Braxton Citizens' News, Opinion

Board response…

I hope all our readers had an enjoyable holiday weekend. Mine may have been too active. I love having friends and family visit, but I think I was more exhausted when it was time to return to work than I was after a very hectic week.

Upon returning to my desk, I found an email and a registered letter answering the freedom of information request I made to the Board of Education last week for names of the five finalists for the Superintendent’s job as well as additional information on the successful applicant.

I am glad that I received a timely response. We were able to contact Dr. Rhonda Combs and include additional information and a picture for inclusion in the front-page article detailing the Board’s selection of her as our next superintendent. I believe it made the story much more informative for our readers and hopefully eliminated some of the guess work and rumors that would probably have surfaced without the addition.

I am disappointed that the Board was not more open during the selection process. As previously stated, I also am dissatisfied with the fact that three newly elected board members apparently didn’t receive any more information than the newspapers did.

There was a letter from DeAnna Whipkey with the FOI response. While I take issues with some of the statements, they simply are not worth my time to elaborate on. However, the good news is the letter did contain the names of the five people interviewed by the Board for the school’s top job. They were in addition to Dr. Combs, Dr. Tony Minney, Dr. Ronnie Tarchichi, Dr. Andrea Lemon and Dr. Leatha Williams.

The new Board will soon be seated, and I hope they take an improved stance on the public’s right to know. I don’t think there has been any ill-will involved with this or other incidents when the Board of Education has dropped the ball in being responsive to those who elected them. It’s appears they are just too involved or mis-guided to be answerable to the public. This is certainly not the first time I have seen such actions from elected officials. Nor is it the first time it has been discussed in this space. However, it’s too important not to reinforce it again. As the WV Freedom Of Information Act plainly states, our elected officials are not elected to decide what is good for us to know. They must work on our behalf in a transparent fashion. I hope the Board of Education gets on board!

I read an article in today’s Charleston Gazette which stated that 3010 public school vouchers had been approved and 469 additional ones were pending. That’s $4,300 for all 3010 of them… just under $13 million that will be taken from our public educational system. How is our educational system going to survive? Cuts are coming and our county Board of Education has to be upfront with the public. They must regain the public’s confidence. With past history, that will take some effort on the Board’s part. Lets keep our fingers crossed.