West Virginia Legislative Session WV Elections 2024

#159-Interview with Donna Joy-Candidate for Board of Education-Jefferson County WV

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Jefferson County Public Schools Levy Allocation Concerns
Richard and Donna discussed the excess levy in Jefferson County public schools, with concerns raised about the transparency of its allocation, specifically whether it was being used for teacher salaries as advertised. Donna confirmed that the levy did go towards teacher salaries but Richard interjected that only about two percent goes for teacher salaries.  Donna also highlighted critical challenges facing the school system, such as a shortage of teachers and service personnel, a lack of emphasis on student achievement and marketable skills, and issues with discipline policy.
State Education Policy and Concerns
Donna and Richard discussed a perceived shift in the county’s discipline policy, which they believed negatively impacted teachers and students. Donna mentioned that there may be a request for a new excess levy for schools before the voters this November, which she will verify.  Richard noted a disconnect between spending and performance, with schools spending more but not necessarily seeing improved results. They discussed the issue of students being disciplined and returned to class by administrators without consequences. Donna shared her personal experiences and concerns about the current education policies and practices.
Addressing Education System Issues and Solutions
Donna and Richard discussed the current educational system’s shortcomings, particularly concerning resource allocation and school performance. Donna mentioned that schools are evaluated on a point system, which could affect the reporting of discipline problems. She also advocated for increased accountability among students and a renewed focus on academics.
Addressing Jefferson County’s Educational Challenges
Donna and Richard discussed the educational challenges in Jefferson County, with Donna expressing concerns about inconsistent standards and the need for consistency across schools. Donna, as a board member, reiterated her commitment to accountability and transparency, and her belief in promoting high standards for all students. She also noted the classroom experience of the current superintendent. Richard appreciated
Poverty’s Impact on Virtual Education
Donna discussed online Jefferson Virtual Academy. They expressed concern about the high student-to-teacher ratio, with three teachers assigned to 26 kids, while in-person classes might have 30 students and one teacher. Donna advocated for higher standards and better measures of student achievement.
Election Anticipation and Budget Discussion
Donna indicated that the Superintendent prepares the budget, and it is approved by the Board of Education almost as a formality.
Declining Enrollment and School Choice Impact
Richard and Donna discussed the declining enrollment in local schools. Donna expressed that it is good for parents to have the choices in education, including public schools, the Hope Scholarship and the new charter school, especially since public schools have declined in performance in recent years.
Concerns Over Covid-19 Relief Funds
Donna expressed concerns about the use of funds, particularly regarding the creation of new positions and the payment of additional stipends in the School Board office, making it top-heavy. Richard agreed and noted that the Kanawha County school district has about twice as many students but a smaller amount of central office staff per student.  This prompted discussions on potential policy adjustments for the next year. Donna had contacted the superintendent to seek clarity on the intricacies of the stipend system, acknowledging that the lack of transparency could lead to confusion among the public.
School Choice and Improving Public Education
Donna expressed regret over the deterioration of the public school system, which has led to people seeking alternatives. She emphasized that options are necessary to create healthy competition and motivate improvements within the public school system.
Evaluating System Integrity and Culture
Richard asked about yet another teacher at Jefferson high school arrested for criminal sexual behavior.  Donna responded by stating that she had requested an independent evaluation of Jefferson High School from both the former and current Superintendent.  The purpose of the evaluation is to examine the culture that seemed to allow such incidents to occur annually since 2016.

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