Wood BOE candidates share views

PARKERSBURG – Making sure students are challenged, being properly instructed and getting what they need through their education to be successful in life is the goal of many of the candidates running for the Wood County Board of Education.

Six of the 10 candidates running for the three available seats on the nonpartisan Wood County Board of Education participated Thursday evening in a forum moderated by the League of Women Voters of Wood County at the Judge Black Annex.

Those participating were incumbents Lawrence Hasbargen (District C), Jim Fox (District A) and Tad Wilson (District B) as well as candidates Jimmy Asbury (District B), Peggy Smith (District C) and Ron Tice (District A).

Audience members were encouraged to submit written question that each candidate took time to answer.

Candidates were asked about their stances on whether the district should keep AP courses, how would they vote in regard to allowing the district to provide free breakfast, their opinion on the recent concerns at Parkersburg South High School over a religious quote being the motto of the wrestling team and painted on school grounds, what their priorities would be as a board of education member, whether Wood County should go to year-around school, and parents rights in regard to standardized tests.

Candidates said students need to be challenged at all levels.

Local students will be the ones employers will be looking at in regard to jobs that could come as a result of the proposed ethane cracker plant being planned for Wood County, candidates said.

“You need to provide what meets those needs,” Hasbargen said.

Many of the candidates did not have a specific problem with the South wrestling team having a Biblical quote on T-shirts that they wear around school as individuals who are part of a team. In keeping the separation of church and state, many did think the quote should not specifically be painted on school property.

“Taxpayers did not buy the shirts,” Fox said. “Parents and students bought them.”

Fox said there is a lot of profanity printed on T-shirts he sees around the area and thinks it is good for kids to show a little religious faith.

All of the candidates present were against trying to implement year-around school in Wood County.

Many said the summer time allows students to pursue other interests, have valuable family time and is a chance to renew their energies.

“The students need that family time,” Wilson said. “They need the opportunity to be away.”

Asbury said it would be hard on the district to maintain schools all year with added expenses of temperature control and other related costs.

For many students, getting good meals is essential to being able to do the work expected of them. If people can qualify for free meals, the district should be able to provide them, but at the same time they should not be expected to provide them for everyone, regardless of their financial means, candidates said.

Smith, who worked for years as a school bus driver, said she saw many students who did not have access to good nutrition.

“Some do not have enough to eat,” she said.

Tice said, as an industrial arts teacher, he would not want students operating equipment when their focus is affected and having a good meal to start the day helps maintain focus.

“A child can’t function well without it,” he said.