By David Beard, The Dominion Post
MORGANTOWN, W.VA. — After extended debate, the West Virginia House of Delegates’ Education Committee approved on Thursday a resolution to put to a constitutional amendment before the voters to make county board of education races partisan.
HJR 106, if passed by both houses of the Legislature and approved by the voters in November, would remove one sentence from the state Constitution that requires BOE races to be nonpartisan.
There was confusion, discussed at length, about a question raised by Delegate Cody Thompson, D-Randolph. He wanted to know if the measure would require two BOE elections: one in May during the party primaries and one in November to choose the ultimate winners.
There was much back and forth, but Howard O’Cull, executive director of the School Board Association, settled it by saying the resolution would simply put the option before the voters. It would then come back to the voters to work out the details.
Under current law, he and others explained, it would be a sort of “jungle primary” where the top vote-getters won in the May election – when BOE candidates are chosen – regardless of party. However, the Legislature might decide to make it a two-step process as with other partisan elections.
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, told the delegates, “Education should not be politicized.” That’s the reason BOE elections are not partisan. Boards are there for the betterment of the kids. …