Edward W. Fields, 906 Ridge Avenue, New Cumberland

Why are you running for school board?   I believe the people of Hancock County deserve the strongest educational system possible to foster success for all students.  I am a regular citizen with no formal experience as an educator who has no hidden agenda.  I am a reasonable and rational listener who considers all the available information when making a decision. Accountability, integrity, fiscal responsibility, and a common-sense approach to solving problems will lead Hancock County’s education system into the future. I want to provide our students with the best educational opportunities possible and prepare them for success in whatever future vocations they choose.  Likewise, our faculty and staff deserve strong support from the Board as their roles continue to evolve due to technology and social issues.

I am involved with schools across the entire county.  This involvement has shown me that we have a solid educational foundation with a long history of successful students, but there is always room for improvement.  We must provide a wide menu of opportunities for students at all academic levels that will allow them to succeed in a variety of occupations.  I believe in responsible innovative approaches and exploring best practices that are producing positive outcomes in other state and local school systems.  Those already proven and tested best practices can be adapted, with community and staff input, to fit the specific needs and circumstances of Hancock County.  I believe I am the right candidate to foster this environment and to serve the entire county in this endeavor.

What qualifications do you bring to the position?      I am committed to the citizens and youth of Hancock County as evidenced by my continued involvement in the community and school system.  I have experience as a board member having served 6 years beginning in 1992. I continue to stay current on school policy and the needs of our school system. I am a reasonable, rational listener who takes all information into account when making decisions and uses a common sense approach to problem solving. My involvement in multiple community organizations and school activities throughout the county affords me a diverse understanding of issues and perceptions concerning education in Hancock County.

The new Weir High baseball complex and the additional classrooms needed in the county have gone out for bid.   If both projects cannot be funded, what projects would you vote to fund and why?     Both projects are important as they will benefit both the students and the greater community, but our primary responsibility is to ensure that students and teachers have the tools and physical environment needed to be both safe and successful. If additional classrooms are needed, they must be our first priority; however, this decision must be based on factual analysis.  The Board of Education should look at the projected enrollment and the current availability of classroom space for the students now and in the future. If the relevant data related to current and projected population and academic requirements proves that additional classroom are needed, they must take precedence. 

As noted above, however, a new on-campus baseball/softball complex can also have a positive effect on students both athletically and academically, as well as, fostering increased community involvement and school spirit. If both projects cannot be fully funded, the Board should collaborate with the school’s administrators and community leaders to explore and identify additional funding sources so that the plan for the complex can continue to move forward. 

Do you support using outside legal counsel rather than the services of the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office?   Whenever possible, the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office should be utilized by the Board.  In many routine situations, the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office will be able to successfully serve the needs of the Board of Education.  However, over the last several decades, some legal issues surrounding the education system have become very complex and specialized. They incorporate many varied and sometimes competing facets of the law and involve numerous requirements imposed by both federal and state authorities.  In these highly complicated scenarios, the services of outside legal firms who specialize in the ever-evolving field of education law should be secured to ensure the best legal outcomes for the citizens of Hancock County.

HB 4071 took 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 that legislation?    I believe in and am a long-time proponent of local control for county Boards of Education whenever possible.  The needs of students and staff are better served by a local authority who is more familiar with the environment at the county level.  West Virginia is a state that varies greatly from region to region, and what is appropriate and reasonable in one region does not always fit the needs or circumstances in another region.  It is important that County Boards of Education retain the authority to make the best decisions for it schools free from larger political considerations at the state level.  Input from parents, experts, and community members also deserves a place to be heard and considered.  The local Board of Education provides the pubic with this opportunity to be heard, and the Board’s decisions are communicated openly through local media outlets and community word-of-mouth.   Local boards must work in conjunction with the state of West Virginia, but local control is extremely important and best fits the needs of Hancock County’s schools, students, parents, and community members.