By Jim Workman
For the Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The West Virginia Board of Education voted to return full control and authority to the McDowell County Board of Education during a meeting Wednesday morning at River View High School, effective July 1.
The state had control of the local school system for about 11 and a half years.
“There are many passionate people in McDowell County,” said state board member Gayle Manchin. “They care about their children, their families and their homes. A lot of people worked very hard.
“One of the lessons that we learned is that no one can do it alone. The children are the most important priority in front of us. The great news is that we have a community pulling together.
“The state board promises to be an ally. We see this as a partnership. When the children of McDowell County succeed, the state of West Virginia succeeds.”
The motion, made by Manchin, passed by unanimous vote.
“This is a very positive day for this county,” said state board member Lloyd Jackson. “We’re so proud of what is going on today. We see a rebirth happening in McDowell County.”
The Office of Education Performance Audits recommended the W.Va. Board of Education return local control of the county school system to McDowell pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding between the two boards effective July 1, 2013, subject to three conditions:
1. the current appointed superintendent remains in that position for four years;
2. training is provided to the McDowell County board in the following areas: Personnel, Finance, and Board Leadership; and
3. the McDowell board be mindful that they are under the watchful eye of the WVBOE as noted in W.Va. Code 18-2E-5 (q)(2) which indicates the state board may intervene immediately in the operation of the county school system, “…if the state board finds the following: That the conditions precedent to intervention exist as provided in this section and that the state board had previously intervened in the same school system and had concluded the intervention within the preceding five years.”