By Rachel Dove
Jacqueline “Jackie” Branch, a Williamson resident who was a member of the Mingo County Board of Education from 2008 to 2012, has re-entered the race to regain the seat she once held.
“I was elected to the Board of Education in 2008 and served the people of Mingo County for four years,” Branch said. “I was chosen by my fellow board members to preside as vice president. During my term, I gained valuable experience and developed insight regarding the issues facing our county school district, which has been under state control for many years.
“As a childcare center director, and as a member of the county’s collaborative team for Universal Pre-K programs, I have experience working with several departments in the West Virginia Department of Education, including the Office of Child Nutrition,” she said. “I enjoyed serving on the BOE during my previous term. If elected, I will work hard to represent the interests of our students, teachers and service personnel.”
Branch said the most important work at hand that must be addressed by the Mingo County Board of Education is to work toward regaining local control of our schools. The state Board of Education voted to take over Mingo County Schools in 2005. For the past nine years, the local stakeholders in our school system have worked very hard to improve the quality of our school programs and the quality of instruction for our children.
Branch feels that Mingo County schools have improved in so many areas because of our teachers, our students, our caring service personnel and others who support them. She spoke of how hardworking families and neighbors have paid taxes to help fund our schools and said that all of these deserve a seat at the table.
“Local control means our citizens have a voice,” Branch said. “The task of a newly elected Board of Education member is to show we can be part of that process and to make certain the state Board of Education has confidence in our local leadership, but it is also to represent our citizens, our school employees, our students and their families.
“If elected, I will serve responsibly and professionally. I will be available and listen to the people of Mingo County, as I did in my first term,” she said. “I will also reach out to the state BOE to better understand the issues, which must be addressed to regain control of our schools.
I will work cooperatively with my fellow board members and with our superintendent to reach the goal of placing Mingo County schools back in the hands of Mingo County people,” Branch said.