January 15, 2016 — Volume 36 Issue 1



By Greg Prudich

Change.  It is as certain as the sun rising.  It is an integral part of life and it is something we must face every day.  Change can be good.  Frequent change, however, can bring chaos.  Unfortunately, in public education, change has become a far too regular event.  We face changes in laws and policies before we even have the opportunity to determine if the most recent change can or will succeed.  It is a never- ending problem we face in West Virginia.  We will be seeing more of it in our immediate future. 

“Unfortunately, in public education, change has become a far too regular event.  We face changes in laws and policies before we even have the opportunity to determine if the most recent change can or will succeed.  It is a never ending problem we face in West Virginia.  We will be seeing more of it in our immediate future…” – Greg Prudich, West Virginia School Board Association President

For some odd reason, far too many in public office think constant change will bring about improved results. Actually, what it brings is increased costs, confusion and implementation problems.  What frequent change brings is children who may go through their public education with constantly shifting standards, goals and institutional confusion.  It is little wonder that we struggle at times with all the moving targets and changing statutes and policies. 

In the face of all this change, what do we do as county board members? 

  • First, we lead.  It is up to us to make our school systems places of calm and order, as much as is possible in the face of all these changes.  We do so with local policy.  We strive to keep our policies stable, goal directed and focused on student achievement and success. 
  • We support our educators and let them know we will be patient in the face of change and the inevitable successes and failures that they will face when implementing change at the school level. 
  • We let our parents and the public know what is happening so that they may be participants in the change and not simply observers.    
  • We advocate with our legislators, the governor and the state Board of Education. We can and we must act as the voice of our local communities when it comes to education policy in our state. We see and understand better than any of those other public officials what is happening at the local level, what works, what doesn’t, what is a hindrance and what is beneficial.  We need to make our voice heard, loud and strong, that we must be at the table, and must participate in policymaking at the state level. 

It is particularly important that we be engaged at the state policy level at this time of great change and upheaval in public education.  What those in Charleston do now will impact our children for the next generation, so we must strive to inform those making the changes.  We must participate far beyond anything we’ve ever done.  We must be a voice for our children.  For if not us, then who will be that voice?  And if not now, then we will be too late.

I urge you to be in regular communication with your legislators, the governor’s office, the state Board of Education and state Department of Education. Let them know we are at “Ground Zero” – the local level – and we must be heard.  If we don’t, then we are abdicating our responsibility to form and direct public education policy.

Prudich is a partner in the Princeton law firm of Sanders Austin Flanigan & Prudich. He has served as a member of the Mercer County Board of Education since 1998, serving nine years as president of the Mercer County Board.

By Jim Wallace

Members of the County Board Training Standards Review Committee (TSRC) are trying to figure out how to ensure that school board members around West Virginia get better training to handle their positions. They didn’t figure it out at their meeting this month, but they think they’re making progress they can build on next time.

Beverly Kingery, the state school board member who now is chairwoman of the TSRC, said she and the executive committee of the West Virginia School Board Association recently met and agreed on the roles and functions for board member training. One thing they agreed on is that the level of quality of the training must be ensured, especially when boards want to pursue their own training on the local level, she said.

“One [board] this past year wanted two hours of credit for attending the Christmas program at a high school. That’s not necessarily governance or leadership training.” — Beverly Kingery

“One [board] this past year wanted two hours of credit for attending the Christmas program at a high school,” Kingery said. “That’s not necessarily governance or leadership training.”

The TSRC should provide boards with some parameters from which they can choose, she said. “Another one wanted to attend a national training that really had nothing to do with governance and leadership of school boards, and so we had to say no,” Kingery said.

Another function of the TSRC’s work is to assist local boards to make decisions that will help them avoid state takeovers. “We should be able to alleviate, if not all, much of state board takeovers,” Kingery said. “Sometimes county boards don’t know why they have been taken over. They don’t understand. They don’t know what got them in that position to be taken over.”

The bottom line for the training is to help school boards improve student achievement, she said. The TSRC also needs to revise procedures and operations to make them clearer, she said, noting that several things in the operations manual were written many years ago.

Sam Sentelle, a member of the Putnam County school board, said, “I’ve seen a lot of school board members elected on their own agendas because a certain group wanted a certain action taken.” He said it then takes those board members about six months to realize that they must follow laws and policies. Many people elected to boards don’t understand what governance is, he said, so the TSRC committee could define what it is.

Sentelle is WVSBA president-elect.

Kingery said another problem is that it’s not always clear who is responsible for helping takeover counties – the Office of Education Performance Audits, the Education Department or the WVSBA. She suggested the committee could develop recommendations to take to the state board.

“At least 30 counties in this state right now are strapped for funds,” Kingery said, indicating that financial conditions could make them more in danger of state takeovers. Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said the situation could get worse. “If this legislature passes the reduction to the coal severance tax, it’s going to be devastating to some of our southern counties,” he said.

Kingery said that governance, leadership and emerging issues should be the focal points, so every training session for school board members must address one of them.

Committee is unsure how much local training should be allowed.

A big issue the TSRC discussed was how many of the seven hours of training required annually for school board members should be permitted to be done at the local level. Amelia Courts, Ed.D., president of the Education Alliance, said board members in the past were required to attend state conferences to get their seven hours of annual training unless they applied for exemptions. She said that should be loosened but not too much. She suggested making it better known among school boards that they can ask for exemptions and encourage them to consider them.

Barbara Parsons, Ed.D., president of the Monongalia County school board, said she had serious concerns about how to measure things. Board members already sit through much training from local staffs so they can understand issues thoroughly, so she was afraid that if the amount of local training is measured, people won’t want to go to sessions they don’t get paid for.

“You got to be careful what you ask for because there are unintended consequences. I’ve seen this happen before. You think you’re going to really help everybody be capturing something, but when you can’t capture anymore, they don’t want it.” — Barbara Parsons

“You got to be careful what you ask for because there are unintended consequences,” Parsons said. “I’ve seen this happen before. You think you’re going to really help everybody be capturing something, but when you can’t capture anymore, they don’t want it.”

Local training should be focused well, she said. Parsons also suggested that many cash-strapped districts will have trouble paying members to go anywhere for training in the future, so more should be done with electronic delivery of training and teleconferencing.

The committee members were guided in their discussion by results of a survey of county board members about training issues. The comments were reviewed and summarized by staffs of the WVSBA and the state school board. Among the findings were that 99 of 110 respondents said they would use a leadership training document, and 96 of 109 respondents said they would use the service of a leadership training team.

At the end of the meeting, Kingery said TSRC members should consider the responses to the survey and about everything discussed at the meeting and then work on solidifying positions for the committee to consider at its next meeting. She appointed a five-member subcommittee to work on that. She said the intent is to have something ready to take to school board members by the beginning of the next school year.

Former state Board of Education member and President Gayle C. Manchin chaired the TSRC from 2006-2015.

WVSBA executive director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D., serves as TSRC secretary.

The broad-based committee was first established in 1989 and its duties and roles stipulated through legislation adopted in 2009.

West Virginia is considered to be the only state operating with an oversight committee.

The following is a listing of TSRC members:

West Virginia Board of Education Appointees

  • Beverly Kingery, Member – West Virginia Board of Education / TSRC Chair
  • Tina H.  Combs, Secretary – West Virginia Board of Education
  • Gayle C.  Manchin, Immediate Past President – West Virginia Board of Education
  • James Wilson, Member – West Virginia Board of Education / Alternate

State Superintendent of Schools Designee

  • Cindy Daniel, Ed.D., Deputy State Superintendent of Schools

County Boards of Education Appointees

  • Parsons
  • Robin C. Rector, President – Kanawha County Board of Education / FY15/FY16 Region 3 Co-Director / WVSBA
  • Sentelle
  • Mary Jo Thomas, Member – Marion County Board of Education

County Boards of Education Appointees - Alternates

  • Jim Crawford, Member - Kanawha County Board of Education / FY16 Immediate Past President / WVSBA
  • Deborah Clark, Member – Summers County Board of Education – Second Alternate
  • Bob M. “Digger” O’Dell, Member – Nicholas County Board of Education – Third Alternate

Other Appointees:

  • Gail Adams, 2015 Teacher of the Year (Ohio County)
  • Dixie Billheimer, Ph.D., Chief Executive Director – West Virginia Center for Professional Development
  • Rob Bobbera, Superintendent / Mingo County Schools, Williamson, W. Va.
  • Bob Brown, Office of the President – Project Manager / Reconnecting McDowell – American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
  • Christine Campbell, President – AFT West Virginia
  • Eddie Campbell, Superintendent / Tucker County Schools, Parsons, W. Va.
  • Becky Ceperley, Past President and CEO – The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation
  • Amelia Davis Courts, Ed.D., President/CEO – The Education Alliance
  • Kathy D’Antoni, Ed.D. -  Chief Career & Technical Education Officer- West Virginia Department of Education
  • Adam Green, Ph.D., Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs as representative of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission  
  • Patti Hamilton, Executive Director – West Virginia Association of Counties
  • Michael Kelley, Principal – Herbert Hoover High School
  • Dale Lee, President – West Virginia Education Association
  • The Rev. Randolf Richardson, minister Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church
  • Susan O’Brien, Director – Office of Education Performance Audits
  • Joseph R. Oliverio, Executive Director – Regional Education Service Agency 5
  • The Honorable Paul Espinosa, R-Jefferson, House of Delegates Committee on Education
  • The Honorable David G. Perry, D-Fayette, Minority Chair, W. Va. House of Delegates
  • The Honorable Roman Prezioso, D-Marion, Member W. Va. Senate
  • Kathy Parker, president of the Braxton County Board of Education and president-elect of the West Virginia PTA  Note:  Mrs. Parker will serve in terms of the PTA position
  • A.J. Rogers, Executive Director – West Virginia Association of School Administrators
  • The Honorable Sen. Dave Sypolt, R-Preston, Senate Education Chair
  • Newton Thomas, ITT Carbon Resources (Ret.)
  • Joe White, Executive Director – West Virginia School Service Personnel Association
  • O’Cull 

The next TSRC meeting will be held in April.



The West Virginia School Board Association Winter Conference, slated for February 19 and 20 in Charleston (Town Center Marriott Hotel, will focus on how various notions of leadership, including vision, strategic leadership, leadership for results as measured by goals/objectives and leadership design for incorporating change.

Confirmed presenters for this session include West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, Ph.D., MajorGeneral James A. Hoyer, The Adjutant General, and State Superintendent of Schools Michael J. Martirano, Ed.D.

Building on the leadership program segments, other conference training sessions deal with developing the “infrastructure” or county frameworks to implement county board-developed goals, including ways to measure effectiveness and to ensure accountability.

County board members also will receive the latest information about how the recent federal legislation, The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), known as Every Student Succeeds Act, will impact county boards, especially its policy implications.

Representatives of The National School Boards Association (NSBA) will make the presentation.

Other conference offerings include a variety of workshops and a review of the work of the County Board Member Training Standards Review Committee’s efforts in regard to restructuring county board member training in West Virginia.

A full program/schedule is being prepared by the WVSBA staff for distribution to association members.

President Barak Obama signed the legislation December 10, 2015.

Based on various news accounts and education briefings, the ESEA legislation is designed to provide greater local boards of education “flexibility.”

The measure essentially supersedes provisions of the George W. Bush administration’s 2001 No Child Left behind Act



According to the Secretary of State’s Office, 64 persons have filed for election or reelection to non-partisan county boards of education positions in West Virginia as of today. (The Lewis County filings list the candidates by partisan political party affiliation.)

Based on West Virginia School Board Association records, 34 of those filing for the 112 county board seats to be filled in the 2016 Primary Election are incumbents.

According to the association, at least 112 seats are to be filled in the Primary Election and possibly more if county board members, at least as two members have, seek other political offices.

WVSBA records also show that at least three county boards – Lewis, Nicholas and Webster – have recently filled vacant county board positions, with the Lewis and Nicholas positions having become vacant due to county board members who are seeking other partisan political offices.

The same applies in Logan County, although that vacancy has not been filled.  According to Logan County board officials, the vacancy may be filled January 19.

The Wetzel position, filled earlier in the month, was a result of a county board member’s resignation from that county board late last year.

In terms of the Nicholas County board position, long-time educator and West Virginia Association of School Administrators Executive Director A.J. Rogers was tapped for the vacancy created by Dr. Lloyd Adkins, DDS’s, resignation. Adkins is seeking a county office.

According to WVSBA executive director Howard M. O’Cull, Ed.D., two other county board members have served as WVASA executive directors - Harry A. Stansbury, Jr., and Robert F. “Fred” Radabaugh. Both Stansbury and Radabaugh served as members of the Kanawha County Board of Education with Stansbury also having served as WVSBA president in FY70. Stansbury, who died several years ago, was a chemist at Union Carbide. Radabaugh served as a former finance official for Kanawha County Schools.

According to a Nicholas County Schools release, Rogers has served as an educator as well as a Regional Education Service Agency (RESA) Executive Director.

The candidate filing period runs through January 31. 



The West Virginia School Board Association is assisting the Grant County Board of Education in its County Superintendent Search. Information regarding the search can be found on the association’s website, including a Notice of Position Vacancy and Application Form. These documents are to be available Monday, January 18.

Grant County Superintendent DeEdra Lundeen Bolton, Ed.D., is retiring from the position at the end of the fiscal year.

For more information visit www.wvsba.org. Direct Link



Marion County Board of Education member Janet L. Coburn Crescenzi died Wednesday, December 30, 2015.

Services for Mrs. Crescenzi were held Monday, January 4 in Fairmont. 

She was preceded in death by her husband, Nathan “Nate” Crescenzi, a long-time Marion County educator and school administrator.

During her 39 years as an educator, Mrs. Crescenzi began her career teaching at Central School and then worked for the Marion County Board of Education as director of the Neighborhood Youth Corps program.

She later served as principal for Jayenne Elementary School and at East Dale Elementary School. East Dale became a National School of Excellence and for many years a West Virginia Blue Ribbon School under her leadership. The Eisenhower Award was presented to the school as a means of funding the science lab addition at East Dale.

The MARJIS Award (Mid-Atlantic Regional Japanese School Program) was presented to fund travels to Japan for educational studies.

She was invited to Oxford University to serve as a panel member of Education Roundtable. Other awards included National Principal of the Year and West Virginia State Principal of the Year.

A graduate of Rivesville High School, she obtained higher learning degrees from Fairmont State University and West Virginia University.

Survivors include two daughters, a son and their spouses, five grandchildren and their spouses and two greatgrandchildren.

Memorial donations can be made to the West Virginia Adventures Network/ Destination Imagination, c/o Pam Kabulski, 106, Amos St., Fairmont, WV 26554.

Obituary: Courtesy Ford Funeral Homes, Fairmont.


County Boards of Education Member —
Patsy Brancazio (Hancock)
(August 23, 1942 - April 27, 2015)

West Virginia School Board Association Executive Officer - 
Arnold W. Harless (Wyoming)
September 13, 1928 – July 12, 2015
WVSBA President – FY97