WHEELING - Ohio County Board of Education member Gary Kestner will serve as the group's first-ever vice president, officials announced Tuesday.
Board president Shane Mallett introduced Kestner as his vice-president, saying the two share similar goals of reducing the school district's bond levy of 95.5 percent by a half percent, and seeking raises for teachers and school service personnel. The position of vice president was established shortly after Mallett was sworn in as president July 8.
Kestner said he shares the common goal of the majority of board members that students be able to achieve and excel.
"I would like to see our test scores increase, and see our students start to think outside the box and be creative," he said. "This goes for our teachers, too. They should be able to think outside the box, and inspire. ... We will actually listen to the public, and encourage them to have input. It's called public education for a reason."
Prior to being elected to the school board, Kestner was employed by the school district as its director of transportation.
"Mr. Kestner has overwhelming credentials for the position," Mallet said. "Mr. Kestner and I tried to lead the battle to reduce (the excess levy rate) here in Ohio County, but we were defeated by (board members) Mrs. (Christine) Carder, Mrs. (Sarah) Koegler, and (former board president) Mr. (James) Jorden."
Neither Carder nor Koegler were present at Tuesday's proceedings. Tim Birch, who defeated Jorden in this year's school board election, was in attendance.
Kestner said he would work toward decreasing levy rates and other forms of taxes, while encouraging the board not to overspend. The school district's budget is just over $60 million.
At the same time, he advocates giving pay raises to teachers and service personnel.
"These are tough issues," Kestner said. "If we accomplish this, we will have really done something."