NEW CUMBERLAND - Four candidates are running for three open positions on the Hancock County Board of Education. Three of those four are current board members.
The non-partisan office, which is set to be decided during the May 13 primary election, features returning board members Laura Greathouse, John Manypenny and Toni Hinerman, along with political newcomer Michelle Chappell.
Chappell believes she has the experience to understand the system, the innovation to bring the most cutting-edge methods to the county, and the leadership to advance Hancock County Schools as one of the best systems in the state.
"One of the biggest challenges ... is the lack of systemic vision," said Chappell, that the county would benefit from a strategic plan.
"I believe that a public office is awarded by voters as a matter of trust," she said.
While Greathouse believes the public has a right to question decisions made by the board, she also emphasizes that her decisions will be based upon what, in her opinion, is best for the children and employees of the district.
"We have a non-biased board and a superintendent who has vision and strength," said Greathouse, adding that it was under the current board that the levy allowing improvements to current schools and the building of the new Weirton Elementary School was passed.
"I know first-hand what is needed at New Manchester Elementary as well as Weir Middle school," Hinerman said.
With time spent as both a teacher and parent in the system, she understands the needs and concerns of both parties.
"Having both perspectives has been helpful to me when making decisions for the board."
Citing Hancock County's newly renovated schools and sports facilities, Hinerman said the area has a lot to offer young families.
Throughout his time on the board, Manypenny has been proactive in working with various county groups, including 4-H, he said.
"You put everything out there for the public. Positive or negative," Manypenny said, adding he recognizes people may not always be happy with the results.
Regarding plans for a Hancock County cyberschool, Manypenny believes the project will improve the area's graduation rate.
"By doing this, we can retain students who might drop out," Manypenny said, adding that those who take cyberclasses will still be monitored.