Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

UP: To Wood County Board of Education President Rick Olcott’s move to seek guidance from the state Ethics Commission regarding whether members of the board who receive dental benefits through the school district may still vote on the matter when insurance comes up for review. There are three members of the board who receive dental benefits: Olcott, Rick Tennant and Ron Tice. It was important to take such a step to ensure transparency and fairness on the part of the board.

UP: To the scope of the lists given by state Division of Highways districts to Gov. Jim Justice’s office. Despite the mixup in properly presenting the lists from Wetzel and Tyler counties, it appears as though the publicly available lists are enormous — and a testament to the fact that local engineers and managers are all too aware of ALL that needs to be done for our roads. It has not been a matter of lack of awareness, it has been a lack of funding and placing of priorities in Charleston.

DOWN: To a report showing West Virginia’s student population continues to decline. The student headcount in our public school system is down to approximately 273,000 — a 3 percent decrease from 2009; yet per pupil spending increased to $12,282 in fiscal year 2017 — a 17 percent increase from 2009. Measures of student success certainly have not increased accordingly. There is a lot to discuss in forums over the next few months, but it cannot be denied that there are fewer students in our public school system and more money is being spent. A clear understanding of what that means, where there is a disconnect and what might be the best way to spend that money to truly improve education for our kids is essential.