State school board president says board should take advantage of constitutional power

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State school board president says board should take advantage of constitutional power
By Jeff Jenkins, WV MetroNews

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia Board of Education President Tom Campbell says he wants the state board to “seize” the authority given to it by the state Constitution.

With the swearing-in of two new board members last week, once again giving the board full membership, Campbell read a statement on what he hopes the new look board will do.

For too long the state board has been more of a rubberstamp, Campbell said.

“I’ve seen a keen commitment in the past to stay the course. In fact, that was a phrase often repeated by our former leadership. Instead I’d hope we don’t always stay the course…but I hope at times we will rethink and reframe our discussion,” Campbell said.

The state Constitution does give the state Board of Education some extraordinary powers and some see it as almost a fourth branch of government. Campbell said that power gives the state board the authority to be aggressive in several areas.

“I would hope we would take seriously our ability to reframe the discussion in many areas including school finance, testing, teacher independence and consolidation,” he said.

The nine-member board has undergone a major change since Gov. Jim Justice took office. Justice has filled six of the board seats with new members and there’s a new state School Superintendent in Dr. Steve Paine.

In his statement last week, Campbell made it clear he expects the board to be aggressive.

“We face difficult decisions in the days and weeks and months ahead but if we consent, instead of being inferior or a rubberstamp to things the ways they’ve always been done, but find new ways, we have an excellent opportunity to help our children, our teachers and our economy be second to none,” he said.