GRAFTON—Last week, an education discussion was held in Taylor County to hear the public’s input on education ahead of the special legislature session to be held next month.
The meeting was held in the Grafton City Council Chambers Tuesday evening and was hosted by Amy Summers R - Taylor, Majority Leader.
In attendance were Delegate Terry Waxman R - Harrison, Delegate Ben Queen R – Harrison, along with Senators Randy Smith R – Tucker and Dave Sypolt R - Preston.
The group introduced themselves and told the attendees that they look forward to hearing their input and ideas to make education better.
In addition, Taylor County Superintendent Christy Miller and all five Taylor County Board of Education members attended, as well as approximately 15 other members of the community.
During the meeting everyone had the opportunity to speak and express their concerns for the upcoming special session.
“We noted their ideas for the special session, along with the others we have received,” Summers stated. “I am also having a meeting with the BOE at a later date. I have been disappointed that people told me they were afraid to speak openly.”
West Virginia Education Department Association-Taylor President Renee Mahon was the first to speak and shared some of her concerns with the previous bill.
“We need smaller class sizes to help students one-on-one,” she voiced, “When you have 30 plus kids in a classroom, it is hard to meet the needs of the students.”
She shared that they need more counselors and mental health professionals, and they are seeing a lot of metal health issues.
“What we do not need is Charter Schools. We need to put more money into our public schools,” Mahon said. “We do not want open enrollment. In a county like Taylor County, we will go downhill fast.”
Miller echoed the same message and told the attendees that she believes that Taylor County does not need Charter Schools or open enrollment.
She revealed that for every student that leaves the county, they lose $11,000, and that can be very detrimental to the county.
“Innovation Zones is the way to help put money into the schools,” Miller stated. “We know what we need to do to improve our schools and help our students.”
The group discussed Charter Schools, open enrollment, Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), paycheck protection and many other issues in education.
Another topic discussed was the need for school counselors and social workers in the schools to help with the mental health of students.
Miller told the group that they need more counselors to help with the growing mental health needs in the county.
“Our teachers just want to go to school and teach,” she said. “They were not trained to help with mental health issues.”
Taylor County Board of Education member Patrick Tucker stated that the education of Taylor County students is their number one goal.
“Being a lifelong resident of Taylor County, we must continue to look at ways that benefit our students along with our schools,” he explained. “It is important to keep in mind what works for other counties in the state, may not work for us.”
Tucker shared that they are fortunate to work with the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department to build School Based Health Centers.
“This is definitely a step in the right direction to have medical and health professionals in our schools,” he expressed. “The challenge that we are faced with is ways of funding, as we must continue to grow these types of services to accommodate our students needs, along with keeping our teachers focused on education.”
He stated that the board, superintendent, directors, principals and staff are engaged in looking at ways for improvement that will provide success to the students in Taylor County.
After further discussion from attendees, the delegates and senators thanked everyone for attending and assured them that they will take their concerns into consideration during the special session to be held in May.