Education, Latest News, Preston County

Two more Preston BOE candidates speak with DP edit board

The fate of Rowlesburg and Fellowsville schools are an issue the next Preston County Board of Education will likely have to tackle in coming years.

Two candidates, incumbent Jeanne Dreisbach and Cross Kisner, were asked for their thoughts on that matter during a discussion with The Dominion Post’s editorial board in a make-up session on Wednesday. The interview covered topics both local and national that can, have, or will affect the quality of education in the county.

All candidates were asked the same seven questions and had two minutes to respond to each, with five minutes for additional thoughts at the end.

“Nobody wants to see a school building close. And whoever thought bigger, better, schools were better way back when, well, that’s not, that doesn’t ring true either,” Dreisbach said. “Because research is now showing that’s false.”

However, one of the duties of the board is fiscal responsibility.

“Unfortunately, in those two schools, we have whole grades, grade levels that have fewer than five children,” she said. “And to keep a building, just physically operational with utilities and everything — that’s costly.”

In addition, one of the schools there has combined grades, meaning each student is only getting half of what they should be, Dreisbach said. She doesn’t believe in school closures but in repurposing, and mentioned a desperate need for an alternative learning center for grades 5-12, or a community center.

Kisner spoke about how strong and close-knit a community Rowlesburg is — as much family as neighbors, with events for every holiday.

“None of us want to see it close, we have to fiscally make those decisions,” Kisner said. “Ultimately, at the end of the day, it’s mostly, I don’t believe there’s any way around it. It’s a matter of when, not whether. Only because at certain points the state and the fed says you have to do it, period. We won’t let you go (below) this number … and they’re headed there quickly.”

Kisner said he would love to have disciplinary issues taken out of classrooms across the county and centralized into one location, and there was potential to use either Fellowsville or Rowlesburg for that purpose.

Small classroom sizes also aren’t good for students, he said. It takes at least 15 kids in a class to have the diversity of thought and conversation for general subject matter.

“So it’s not even a fair learning circumstance to those kids. Everybody tends to say, well, the smaller the classroom, the more personalized the attention. But that’s not really true in education. You need some diversity of thought, you need there to be other perspectives,” Kisner said.

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