CHARLESTON, W.Va.— Newly-nominated president of the Kanawha County School board Ric Cavender says after serving on the board for eight years now, he’s happy to be filling the new role.

Cavender was among three board members who took an oath of office at last Monday’s meeting where he was selected as the new president, replacing Tracy White who still remains on the board.

He came on 580 Live with Dave Allen on Monday this week to discuss the new role.

Cavender said despite the school board sometimes getting a bad rap as they are often blamed for policies that occur on the state-level, he said he enjoys being the link between the community and the school system.

“At the end of the day there’s just some things we can’t control and we’re the ones on the county-level, the local folks that sometimes get blamed, so for those reasons I can see why people think it’s not a great role, but we get along so well, the five board members here in Kanawha County and we never really have those issues, it has been really enjoyable,” Cavender said.

Cavender just got elected to his third-term on the board.

He said he’s been witness to a lot of ups and downs in the county’s school system, with the closing down of schools to brand new ones being built and reopened.

A major experience for him during his time with serving on the board came when he first got elected in 2016, Cavender said. He said it was a month before the devastating flooding occurred in the Elkview-Clendenin areas and just prior to Herbert Hoover High School getting destroyed by those floods.

Afterwards, Cavender said he joined the board as they were going to those areas and holding meetings with the community regarding the next steps to take.

He said as unfortunate as it was, it served as a significant learning experience for him.

“That process was really eye-opening for me and to go through that entire eight years, I think it probably took seven years total from the day of the flood until we opened Herbert Hoover High, right it took some time to get that school but, now of course it’s the most beautiful school in West Virginia,” he said.

Cavender said since his time on the board, they have also been faced with the difficult decision of various school consolidations.

He said it’s a decision no school board ever wants to be faced with, but it’s necessary in West Virginia and in the county.

“The reality we face in West Virginia, not just Kanawha County, but in West Virginia we have a dwindling population,” he said. “At the 2021 census as you probably will recall, we were one of the two or three states that had a population decline over the past ten years, that’s not a good thing, so what happens when the state is in decline your counties are in decline, and our county has seen a population decline every year.”

However, despite those challenges, Cavender said he is ready to serve as president to help make those important decisions of doing what’s best for Kanawha County Schools. And he said it helps having great people on the board to help him see those decisions through.

“I would like to think that we serve as a really good example of how you do things on a board, we said this a thousand times, the five of us don’t always agree on everything, but we respect one another and at the end of the day we always come back with the final result, which is what is best for the students and the faculty and the administrators of Kanawha County,” Cavender said.

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