Perhaps it took signs and chairs to bring us all together. With all the recent uproar about signs in the Lincoln County High School gymnasium and chairs that were “loaned” to the school, we have seen a general agreement by state and local school board officials. This may indicate a new era of cooperation between the two. We do not doubt the sincerity of those at both levels — state and local — who have pledged cooperation in the past. Honestly, we think that has always been the goal. But developments have caused occasional rifts in the relationship. Frankly, the situation in Lincoln County schools in not conducive to a harmonious relationship between the state and county boards. The county board, elected by the people of Lincoln County, would like to be in charge of the school system. But a state takeover in 2000 has left the state board in control for the past eight years. Obviously, that causes some stress on the relationship. Still, when local board members were able to voice their concerns about the signs and chairs to the state board and its superintendent, their positions were heard as never before. County board members who talked to their state counterparts said they were pleased that the Charleston board saw things their way. Soon, it appeared that State Superintendent Steven L. Paine, County Superintendent David L. Roach, and the state and county board members all agreed on a solution. First, as had been suggested by local board members Carol Smith, Thomas Ramey, Jr., Billie Frye and Phoebe Harless from the beginning, a policy will be put in place to govern placement of business signs on school property. In this manner, all businesses will be treated equally. No signs can go up if the policy is not followed. This will eliminate favoritism and the “politics” that Roach says he desperately wants to eliminate from the local school system. All Panther boosters will have an equal opportunity to advertise their support on the school’s gymnasium walls and athletic field (LCHS has only a baseball field of its own). This is how it should be and nobody will complain about a policy that is fair and equitable. As for the chairs, we remain mystified by the benefactor who appears to always “give” to the school system — with strings attached. If every little thing doesn’t go this man’s way, he “withdraws” financial support or takes back “his” property. (We might remind officials that there is a provision of West Virginia law that says when private property is placed upon public property for a period of time, it becomes government property). But administrators at both the state and local level have agreed on that as well. New chairs will be purchased for LCHS. That is as it should have been to begin with. The private benefactor should not have been given the opportunity to hold a high school and its students “hostage” with his chairs. Never again should LCHS or any other school in the county rely upon a “gift” that can be “taken back.” Whatever the cause, however, harmony between the state and local boards appears on the horizon. We believe both share a goal of providing the best education possible for our children. That is a noble purpose and will be much better achieved with cooperation by all concerned.
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