- Associated Press - Thursday, February 16, 2017

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Board of Education has voted to return full control of Fayette County’s school system to the county, marking the first time since 1998 that no county school systems are under state takeover.

The board voted unanimously for the move Thursday at a meeting in Charleston, contingent on the Fayette board agreeing to a memorandum of understanding with the state board.

“I know the best days are ahead for the students in Fayette County,” state school board President Tom Campbell said in a statement.

In December, the board returned full control to Gilmer County’s school system, which had been under state control since 2011. Last July the Boone County school board averted state intervention by cutting employee pay and benefits in order to balance its budget. Mingo County’s school system was returned to local control in 2014.

The state board voted last month to give Fayette County partial control of its schools except for issues related to facilities. Since then three members of the state board resigned, including the president and vice president, and Gov. Jim Justice has since appointed four new members to the board.

In December the School Building Authority approved funding for capital improvements as part of a consolidation plan that would drop the number of Fayette County’s public schools from 18 to 11.

The state Board of Education had intervened in Fayette County in 2010, citing student achievement and facility issues.

“Our local board has worked hard to address issues and make change in Fayette County,” said Terry George, who was appointed Fayette County’s superintendent in 2015.

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