Three to be named to Berkeley Board of Education

May 06, 2002|BY SARAH MULLIN

Three of the six candidates vying for a seat on the Berkeley County Board of Education will be elected in the May 14 primary.

Board members serve a term of four years and receive a salary of $160 per meeting.

The candidates are incumbents Todd Beckwith and Bill Sonnik; and newcomers Robin Danfelt, Pat Murphy, Annie Otto and Rick Pill.

n Todd Beckwith, 53, of 236 Evans Run Drive, Martinsburg, has been a banker at City National Bank for 23 years.

He has served two previous terms on the board.

Beckwith said he is proud of the success the board has had during his eight years serving on the board.

If re-elected, he hopes to deal with issues of teacher retention, attracting new teachers and dealing with the county's growth.

n Robin Danfelt, 44, of 12723 Back Creek Valley Road, Hedgesville, has worked in banking her entire career, and is currently employed at 167th Federal Credit Union in Martinsburg.


She said she would like to see a countywide dress code implemented.

Danfelt said other parents have told her when children transfer from schools they have to adjust to that school's policy, which creates a lot of confusion.

She also said she would be an opposing voice against year-round schooling. As a mother with a child who has a learning disability, she said it would be impossible for those children to retain what they learn after having weeks off from school.

n Pat Murphy, 54, of 1044 Trent Arden Court, Martinsburg, is a fifth-grade teacher at Wright Denny Intermediate School.

He served as a delegate in the state Legislature from 1983 to 1990 and served on the Berkeley County Commission from 1991 to 1996.

Murphy said he wants to stop social promotion, which allows a child who isn't making the necessary grades to graduate to the next grade.

He said he also wants to address the average expenditure per pupil given to Berkeley County by the state and work toward getting more money for the students.

n Annie Otto, 65, of 135 Ben Speck Road, Hedgesville, is retired after serving the Berkeley County School system for 26 years.

She served a four-year term on the state executive committee, was president of the Berkeley County School Service Personnel for 12 years and served as chairperson for the West Virginia School Service Personnel for five years.

Otto said she wants to address the issue of suspension and how she thinks it causes students to fall behind in their school work and contributes to the chance the student will later drop out of school.

She said her experience and knowledge of the Legislature would help the board find more funds to meet the needs of the county.

n Rick Pill, 50, of 911 Hoffman Road, Martinsburg, is a lawyer and owner of his own law firm, Pill & Pill.

He has served as vice president of the Berkeley County Development Authority but resigned so he could run for a seat on the school board.

Pill said he cares about the community, the state and the country and education is the key to improving the quality of life in all three.

He said he will work to improve the school system by dealing with issues regarding growth, hiring of professional teachers and keeping those teachers in the county.

He said his experience as a private business owner will help the board spend the taxpayer's money efficiently and effectively.

n Bill Sonnik, 56, of 331 Richard St., Martinsburg, has worked in communications for 33 years and is currently employed by Verizon.

He has served on the school board for eight years.

Sonnik said he wants to continue what he started and is proud of the success the board has had during his two-term stint on the board.

His key issues are growth, teacher retention and school safety.

Sonnik also said he wants to work on the problem of mobility because schools are seeing a 33 to 100 percent rate of students coming and leaving the schools.

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