Danny A. Kaser, 120 Congo Arroyo Road, New Cumberland
Why are you running for the Board of Education?
I have been a member of the Hancock County Board of Education since July 1, 2018, and have served as the President since July 1, 2020. I am running for a second term to follow through with the many projects the Board of Education has underway, such as the new ball fields on the Weir High campus and the new classrooms at New Manchester and Weir Middle School. I am an advocate for providing our professional staff training for new education instructional strategies and providing the latest instructional technology for their use. Hancock County Schools are known throughout the State of West Virginia for our high test scores and quality of education provided by our professional staff. As a re-elected Board member I will continue to work to maintain and improve our education delivery and services to student. Our facilities are second to none, I will strive to maintain, update or expand them as needed to protect the tax payers’ property and assure their use for generations to come.
What qualifications and/or experience do you bring to the position?
I have worked in the school business since 1973. I taught in Hancock County Schools at both Weir High School and the JDR Career Center. I have a Masters Degree in School Administration and served in many administrative capacities between 1989 through 2007. The positions included Vocational Director, Special Ed Director, Assistant Maintenance Director, Finance Director, Title I and Title II Director, and Superintendent of Hancock County Schools. I am quite familiar with Board Policies, State Board Policies and WV School Law. All of this makes me a very qualified candidate who thoroughly understands the educational, business, and facility components that make up Hancock County Schools.
The new Weir High baseball complex and the additional classrooms needed in the county have gone out to bid. If both projects cannot be funded, what project would you vote to fund and why?
It is my hope that we will be able to complete both the classrooms and the ball fields. I feel the classrooms are the main priority, as both Weir Middle School and New Manchester Elementary are in desperate need for two classrooms each. Before they can be occupied, the classrooms have to be fully completed to standards required by the WV School Building Authority and the State Fire Marshal. It’s impossible to build the classrooms and use them before they are fully completed and cleared for occupancy. The ball fields are also very important, and they have been in the discussion and planning stage for at least 20 years. With the City of Weirton discussing building a new police facility on the Bowman ball fields, it has made this project a necessity. In addition, the Board is discussing expanding sporting activities in the Middle schools. With the fields, we have some options. If the bids come in over the budget we have available, we have the option to seek lease purchase agreements, a QZAB loan (financing option for school systems), volunteers, donations, and our own Maintenance Department. The infrastructure for the lighting, restrooms, concession stands, etc., are included in the base bid so if needed these items can be completed from other sources. I feel very confident that both of these projects will be successfully completed with turf and lighting so they can be fully used on a daily basis.
Do you support using outside legal counsel rather than the services of the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office?
I do support using outside legal council. Years ago the Board of Education used the services of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The services were not free, and we were charged for a portion of an attorney’s salary to offset their added costs. They represented the Board very well, but there were many times when they did not have the expertise and we had to consult with attorneys who specialized in school law. Special Education Law, Bond Levies, Excess Levies, Contracts, Grievances, and law suits against the Board can be very expensive if not handled properly. Over the years school law (over 900 pages) has become so complex that it is now an area of specialization.
HB 4071 takes away the ability of county boards of education to enact a mask mandate and require COVID testing for students, educators and service personnel. Do you support or oppose the legislation?
I do not support the legislation that removes the boards of educations’ ability to impose mask mandates or Covid testing. Health issues should be left up to the local Health Departments and school health professionals with guidance from the State Health Department and the State Board of Education. I voted to mask our employees and students through the worst of the pandemic. I did so for several reasons. First, many of our students live with or are cared for on a daily basis by their grandparents, one of the most vulnerable populations. Second, underlying health conditions for children are not always known at their young age. Third, I felt that it was imperative to do everything we could to keep school open for in person learning. Fourth, I have no medical training, so each time I voted for masking I consulted with and took the advice of our school medical professionals, the people who were on the front line and thoroughly understood what they were confronting. Few of our legislators are medical doctors or scientists, they are politicians. Politics should be left out of school health and safety issues and left to local control.