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Jefferson County school candidates tackle the issues

May 04, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Less than a week remains before the May 9 nonpartisan election for four seats on the Jefferson County Board of Education - a race that has attracted 11 candidates.

No more than two people may serve from one magisterial district.

Board members are paid $160 per meeting and with the exception of one seat that is up for grabs this year, the term for the job is four years.

Jody Ebbitt, from the Shepherdstown district, is currently filling an unexpired term of former board member Jud Romine, but Ebbitt decided not to run for a two-year unexpired term of the position.

Each of the candidates were asked to answer the following questions in 25 words or less:

1. Are you content with the way the Jefferson County school impact fee system is administered or would you support changes?

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2. How can Jefferson County increase teacher salaries?

3. What skills or qualifications do you have that would make you an effective board member?

The candidates' responses follow. (i) denotes incumbent.

Sandy Collier, 47, Shepherdstown district.

1. Support full impact fees with no waivers or exemptions. It is absolutely necessary for all growth to financially support school system capital projects and improvements.

2. Must educate the state about growth issues to receive a larger portion of our taxes from Charleston so we can offer competitive teacher salaries.

3. Knows the issues by attending board meetings and volunteering in schools. Has the business experience and needed passion to work hard for employees and students.

J.J. Cook, 85, Harpers Ferry district.

1. Fee is rather steep. Those who enacted and administer it probably have the U.S. Congress for a model.

2. In the words of Winston Churchill at the beginning of World War II: "All I have to offer you is blood, sweat and tears."

3. Two degrees from Shepherd College in 1949, in the day when a degree meant something. Have spent 85 years attending the "school of hard knocks."

Pete Dougherty, 53, Charles Town district.

1. The fees collected are not being used to build new schools but used to cover unnecessary cost overruns. Additional options including proffers need review.

2. Implementing locality pay, increasing our share of local taxes already collected and paid to the state and a fiscally responsible budget are all needed.

3. My very successful judicial, legislative and executive work plus my 18 years of past experience on this board of education set me apart from others.

Timothy Hayden, 46, Charles Town district.

1. Hayden is content with the school impact fee system and thinks it is a reasonable way to deal with the impacts of the growing population.

2. It's hard to compete with neighboring counties, but progress can be made by working with the state on locality pay or cost of living increases.

3. A business background since 1977, an objective, "common sense" approach to management and degrees including a bachelor of science in history and political science.

Cheryl Huff (i), 50, Charles Town district.

1. That is the responsibility of the county commission. I wish that all the municipalities would work with them for the children of Jefferson County.

2. We have to work with the state, change state-aid formula, keep more of our taxes in the county and add benefits like tuition reimbursement.

3. Mother, bachelor of arts in education, integrity, board member knowledge, organized multi-tasker, good listener, volunteer, leadership training and skills, honest and walk the talk.

Ed "Pootie" Johnson, 76, Charles Town district.

1. Yes. However, I would support changes if there was a delay in the BOE requesting funds from the impact fee office.

2. Panhandle legislators should work with state legislators for locality pay to insure salaries are competitive with adjoining jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia.

3. My experience in accounting and budgeting would enable me in advising the BOE and citizens on the funds received and best utilized within the budget.

Gary Kable, 65, Kabletown district.

1. I am very sorry to hear that the impact fee fund is being raided to fund the new school finance shortfall and the 06-07 budget.

2. We probably can't until we get the budget under control. In November, we'll have to renew the current excess levy to maintain present levels.

3. Community knowledge and understanding, real business experience, political understanding, ability to listen and communicate with people, budget making and budget oversight experience.

Mariland Dunn Lee, 56, Middleway district.

1. With the current financial situation, I wouldn't support changing the impact fee system and feel the county commission should handle any legal situations.

2. The citizens of the Eastern Panhandle need to support and work cooperatively with our legislators as they continue to battle this problem in Charleston.

3. As a former classroom teacher, my perspective allows me to know what is effective leadership, effective teaching, strong curriculum and strong community support.

Delores Milstead (i), 62, Middleway district.

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