Banks steps up as new superintendent
Berkeley Springs native David Banks became the county's next school superintendent at the May 1 meeting of the Morgan County School Board.
School officials voted unanimously to offer the position to Banks, who is currently serving as assistant superintendent under David Temple. Temple will leave his post at the end of June after four years as head of county schools.
At the May 1 meeting, board members okayed a three-year contract for Banks, who will make $90,000 during his first year, $92,700 his second and $95,481 during the third year of his contract.
Before rising to the post of assistant superintendent in 2006, Banks was Principal of Warm Springs Middle School from 1999 to 2005, and the county's Child Nutrition and Attendance Director.
Banks is a graduate of West Virginia University, where he earned a Bachelor's of Science in Secondary Education and a Master's degree in education administration.
School board members interviewed four candidates for the superintendent's position, all with strong administrative experience, said school board President Laura Smith.
Banks' knowledge of the area and experience at various levels of Morgan County schools made him stand out as the top choice for the job, according to Smith. Because Banks has worked with Temple, some ongoing projects in county schools will be able to move along without interruption.
"We thought it would provide good continuity," Smith said
In addition to professional connections in the county, Banks has family roots here, too. He is the son of Bob and Janie Banks of Berkeley Springs, and is one of three brothers. Banks' wife, Paula, is a teacher at Berkeley Springs High School and his daughter Alex is in Kindergarten.
Banks said attracting and
keeping trained teachers in the Morgan County school system will be his biggest challenge
as the new superintendent.
The county loses a fifth of its teachers each year, said Banks. While that rate of turnover is typical for the Eastern Panhandle, it's far higher than the counties in the rest of the state, he said.
Salary is always a factor in hiring and retaining teachers, but often a teacher will leave Morgan County to take a job closer to his or her hometown, said Banks.
A committee of educators has been meeting to come up with solutions to the teacher turnover, Banks said. He said housing assistance, tuition reimbursement and new teacher support are key to keeping the school system well-staffed.
Keeping kids first
Banks said his approach to the position of superintendent will be "student centered." All decisions – from bus routes to lunch menus to teacher training – should be made with an eye toward how they will impact a student's day in Morgan County schools, said Banks.
"I believe in educating the whole child," Banks said. "That means the school system should provide a safe route to school, a hot and healthy breakfast, a safe environment free from bullying and harassment and qualified teachers," he said.
Another goal Banks has is for each of the county's 2,600 students to have an adult in their school they can talk to in a time of need. It doesn't matter whether that person is a teacher, a custodian or a community volunteer, said Banks.
"If they're backed into a corner and don't have that person, they're more likely to do something that's harmful to themselves or other people," Banks said.
While he's certainly looking forward to taking the helm of Morgan County schools, Banks said being an administrator does have its down side – namely, not being in the schools with the kids on a daily basis. He hopes, however, to make school visits a regular part of his duties as superintendent.
"I'm excited about being able to work collectively to make decisions that directly impact kids," said Banks.