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Phillips to resign from Putnam school board

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After almost 12 years, Debbie Phillips will step down from the Putnam County Board of Education.

Phillips said Friday her resignation would take effect Monday. The school board will appoint a replacement, she said. Her term would have expired in June 2014.

"I really hate to do this; it's been a tough decision. I took the letter to the board office three times before I handed it to them," she said.

Phillips, 60, of Scott Depot, said she needs more time to focus on her new business venture, Government Solutions LLC, which she started after leaving the Arnold Agency public relations firm.

Phillips recalled the jam-packed school board meetings that often got heated when she was first elected in 2002.

"I feel like we restored a lot of trust issues -- at times there would be 100 people at the meetings," she said. "I felt like I got control of the meetings and made sure we stayed on track."

Phillips attributes her management style to what she learned during her time spent in the state House of Delegates from 1989 to 1994.

During her time on the school board, the county underwent great change. In 2009, voters approved a bond that allowed the board to replace outdated facilities, build auxiliary gymnasiums, and rid the district of portable classrooms.

"I ran because of the portables," she said.

Ten years ago, the county was forced to use 86 portable classrooms. In 2011, the state School Building Authority agreed to help fund the upgrade at Conner Street that would eliminate the last six portable classrooms in use in the county.

Current board members all got along and were able to compromise, Phillips said -- something she hopes her replacement will realize is important.

"I hope someone is appointed who has the same ability to work together with no drama. You need to disagree and debate, but once you make a decision, you have to work together, because it's about the kids," she said.

It's also important not to micromanage the superintendent, Phillips said, adding that although she didn't vote to hire Superintendent Chuck Hatfield, she thinks he's done a good job.

"I didn't agree with it at the time, but I think we've worked really well together. We have a lot of respect for each other," she said.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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