Preston County school system regains local control

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By Jeff Jenkins 
WV MetroNews

The director of the state Office of Education Performance Audits says leadership is the difference in Preston County and a big reason why the school system should be returned to local control.

Director Gus Penix made the recommendation to members of the state Board of Education Wednesday and the board voted unanimously to allow the Preston County Board of Education to begin running its system again.

The state board seized control of Preston County in 2009 after a number of problems were discovered in finances, facilities and general leadership. Penix told MetroNews Wednesday that’s all changed now.

“The (Preston County) board has matured greatly as far as leadership in the county. They’ve addressed needs in all of their facilities. Curriculum has improved and they are addressing personnel matters,” Penix said.

The audit team took another look at Preston County earlier this year. Penix said the county wasn’t ready for local control to be returned as recently as 2012 but it is now. Penix said the leadership of the county board of education members is the difference.

“Actually rolling up their sleeves and getting involved in resolving those issues and correcting the problem,” he said.

Preston County School Superintendent Rick Hicks told the state Board of Education Wednesday the school system had a $1.5 million debt just last year but has whittled it down to below $60,000.