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Candidates file for Kanawha school board

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Seven people, including incumbents Pete Thaw and Becky Jordon, will run for the three seats available on the Kanawha County Board of Education in May.

Other candidates include former Senate Minority Leader Vic Sprouse; Calvin McKinney, a former longtime principal in Kanawha County schools; Charleston attorney Ryan White; Kanawha County Schools special education mentor Tracey White and former school board and House of Delegates candidate Curtis Robinson.

The deadline to file for candidacy for the May 13 primary election was Saturday.

The three seats up for election on the five-member school board include those of board President Thaw and board member Jordon -- who are both running for re-election -- as well as Bill Raglin's, who died in November.

No more than two people on the school board can represent the same district. Jordon and Thaw represent District 2; Robinson, Sprouse and Ryan White would represent District 1; Tracy White and board member Jim Crawford would represent District 3; and McKinney and board member Robin Rector would represent District 4.

School board member Dennis Davis, who was elected to replace Raglin in the interim and represents the 3rd District, did not file for the full term.

Board members serve four-year terms.

Sprouse, a former member of the House of Delegates and the Senate, who served on the Senate Education Committee for 10 years, has been vocal about his stance on local education issues -- demanding that the board wait until May to make a decision on a new library levy attempt, and speaking out against the system's move to cut summer school programs.

Sprouse has a kindergartner in the Kanawha school system, as well as another child who will enter the system in two years.

White, also a parent of two in the system, plans to focus his efforts, if elected, on reducing bureaucracy, class size and dropout rates, while increasing the number of children enrolled in pre-kindergarten.

McKinney, who served as Sissonville High School's principal for 28 years and has worked in the Kanawha County school system for four decades, said he doesn't has a specific platform in mind, but will do whatever is best for students.

"Those who taught under me and know me know that I'm an advocate for kids. I believe in making decisions for kids. Sometimes, when decisions are made, they don't have the kids in mind," McKinney said. "I've been around this education system all of my life, and I just thought I could contribute something. I know a little bit about this system."

Tracy White, a substitute teacher for Kanawha County Schools, has three children who are in or have gone through the school system -- all of whom have an autism disorder.

She hopes to improve the county's special education services, including gifted programs and for any student that requires a special education plan.

"I think special ed needs a voice on the board, and by that I mean anybody that doesn't fall in that cookie-cutter mold -- whether it's gifted or special intervention," White said.

White also hopes to focus on overcrowding problems in schools.

Robinson could not be reached for comment.

Reach Mackenzie Mays at mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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