By WV MetroNews
RIPLEY, W.Va. — Dozens of people took part in a forum Tuesday at Ripley High School regarding possible education policy efforts for this year’s related special legislative session.
The event featured four group discussions on possible legislative approaches, similar to how the state Department of Education organized its forums held across the state in March and April.
Teachers, administrators and lawmakers took part in the event, which the Jackson County Board of Education organized. MetroNews-affiliate WMOV-AM interviewed attendees.
“We need to listen to everybody’s ideas. You can disagree, but you don’t need to be disagreeable,” Ravenswood High School principal Jimmy Frashier said. “I think you always want to look at both sides of something and there is a lot of times, just talking to our students, we hear things that we didn’t think of.”
Frashier said much of what he has heard has regarded making sure students are ready for employment. He added students are also looking to the future and are active in voicing their thoughts.
“The older a student gets, the more and more they are looking to that. Our teachers and counselors provide them with a lot of avenues to try to find what type of job and career they want to get into,” he said.
Lori Mahan, a second-grade teacher at Ripley Elementary School, said her students understand the dialogue around education.
“You don’t feed that when you say ’55 Strong,’ but you are proud that they are civic-minded enough to know what is going on,” she said.
Mahan pointed to societal problems that schools need to address through additional services.
“We’ve got grandparents and great grandparents raising children, and we do things differently,” she said.
Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, was among the participants in Tuesday’s forum. He said he feels optimistic lawmakers can pass provisions of the omnibus bill that died during the regular session.
“I’m going to all these forums and people are coming up to me saying ‘keep up the fight,'” he said. “Our students are worth it. We can do better, and we can help the traditional public school system, too, and we are.”
Carmichael added Gov. Jim Justice seems likely to cooperate with the Legislature, but he is not afraid to challenge the governor if needed.
“The Constitution of West Virginia enables gubernatorial override with a simple majority, and we’ve done it before. I can’t imagine the governor wants to maintain an education system and the status quo as it currently is with our testing results,” he said.
The special legislative session is expected to begin in late May.