County school officials realized they had to change their communications after voters strongly rejected a $33.1 million bond issue in 2012 that would have been matched with another $20 million from the School Building Authority. That’s one reason he was hired to turn things around.

One step the school district took that Rosenberger recommends for other districts is to assess the effectiveness of school websites. He suggested asking these questions:

  1. What do people find when they visit the district and school websites?
  2. Is each website up to date?
  3. Can visitors find the most basic information (such as address, phone number, principal’s name and email)?
  4. Does each URL work?

Rosenberger recommended these action steps for further communicating better with the public:

  • Hold board meetings at different schools.
  • Regularly recognize achievements by students and staff.
  • Launch social media or develop monthly newsletters.
  • Determine if you need professional assistance.

Also, he said, the school district should be its own news agency and be proactive about news. The district should even address the bad news, which would allow it to control the message and not just react to what others say about it. Rosenberger said school officials should be honest about the issues and build consistency.



As stated in a written communication forwarded to WVSBA members and county superintendents earlier in the week, the Association’s website is to be revamped in several ways, including the establishment of a “WVSBA On Board” segment.

These changes are to occur by September 1, 2014.

By utilizing this Website feature, county board members will be able to:

  1. Access training hours acquired. These will be updated immediately following each approved WVSBA training session or non-WVSBA training session(s) approved by the County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC). 
  2. Download existing WVSBA publications, including The Legislature. The portal will also include links to various publications from other entities as well as a monthly research feature, tips and guidelines, trends information, etc. 
  3. Change or report changes to preferred email addresses as well as update changes to physical mailing addresses.
  4. Receive reports, including minutes and financial reports, from various association executive board meetings. Members will also be able to access all training program agendas and evaluation of meetings.
  5. Make suggestions for training programs or for association works and focus.
  6. Participate in various surveys or studies as conducted by members, member boards or the WVSBA staff.
  7. Access each of the 55 county board websites. Links will be provided for other websites as well. 
  8. Secure the names and physical addresses of each county board member as published currently in WVSBA’s Directory.

Other changes will be announced soon.

Note: In terms of the existing Association Directory, the Directory will include information as provided by members with members having the option to include personal email listing on the Website portal. The Directory will be greatly streamlined, in fact.

The goal of this endeavor is to move the organization to a greater technology focus.

A WVSBA Executive Board committee headed by President Jim Crawford Sr. (Kanawha) is heading this effort along with several advisory members.

Members will provided a unique User Name and Password for ease in accessing the Website.

For more information, please contact me.


Editor’s Note – Jim Wallace is a former government reporter for theCharleston Daily Mail, former news director of West Virginia Public Radio and former news director of WWVA/WOVK radio in Wheeling. He now works for TSG Consulting, a public relations and governmental affairs company with offices in Charleston and Beckley. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and a master’s degree in journalism from West Virginia University. Wallace is the author of the 2012 book,A History of the West Virginia Capitol: The House of State.