By Chelsi Baker
Times West Virginian
Sam Brunett is running for Marion County Board of Education.
He is representing the Palatine District and lives on Pleasant Valley Road.
He is currently an art teacher and department chair at Morgantown High School.
After obtaining his Master of Fine Arts from West Virginia University, Brunett substitute taught for a few years before serving as the art teacher at Cheat Lake Middle School for 15 years.
He lives with his wife, Kim, and 5-year-old son Cameron, who attends the Marion County Pre-K Program at East Fairmont High School and will attend Pleasant Valley kindergarten next year. His oldest son, Jack, attends school at Simpson in Harrison County.
Concerning Marion County Schools facilities, Brunett is strongly opposed to consolidating Mannington and Monongah middle schools. He does not feel the consolidation will better serve the students, he said.
“I believe that two smaller schools offering the same amenities can be as cost-efficient short-term and even more cost-efficient the long term than an unnecessary consolidation,” said Brunett.
“If we are going to put kids first, then the bus travel alone should determine that outcome. Those communities rely upon those schools as a hub, and they should continue doing so as close, if not on the same footprint they currently sit.”
Brunett is a self-proclaimed advocate of keeping schools as the close hubs of neighborhoods and communities, and as a BOE member he feels it would be his duty to consider the input from the taxpayers of Marion County before any decision was made.
After the issues surrounding the middle schools is addressed, Brunett would like to see the next wave of improvements focused on the county’s older elementary schools, using the same method of keeping those neighborhood schools in their neighborhood, he said.
“East Park, Barrackville and some of our other structures have experienced difficulty due to their age,” he said. ”Again, neither busing nor consolidation in those schools is the solution. We need to keep those neighborhoods intact and keep kids on shorter bus rides.”
Concerning education in the classroom, Brunett believes middle school students should be introduced to Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs in middle school by bringing back classes like tech ed and family consumer science.
“Students can then build upon that foundation through class offerings in CTE in ninth-12th grades so we have the option to graduate students career ready,” he said.
“We have to embrace the fact that not all students are going to go to college,” said Burnett.
“We must prepare those students to be successful upon graduation. We should expand the Career and Technical Education program so that an introduction and exploration to these career options are available.”
Marion County can apply for waivers to allow room academically for those students who choose a career path, and that will allow for a successful graduation without the confining requirements by the state for the college-bound student, he said.
“We can also establish partnerships with business, industry and unions to aid in establishing training and resources geared towards a career-ready graduate.”
Brunett would also like to see Marion County Schools expand the Advanced Placement program, enabling students to take more college-credit courses during their high school years, he said.
“Expanding AP will provide future savings for those college-bound parents who will eventually be paying the college rate, while affording our students greater opportunities and course offerings during their high school years,” he said.
As far as staffing is concerned, Brunett’s number one objective is to put a highly qualified, certified teacher in every Marion County classroom.
“I would also strive to achieve the lowest possible teacher/student ratio with the smallest possible class sizes to ensure the best possible opportunity for our children,” he said.
He also believes education dollars should be directed to classrooms where it is most effective for children.
“I have spent my entire career actively reaching to improve the teaching profession and advocating for students,” said Brunett. “I have served and continue to serve on many school, county, state and national committees to improve education.”
He currently serves as an executive board member of American Federation of Teachers West Virginia/American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations and president of Monongalia County AFT/AFL-CIO. He serves on the West Virginia Department of Education’s Teacher Evaluation Task Force, the WVDE Safe Schools Committee, The Reconnecting McDowell Project and various other groups and projects that advocate for the children, teachers and the schools of West Virginia.
He is also a member of the Marion County Democratic Men and the Moose No, 9 in Fairmont.
“I want what is best for my children as every parent does,” Brunett said. ”I am confident that my expertise can bring what is best for not just my children but all children in Marion County.”
Email Chelsi Baker at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @cbakerTWV.