WHEELING - Local county school superintendents agree that Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's focus on education in his State of the State address Wednesday was a welcome message for West Virginia's education system.
Superintendent Fred Renzella of Marshall County Schools said he was glad to see education at the forefront of Tomblin's agenda, noting that educating children is the key to a successful future.
"I was glad to hear it," Renzella said. "Education deserves that level of attention by our governor. Our kids are challenged more than they have ever been challenged. They have to compete in the world for jobs, so education is critical. Education is on the forefront. And you couple that with the oil and gas industry opportunities, and the fact that we'll generate more dollars, we need to be able to give a first class education that will allow our kids to compete in the job market."
Superintendent of Ohio County Schools Dianna Vargo said she was pleased to hear Tomblin is not looking to cut state aid to schools, and that he wants to give local school boards more control over their school calendars.
"We are appreciative of the governor empowering local boards of education with flexibility of their school calendars to meet the needs of each individual county," Vargo said. "We're excited and we're grateful for the fact that he's listened to what the local boards of education have requested. It's a positive response from Ohio County."
Superintendent of Hancock County Schools Suzan Smith also expressed her excitement over the state potentially allowing schools to have more local control.
"They had indicated that we are one of the heaviest regulated systems on a statewide basis, so some of those controls are going to be relinquished and laws will be changed to give counties more local control - and to not have a one size-fits all system, but to let counties work with their individual situations," Smith said. "I think that's a good thing."
Smith said many positive things came from Tomblin's statewide Education Efficiency Audit released in January, as she believes Tomblin is working to provide a better education system in the state.
"I think that it is important that we take a look at this and work to improve education on a statewide basis," Smith said. "I really am looking forward to what changes will be taking place in the legislative session this next 60 days."