CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A newly-appointed member of the Kanawha County Board of Education says there’s a lot of work she would like to see get done to improve the county’s education system during her time serving in the role.

A local attorney, Kate White made an appearance on The Dave Allen Show 580 LIVE to talk about the challenges and future anticipations that Kanawha County Schools are facing. White officially stepped into the role on Jan. 27 to replace her husband, Ryan White, who resigned to run for State Intermediate Court of Appeals.

Kate White

During the show, Kate White said she’s passionate about doing the work to improve the education system in the county for the sake of the children who make it up.

“My desire to make sure we’re meeting kids, all of their needs, where they are is just something that drove me to want to do this,” White said.

White has three children who attend Kanawha County schools.

She said upgrades to schools, the declining student population, and the overall student wellbeing are all issues that will continue to need to be addressed amongst the board.

Following last year’s permanent closure and consolidation of a few elementary schools in the county to address low student enrollment, White said this is a need that they must prepare for the possibility of happening again as the school system continues to try and maintain a balanced budget.

White said teacher staffing shortages, of course, pose another challenge that affects student’s education and needs some more balance.

“We’ve got a lot of kids that are still recovering from Covid, some are facing a lot of challenges at home, and so making sure that we have enough teachers to meet their needs, but that our teachers aren’t overwhelmed and they’re getting the support they need, too,” she said.

White said parents have been choosing alternative platforms for their children’s education over recent years, whether through charter schools or virtual remote learning programs, which she said has contributed to the low student enrollment in public schools.

However, White offered up some solutions to this issue by saying that the school system needs to continue to push the message to parents that there is so much success students see within the public school system, as well, despite the challenges that it faces– problems that she said have always been there in some form or another and which will continue to always need to be addressed– but that she said shouldn’t deter parents from entering their kids into public schools.

She said she believes it’s also important public schools push the message that kids can have a bright future right here in the state rather than going elsewhere.

“We also want to make sure that we keep our kids here in West Virginia, we want them to stay, we want them to be educated, college and career-ready, but we also want them to stay here and see the good that they can do in their community and contribute back to West Virginia,” said White.

She said KCS works closely with local community colleges to create more pathways for students who are looking to go into one of the many trades offered in the state rather than just pushing four-year degree universities as the only option.

White will serve as a member on the KCS board through July, 1, 2024 until a new member is elected.