There are currently six people running for the Board of Education in Jefferson County. Each candidate was asked a series of three questions pertaining to their candidacy which included their reason for running for the office, their main goals for the school system and what each feels they bring to the table.
Gary Kable is a sitting member on the Jefferson County Board of Education and is already involved in several projects. He wishes to continue working on these projects to benefit the children of the county. Some of the projects mentioned were acquiring a bus garage of adequate size and completion of a few construction projects at Harpers Ferry Middle School.
Getting the aforementioned projects completed is high on Kable's priority list. He also is concerned about fiscal responsibility in the school system and wants to continue monitoring the budget to make sure more sound financial decisions are made. He wants to make sure the school improves the financial system in general, but also wants to critique the budget more and continue to work with finances.
Kable has a lot of experiencing with local government in the county, being a former county commissioner and county commission president, and also has experience in the state school board association. Kable also noted that he has operated his own business for 30 years and has worked for a Fortune 500 company, something few can say.
Laurie Ogden is a mother of four children who are currently enrolled in the Jefferson County school system. She is running in order to help improve the quality of learning in the county. Ogden also is running because she feels that the county schools need better fiscal responsibility, more transparency and better communication in the school community.
Ogden hopes to restore security in the jobs and the system. She doesn't feel that there is enough job security citing things such as the recent RIFs (Reduction in Force). Ogden also mentioned that morale needs to be addressed, and hopes to do this along with tackling social issues like bullying, teen pregnancy and drug use.
Ogden is the only candidate running with children at every level of education in the system, which she believes will give the Board of Education a member who has firsthand knowledge of how students and families are impacted at each level. Ogden has also experienced many different issues (special education, general education, athletics, band, etc.) and believes she also has the firsthand knowledge on these to make well-informed decisions.
Lori Stilley is running for the Board of Education because she is concerned with the fiscal policies of the past. Specifically, she is deeply concerned with the $5.5 million budget shortfall that occurred this year and how it was handled. She also was not pleased with the way the teacher and service worker terminations were handled in the prior year and wants to be on the board to change things such as these.
Stilley wants to restore financial responsibility to the school system and keep teachers and service personnel in the schools. She also wants to return the citizen's advisory committees to the Board that used to exist and were made up of parents and citizen volunteers from the county.
She hopes to look at cost cutting ideas and to reduce wasteful spending. Stilley also wants to work to bring technology upgrades to the school system.
Stilley has cited her business, educational and prior Board experience that makes her qualified and an ideal board member. She has a doctorate in education and has taught at high school, college and graduate levels for 15 years. She has managed her parent's business for 22 years and focused on long-range financial planning, something she sees as essential for a a fiscally responsible educational system. Her prior board work included working to secure a $6 million Economic Development Grant to build Washington High School, among several other projects.
Tom DeLauney watched the board meetings himself and decided to run for the Board of Education when he was not pleased with the way things were conducted. He believes that many things get "rubber-stamped" and pushed through with no questions asked. He feels like there needs to be more open debate and questioning for initiatives. He feels there needs to be people on the board that speak up and ask questions and he plans to do just that.
DeLauney's goals are to use the job for what it can do. He wants to help bring attention to the blue-collar workers in the school system who often get overlooked. He also plans to work with other board members to hire the most qualified superintendents for the county. DeLauney wants to help prevent cutting work days from employee schedules.
DeLauney has worked in heating and air conditioning for several years and represents a blue-collar voice that he feels is needed on the board. He used to work in the Jefferson County school system with heating and air conditioning and has seen a different side of the education system outside of the classroom. DeLauney believes that he brings a new perspective and would help advocate for other service workers in the school district.
Jim Jenkins is running for the Board of Education so he can help provide the best education possible for his son and other students across the county. He felt troubled by the recent force/pay cuts and the manner in which they were announced, which inspired him to take action and announce his candidacy.
"County educators, service personnel, students and parents deserve better than this," he said.
Jenkins' has several goals he hopes to accomplish as a board member. He is concerned with the financial/managerial pay cuts and wants to help prevent these from happening. He also plans to work with legislators and WVEA to have a cost of living allowance for Jefferson County School employees. Jenkins also mentioned wanting to place the focus more on the students and provide more opportunities for them by forging partnerships with places like Harpers Ferry National Park and Shepherd University.
Jenkins has worked as an educator for 37 years, 19 of which were in Jefferson County. Outside of Jefferson County, he has worked as adjunct faculty at Shepherd University, teacher/Naturalist at the Smithsonian Naturalist Center and was a Fulbright teacher in Scotland. Jenkins has also received several awards for his service, including Jefferson County Teacher of the Year in 1991. Jenkins believes that these various positions have exposed him to a variety of different educational situations that adequately prepare him for the position of board member.
Mark Osbourn is running for the Board of Education because he places a high value on education. He feels that the education system in Jefferson County is good, but could be improved. He has extensive experience in the school system, with 34 years in education, and wants to make a difference.
Osbourn has several goals relating to the Jefferson County school system. Some include restoring the trust of the community and employees in the Jefferson County School system, managing the budget to plan for the future, supporting effective human resources and benefit policies that attract and retain people and providing students with a safe and secure environment in which to learn and grow.
With his experience in the school system, Osbourn knows it well. He believes that knowing how decisions are made at the county level and how they affect the teachers and students at the building level are important. Osbourn believes that he provided strong leadership in the school environment and wants to translate this to the Board of Education.
Voting for the two open seats will take place during the May 8 primary election.