Mallett: Focus To Be Raises, Employees

WHEELING – New Ohio County Board of Education president Shane Mallett said employee concerns and the budget will be the board’s focus under his leadership, and he will push to get raises for all those working in Ohio County Schools.

Mallett was selected board president Monday night after being sworn in to a second four-year term in office by longtime Judge Arthur Recht. Also sworn in were Christine Carder – also beginning her second term – and newly elected member Tim Birch.

The three join Gary Kestner and Sarah Koegler on the board.

Birch’s first act as a board member was to nominate Mallett as president, and the move was seconded by Carder.

Mallett told those present who represent labor unions in the school district they no longer should sit in the back of the board’s meeting room. Space would be made for them at the front, where they can offer input during meetings, he said.

“Employees will be our focus, and we will make this board an employee-friendly board,” Mallett said. “We will listen to our most important asset.”

The board also will look closely at budgeting concerns, and how the school district’s excess levy rate can be reduced in the coming years so as to return money to Ohio County taxpayers, he said. Earlier this year, Mallett supported rolling back the school district’s levy rate from 95.5 percent to 95 percent.

“We’ll also be looking at possible pay raises for all employees, who haven’t had a raise in eight years,” Mallett said. “Can we do it? This needs to be addressed. We haven’t had budget meetings to address the issue, and under new leadership, we will.”

The raises for employees would be on top of those provided at the state level, he said.

Mallett, 36, an attorney, is the son of two retired teachers from Ohio County Schools, John and Stephanie Mallett. He is a 1995 graduate of Wheeling Park High School and went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from West Virginia University with a degree in business management and economics. He received his law degree in 2002 from WVU. He succeeds as school board president James Jorden, who was not re-elected in the May 13 election.

“As everyone knows, it was a very trying election,” Mallett told school board members Monday night. “We’re going to try and put that behind us. We’re going to address a lot of the concerns brought up during that time, and make Ohio County Schools even greater than we already are and be the best school system in the state of West Virginia. We could have one of the best in the country we could be proud of.”

Birch, 59, has served as the superintendent of operations for the city of Wheeling for the past 28 years. He removed his ever-present hat as he was being sworn into office Monday night.

“I’m just happy to be here,” he said. “I learned more than I expected over the past few months, and I hope to put it to work here. I hope everyone will be patient with me as I’m the new kid on the block.”

Carder, 63, retired as principal at WPHS, and serves as the executive director of the West Liberty University Foundation Inc.

“I’m glad to be back, and to be able to serve the students of Ohio County,” she said.