On The Ballot: School Board

Loudoun’s nine-member School Board oversees the county’s 83,000-student school division with a $1.2 billion budget, 94 schools and a workforce totaling 12,500 fulltime equivalent positions. Board members are paid a salary of $20,000 per year and the chairman is paid $22,000. They serve four-year terms. All nine seats are up for election on Nov. 5; only three incumbents are seeking re-election. At the polls Nov. 5, voters will cast ballots for their choices in the county-wide, at-large race and in their specific district.

Asterisk denotes incumbent


 At Large

Denise Corbo

Age: 54

Occupation: Loudoun County Public School Teacher, President and Founder of StoryBook Treasures, a national literacy nonprofit placing books into the hands of needy children.

Residence: Ashburn

Campaign website: corbo4lcps.com

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I am running for School Board because educating our youth directly impacts their future and the future of our communities, county, and nation. To provide every child with the education they deserve, LCSB members must have a vision, create structures to support that vision, and be accountable to the public. As a 33-year Loudoun resident, 25-year LCPS public school teacher, and mother of three Loudoun graduates, I have spent my entire career touching the lives and hearts of children in the county. I will bring transparency and accountability to the board through a lens of an experienced educator.

What are your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

A Voice for All – Implement a simplified communication system allowing for everyone’s voice to become part of the School Board’s decision-making process. How can our board make the best decisions for our children, without allowing for employee and community input to drive them? If elected, I will create a framework where the board actively solicits the input of all stakeholders. I have already started the conversation with board member, Jeff Morse, about launching this platform.

Action – Through the outreach committee, I will propose the creation of a “LCPS Quick Link” button on school webpages. This will allow all staff, parents, and students a way to directly communicate with the School Board. The database will stream-line the communication that is now delivered through individual emails or public comment at board meetings. This is a new communication tool for everyone to use and access.

Technology – Technology is part of everyday life and a vital skill to bring to the workforce. LCPS needs to ensure that teachers and students have technology that works and meets their instructional needs. We need to provide everyone with appropriate technological tools and training.

Action – With a 30-million-dollar line item, we need to create a Technology Ad-Hoc and/or standing committee responsible for the oversight, policy, and programming related to instructional programs, tools, and overall impact on student learning.

Equity and Diversity – Hire diverse employees, require diversity training that includes the implementation of a culturally-responsive curriculum to celebrate differences, and provide opportunities where all learners have equity and access to all programs.

Action – Transition the Ad-Hoc Committee on Equity to a standing committee responsible for researching current LCPS practices and policies related to equity across the division.

Budget Evaluation – Budget analysis to ensure programs have a positive impact and are data driven. Unnecessary spending must be cut.

Action – Evaluate all instructional programs and initiatives. Breakdown of spending should be transparent from each department. There should be a needs-based assessment and research submitted to the committees and board prior to funding approval.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Transparency and accountability begin with understanding the issues. My slogan is, “A Voice for All,” because I plan to implement a method of communication where transparency and data become part of the board’s decision-making process. How can our school board make the best decisions for our children without allowing for employee and community input and data to drive their decision making? When elected, I will create an innovative framework where the board actively solicits the input of all stakeholders through a simplified communication system.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

The rapid growth within our county and the high turnover of upper-level administration have caused disconnects throughout the school division. We are spending a lot of money on too many new initiatives that lack program data and are challenging for our teachers to manage. Often, these new initiatives are unnecessary, and are not supported by data. In addition, the county must address minority achievement, diversity, school safety, mental health support for students and employees, and a strong budget analysis that looks closely at spending and provides checks and balances of programs so unnecessary spending can be cut.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

  • A Voice for All – Implement a simplified communication system allowing for everyone’s voice to become part of the board’s decision-making process.
  • Technology – Ensuring that teachers and students have technology and tools that work and meet their instructional needs. Provide teachers, students and parents with adequate and appropriate technology training.
  • Equity and Diversity – Take action by hiring diverse employees, require diversity training, implement a culturally-responsive curriculum to celebrate differences, and provide opportunities where all learners have access to programs.
  • Budget Evaluation – Budget analysis to ensure programs have a positive impact and are data driven; unnecessary spending must be cut.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

The budget begins with a needs-assessment. My first priority is to evaluate the spending and request data to justify the spending in each department. After reviewing the FY21 Preliminary Fiscal Outlook, I would request detailed information on the funding of programs where $14.3 million is proposed to support equity, gifted education, social-emotional learning and mental wellness, safety and security, students with special needs, communication, professional learning, and project-based learning and personalized learning. In addition, I would request the same breakdown of the $1.6 million funding for instructional initiatives, to better support next phases like computer-science integration, textbooks, instructional facilitators, and other positions that support our county’s goals. We need to see the breakdown of the proposed spending, the justification of need through research or data to justify spending.

Secondly, we need to reevaluate the $30 million technology budget. We need to include a teacher and student training model and provide technology equipment and software that aligns with the needs of the end users.  My question to staff will be, “How are you capitalizing on our business partnerships to help support and possibly help fund our initiatives?” There is a lot of money out there in the technology sector. Let’s take advantage of it.

Thirdly, I support securing a living wage for our employees and closing the salary sag to better align with surrounding districts.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

As the 2018 Loudoun County Teacher of the Year, founder/president of a national nonprofit and a history of favorably impacting educational practices county-wide, no other candidate has the same experience or expertise. Since 1992, I have worked in 11 LC schools, designed a lesson-plan template to close the gifted, minority identification disparity, introduced the first Loudoun County elementary electronic report card, and helped create and implement the current LCPS mentor program.Many candidates speak to the issues; however, no one has the level of education, business experience, and history of positively impacting the LCPS school division, students and families that I offer.


Kenya Savage

Age: 45+

Occupation: Booz Allen Hamilton

Residence: Chantilly

Campaign website: electkenyasavage.com

 

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

 

I am running for the At-Large Representative seat because the opportunities for every student are not being equitably addressed. Motions are being made with regards to political party affiliation rather than what is best for our students, our teachers, and our District. The School Board race is supposed to be nonpartisan, where the best ideas are carried forward to and implemented on behalf of the voter and not political party agenda. Our schools need to be led by individuals responsible to the voters, not to the political establishment, which is why I decided to run as a non-endorsed candidate.

 Moreover, I think it lacks creditably that voters hear from School Board Representatives when it’s near the end of a term and the election cycle is brewing. Loudoun County is continuing to grow! Which is why I always advocate to grow our children for a greater Loudoun County. Enabling, encouraging, edifying, empowering & equipping our students to be the best Loudoun graduate who meet with excellence any college or career endeavors they pursue. Likewise, I will ensure our teachers remain trained, appreciated, valued, and compensated fairly for being the difference makers to our future leaders.

I did not just decide to run for School Board a few months ago. I am doing the work now, I am in the trenches now, advocating for every child now, and I look forward to continuing in these efforts as the Loudoun County School Board’s At-Large Representative. 

My Priorities in my First Term

My priorities for the first term are to break through the political impasse that detracts from establishing effective policies to offer every student the ability to compete and have opportunities and access to achieve their unique academic potential.

As a nonpartisan candidate, I am uniquely poised to confer and caucus with all members and stakeholders without regard to political party agendas and keep student learning, accountability, choice, training, and safety as the priority to drive our District towards being a world class institution. When I decided not to seek a political party endorsement, I said “NO” to towing a party line. I said “NO” to party affiliation because it was convenient. I said “NO” to excluding great ideas because of Partisanship. And, more importantly, I said “NO” to further politicization of our school board — having politics influence and drive policy decisions on K-12 education. On the contrary, I said “YES” to listening and being accountable to all Loudoun County constituents. I said “YES” to work collaboratively to design a more comprehensive architecture for our students, teachers and schools. I said “YES” to remaining steadfast in my commitment to serve and ensure all students have the opportunity and equitable access to close gaps and achieve their fullest academic potential. More importantly, I said “YES” to you and being your advocate.

* Regarding school safety, a resounding theme while talking with families across the county is trust and communication. As a mom, I understand and can relate with others, wanting to know when our children go off to school, that the institution responsible for their learning also regards their safety in the highest priority. I plan to help establish a comprehensive communication and safety policy working collaboratively with our District Communication and Security Office Directors, community stakeholders, and our local emergency management offices. I have over 25 years working in the national security field, coordinating with multiple organizations with competing priorities; however, each organization requires timely and effective communication to drive decisions and accomplish mission requirements. My decades of experiences in industry and ongoing collaborative  work across our County Government, our School District, and within our community is commensurate with my ability to connect, lead, and contribute, at day one, to conversations and plans to develop and establish a comprehensive safety policy for our District.

How do you concretely plan to accomplish those

Working with all stakeholders, to include parents, community, government offices, schools, teachers, and students, to listen, effect priorities, create solutions and address areas of common interest in order to keep the main thing the main thing. . . the education of every child in Loudoun County.

Working in coordination with other school board members, I plan to do the following:

* Legislate and establish, through policy, the standard process to build greater accountability at all levels within our District, with researched data, to ensure the strategic direction, the mission and goals of our District drive outcomes that advances all student learning and ability, builds student achievement and access, recognizes highly effective educators, celebrates diversity and inclusion; and eradicates inhibitors that detract from being a world class institution;

* Partner with, assess, and adjust school system’s readiness through policy to maintain a safe and trusted institution for learning;

* Craft and recommend through policy, that curriculum and instruction include facets of college, career, military, technical, and agriculture at every school to allow students an option upon graduating from our high schools;

* Contribute to the modernization of a comprehensive communication and outreach policy that connects students and parents with District resources to make smart choices to strengthen student learning and knowledge of resources available;

* Bring niche high school programs and course offerings, such as integrated math and science, advanced placement, Arts, and Agriculture, to every high school, and education center as early as 9th grade;

* Advocate to have foreign languages in elementary schools;

* Leverage business and industry partner relationships to better create efficiencies in budget and promote professional development and educational opportunities for teachers to remain relevant and proficient in their careers; and

* Collaborate with local county and town government offices to ensure the safety and security of our students remains the priority through the development of a comprehensive crisis communication and safety plan.

 What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

I am leading and contributing to these conversations now. My goal is to come in on day one, ready to contribute to ideas, collaborate to shape and engage with colleagues to ensure we have the most effective opportunities for learning for our students, and the most effective measures to hire, train, and retain effective administrators. Waiting until after election is too late.  I am advocating to reintroduce foreign language in elementary schools, increase teacher compensation commensurate with effectiveness, resource for early construction to modernize all schools and school security vestibules, and ensure adequate funding is resourced to identify Specialist to support gaps in training and professional expertise in our special education offices.  The budget process is not a unilateral decision and must be made with collective input from the School Board, Superintendent and other District Administrators, teachers, students, and community. I look forward to working with other School Board members and other stakeholders to set smart budgetary decisions going forward based on the needs, care and concerns of my community.

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I am running for the At-Large seat because the opportunities for all our students are not being equitably addressed. Motions are being made without regard for what is best for our students, our teachers, and our district. The School Board race is supposed to be nonpartisan. Our students, our teachers, and our community deserve a representative who represents them without regard to political party and who works to make Loudoun the best district in the nation. Enabling, encouraging, edifying, empowering and equipping our students to be the best Loudoun graduates and meet with excellence any college or career endeavor.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I will govern to foster a culture of trust and accountability through policies and working in coordination with board members, to ensure our students achieve their fullest academic potential for higher education, career, or military service. Likewise, I will fight for training and professional development opportunities which will allow our teachers, principals, and district leaders to authentically connect with students. Lastly, I will coordinate with other board members and our local Loudoun County emergency management offices to develop a crisis management system policy that improves communication and school safety.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

Working with several commissions, boards, and nonprofit organizations in our community, I understand top issues facing our Loudoun County students—which includes believing their district does not see them and value their uniqueness. Our district continues to evolve and expand in enrollment and diversity. Diversity not just in race, but in students’ abilities. Our District must support all students individually and provide access to broadband internet services. Other issues include an enormous tie to smartphones, social media validation which leads to mental health concerns, middle school bullying, and high accessibility to illicit drugs, alcohol and vaping in high schools.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

Kenya Savage: My main priorities are coined in #SavageACTS!

  • Accountability – Partner with, assess, and adjust school system’s readiness through policy to raise student achievement and opportunity at each elementary, middle, and high school;
  • Choice – Empower and educate students and parents with District resources to make smart choices to strengthen student learning;
  • Training – Leverage business and industry partner relationships better to promote professional development and educational opportunities for teachers to remain relevant and proficient in their careers; and
  • Safety – Overhaul policies and agreements with local county and town government offices to ensure the safety and security of our students remains the priority.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Voters should choose me because I get it! I’m your advocate. Advocating for our children, our teachers, and our schools. I’m like you, foot stomping when things aren’t going well. I will listen all the time, not when it’s convenient or popular. I will keep our students the priority, lead with integrity and ethics all the time, advocate for a greater district, and build relationships with government leaders to ensure LCPS is incorporated as a priority in larger county wide growth initiatives. If we have #SavageACTS, we have the tenants to grow our District writ large for a greater Loudoun.

Julie Sisson

Age: 51

Occupation: Accountant

Residence: Leesburg

Website: electjuliesisson.com

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

I chose to run for School Board because although my own children are nearly grown, I want to make sure that Loudoun’s future students have the best opportunities possible. 

Our schools need common sense leadership from someone who is service oriented and financially qualified and who understands that the School Board should be both a policy maker and a watch dog – not a rubber stamp for central administration.

My number one issue is the improvement of the District’s transparency and communication, particularly when it comes where we are spending our money.  The fact is that we – as citizens, parents, and taxpayers – don’t really know how those priorities are being set.

I’ve spent my career as a CPA, providing services to clients and running a small business.  With the LCPS budget now more than $1B, I want to bring my unique skillset to the Board. 

I am the only financial professional running for the School Board.  I bring 30 years of experience and a critical eye to the job.  With with 67% of our Loudoun taxes going to the schools, we need someone who knows what questions to ask and whether those answers make sense – and I plan to ask a LOT of questions.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

In addition to improving transparency and communication about our spending, my priorities for the next budget are simple – reduce waste and prioritize our classrooms.  We can only do that by understanding the details behind the numbers.

We also need to make sure our underlying assumptions and methodologies are solid.  For example, earlier this year, LCPS contracted with an outside statistical consultant to audit their enrollment projection methodology.  The company made 16 recommendations for improving the accuracy of those calculations.  This could have a huge (hopefully positive) effect on predicting over-crowding, along with assisting in our planning for future construction.

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I’m running because our schools need common-sense leadership from someone who is service oriented and financially qualified. I spent my career as a CPA, providing services to clients and running a small business. The LCPS budget is now more than $1.2 billion. I am the only financial professional running and can bring a unique skillset to the board. I’ve also spent more than 15 years volunteering in leadership positions in our schools, donating my time in support of our students and staff. I want to continue my legacy of service, making sure the next generation has the best opportunities possible.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

My ultimate goal is to provide our students with as many choices as possible. As such, over time, I want to increase the course offerings and pathways available to them—whether that be STEM or nursing or fine arts or something new. In order to do that, we need to get our financial house in order. Over the last 10 years, our student enrollment and school-based staff increases have been consistent, but our admin costs have skyrocketed. What does that say about our priorities? My philosophy is: I don’t want to spend more; I want to spend better.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

LCPS currently has a big issue with accountability—not only accountability to parents (e.g. school safety, IEP adherence, staff behavior), but also accountability of Admin to the School Board. In order to make informed decisions, the SB needs detailed information and underlying data. The fact that even they cannot get what they need (re: TJ) is untenable to me. In addition, new initiatives and policies should be proactively and clearly communicated – and then followed. We are all rightly concerned with what we’re seeing in the news lately, and the platitudes are frankly insufficient.  

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

While district candidates will naturally be more locally focused, it is important to have someone who can see the big picture. We have very different issues in the east vs. the west. There are few one-size-fits-all solutions, so we need to be creative and flexible. I want to facilitate and encourage networking and collaboration among our schools to help our teachers see what has worked elsewhere. I also want to institute a way for our stakeholders to provide honest feedback without fear of retaliation. We also need to make improvements in arenas such as substitute teachers and relevant professional development.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

After 15 years of service to our students and staff, I have a deep understanding of our school system. I’ve been involved in nearly every capacity—from PALS tutor to PTA president, from Fine Arts advocate to Volunteer of the Year. In addition, being a CPA sets me apart. I know what questions to ask and when I’m not being answered.  Every voter—whether they have children in LCPS or not—is affected by the quality and cost of our schools. Lastly, I’ve built strong relationships across Loudoun because I’m transparent, accountable, and responsive to the concerns of our citizens. 


Algonkian District

Atoosa Reaser

Age: 47

Occupation: Lawyer

Residence: Sterling

Campaign website: atoosareaser.com

 

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I believe that education is the way for every type of learner to reach their full potential and give back to their community. I believe in taking care of children’s teachers and all Loudoun County Public Schools employees. And, I believe in giving the community a voice in making educational policies. I am running for the School Board to translate these beliefs into a reality at LCPS. Based on my experience and background in both education and law, I believe I am uniquely qualified to accomplish this goal.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

If elected, I will work with fellow board members to improve the relationship between the school district and various stakeholders. With experience as an at-large representative to the Loudoun County Community Policy and Management Team, and as a former member of the Antonin Scalia Law School’s Alumni Board of Directors, I know how to work with teams to achieve strategic goals.Furthermore, I will work with the new board to establish measurable and specific objectives using data to evaluate whether Loudoun County Public Schools is achieving success with regard to its Strategic Goals and Core Beliefs.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

Generally, our school district needs to improve communication and outreach, so parents, teachers, and students have access to information and the opportunity to provide input. With improved information flow, we can better address specific situations.Moreover, LCPS is operating as 92 schools within one division, rather than one division of 92 schools. We need more parity of experience from one school to the next.Finally, we need to ensure that every child has access to an excellent educational experience, whether vocational or traditional, STEM or in the arts—regardless of their learning ability or goals.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

In order to prioritize needs within my district, I have toured the buildings, met with the principals, attended PTA meetings, and conferred with parents, staff and teachers, at most of the schools in the Algonkian District. Based on these exchanges, my priority is to make sure our principals have what they need for their specific student bodies andfacilities. For example, our district has infrastructure needs that need to be prioritized even if they are not considered critical.I will continue to stay current by maintaining a strong presence with regular in-district opportunities for face-to-face exchanges for all stakeholders.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

My priority is ensuring students can reach their full educational potential, regardless of their goals upon graduation.  In order to achieve this goal, I believe we need to enable educators and staff who are responsible for the well-being of our students to provide outstanding instruction by scaffolding them with professional development opportunities and competitive wages.  For example, although new teacher compensation is excellent, we need to close the mid-experience teacher pay sag.  At this time, a teacher who stays in our school district, for the span of their career, will earn well over six figures less than a nearby one.  

In addition, my vision of a well-rounded education includes both curricular and extracurricular activities that allow for EVERY type of learner.  We can ensure these programs are successful in a few ways: (1) giving them the same “air time” that other programs get with formal recognition; (2) giving them the same “play time” on the field (for example, with marching band practices); (3) planning for and implementing an arts magnet program; (4) eliminating school fees associated with extracurriculars and making the opportunities a part of the free public education we provide.  

Furthermore, teachers and students need to feel safe in order to learn.  I will prioritize safety initiatives in the budget, whether they are for infrastructure updates or mental health initiatives. Finally, I will improve communication and access to the LCPS School Board so community members can have their voices heard regarding these and other issues, by providing in-district opportunities for conversations, rather than just public comment.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

With my background in education, as a lawyer, a community leader, and PTA parent, I am already advocating for Loudoun families. I have continuously worked hard over the nine months since I declared my candidacy to become even more qualified and familiar with current board member experiences, the Superintendent and his cabinet, principals, PTAs, and constituent concerns.I ask for your support to continue doing so as your School Board representative in the Algonkian District!

Melanie Turner

Age: Not given

Occupation: Business Development Admin.

Residence: Potomac Falls

Campaign website: melanieturner4schoolboard.com

 

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I have witnessed firsthand the challenges the school system is facing meeting the academic needs of our children. Not only as a mom of four do I have a vested interest in the schools but, as an active volunteer and community leader I have always been interested in serving the community. I know the parents of the community have high expectations because I am one of them, and I want to work to meet those expectations. I believe it is within the power of the School Board to facilitate the needs of our children through academic excellence, the arts, and athletic programs.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

If elected, I will work hard to ensure we can provide a strong core academic curriculum in addition to the arts, athletics, and other extracurricular activities that support the educational development of our children. As a School Board member, I would first and foremost want input from the parents, soliciting ideas and listening to concerns. I would also welcome the input of concerned citizens and especially educators in facilitating transparency and pushing core academics.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

As Loudoun continues to grow, we face challenges of overcrowding and a lack of mathematics, computer, and science courses at all levels to meet the needs of our diverse population. Our schools need to be competitive. I also believe that safety must be a matter of continued discussion in which we listen to concerns and constantly improve procedures. The new board should focus on transparency in the budget and work with the community to allocate funding for exciting mathematics, computer, and science courses.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

My main priorities are lobbying for competitive core academic programs to push Loudoun Schools as the best schools. By providing strong academics it will provide more opportunities for our students to prepare for the challenges of college and future careers. Additionally, school safety has certainly been raised as an important issue. The complex threats our students face today from violence, substance abuse, suicide, depression and anxiety are not issues we can ignore. I would love to be able to focus on implementing policies that don’t that unfairly burden students, teachers and provide solutions to the challenges we are all facing in our schools.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

If elected, I will push for fiscally responsible and practical options for recruiting and retaining talented educators and implementing competitive academic programs. As a board member, I will advocate to take the well-being of our students seriously and be open and responsive to community members, and further push for ways to improve our Loudoun schools.


Ashburn District 

Eric Hornberger*

Age: 51

Occupation: Philanthropy Executive

Residence: Ashburn Farm

Campaign website: VoteEricHornberger.org

 

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I am running for re-election because I am committed to ensuring the success of our public school division that has educated my kids, employs my wife, serves my community, and is critical to the long-term health of our society.  Over the last eight years, I have gained tremendous respect for the complexity of public education and also the terrific job Loudoun County Public Schools has done and continues to do in educating Loudoun’s young people. I believe that I have personally made a significant contribution to that work and am eager to continue doing so going forward.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

If re-elected, I hope to continue the refinement and successful implementation of our Strategic Plan to best meet the needs of Loudoun’s students. Specifically, I look to prioritize the effective roll-out of our core instructional initiatives of project-based learning (PBL), personalized learning (PL) and performance-based assessments (PBA) with increasing emphasis on metrics to gauge success, ensure that all students have equal opportunity to access the curriculum and programs LCPS offers, pursue competitive and fair compensation to recruit and maintain a professional workforce, and ensure that our schools remain a safe and effective learning environment for all.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

LCPS faces many challenges and opportunities. We continue to experience the challenges of prolonged growth in terms of opening new schools, hiring large numbers of highly qualified staff, appropriately serving an increasingly diverse student population, and effectively scaling and equitably pursuing new initiatives.  We also face increasing demands from a variety of stakeholders in a number of important areas. The next School Board needs to continue to utilize the Strategic Plan and its associated Strategic Actions to prioritize the school division’s work and benchmark success, while remaining sensitive to the changing needs and demands of the community it serves.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

Now that the Ashburn District finally has sufficient capacity to end the chronic overcrowding that plagued the district for decades, we must now ensure that our schools are the best they can be.  We are blessed with very good schools, and they can be even better. By appropriately integrating and refining the use of the school division’s core instructional initiatives of PBL, PL and PBA in all our schools, the education that our students receive should be increasingly engaging, relevant, personalized and comprehensive to move from very good to great. That will be my focus if re-elected.

What are your top accomplishments during your current term, and why does your experience matter?

I am most pleased with our success in dramatically expanding advanced STEM and CTE opportunities through the Academies of Loudoun, making LCPS the leader in offering dual enrollment within the state, expanding secondary school mental health supports, reforming our elementary school math and gifted education curriculum, achieving full-day kindergarten, improving the competitiveness of compensation for our teachers, reducing average class sizes, launching core instructional initiatives that should propel greater student engagement and success, and multiple safe-routes-to-school projects in the Ashburn District to improve student safety. I have been personally involved in each and worked collaboratively to make them happen. 

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

My budget priorities will continue to focus on enhancing the school division’s ability to maximize fulfillment of its core educational mission.  These include ensuring that LCPS offers increasingly competitive compensation to attract and retain high quality talent for our large and growing school division, provides engaging curriculum and instruction opportunities that meet the diverse needs of each and every student in a safe and effective learning environment, and wisely stewards the resources entrusted to it by the taxpayers of Loudoun County.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

As a parent, community activist and civic leader, I joined the board with demonstrated ability to work for positive change. That has increased significantly in breadth and depth as a member of the School Board over the last eight years. It is one thing to recognize a problem or challenge. It is another to be able to work diligently to come up with the solutions needed to address it and effectively collaborate with others to make them happen. It also takes dedication to pursue a vision. That is exactly what I have done and will continue to do if re-elected.

Harris Mahedavi

Age: No response

Occupation: President, Harris Grant Consulting

Residence: Ashburn

Campaign Website: harris4ashburn.org

 

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

Every successful organization lives and dies because of their culture. I am running to improve the culture of LCPS. I am running because I want schools:

  • to “appreciate and care” every student, not just the high achievers,
  • to “elevate” our school programs so we can offer more STEAM opportunities for all students,
  • to “invest” in our students’ future by retaining and hiring the best teachers,
  • to “open” every communication channel to reach and engage with parents and citizens and,
  • to “uplift” our children’s mental health through counselors, social workers and other support programs and make it a safe place.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I want our school system to care for the wellbeing of all children. Remove the test anxiety and stress from not only the students but the teachers as well. We as a community need to focus on developing and improving the emotional intelligence of our students during the early elementary years of education. So, when these students arrive at high schools, they are ready to take on more challenging curriculum and tasks. But more importantly, when they graduate, they are well prepared for the future and are ready to be leaders of our country.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

Harris Mahedavi: Below are some of the major issues LCPS is facing today.

  • Children Safety and mental health – Protecting children from guns, bullying and cyber bullying, from adults who prey on children at school. Improve access to mental health initiatives, access to counselors and social case workers.
  • Communication – Open all communication channels, review the communication process, and make information more timely and easily understood.
  • Attract and Hire Teachers – Hire great passionate teachers and compensate them well
  • Diversity and bias training – Loudoun’s school population is diverse, we need to acknowledge and prepare the schools for that.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

Ashburn is not immune from other districts challenges. Schools should be a safe place for our children as they spend almost one third of a day in schools. Students suicides (e.g. at Stone Bridge couple years ago) or the recent issue of Trailside have no place in our society, even one is too many. I am going to work tirelessly in creating an environment that is stress free, stress from unnecessary testing; eradicate bullying, include cyber bullying. I would like to make sure Ashburn schools have proper access to mental health programs and professional staff to help students.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

We have had the same visionless policy and decision-making process in LCPS for over 8 years, the progress has been real slow and not in line with the changing diverse Loudoun population. As an elected official, I would bring in fresh perspective to create progressive and forward-looking policies that help improve the quality of education, elevate our children’s learning experience and keeps them safe. I will work to make myself available to my constituents through town halls, and other channels; to listen to them and represent them well, and bring smart change to LCPS.


Blue Ridge District

Ian Serotkin

Age: 39

Occupation: Director of IT Services

Residence: Purcellville

Campaign website: ianserotkin.org

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

I’m running for School Board because I truly believe that we can make Loudoun County Public Schools into the best public school system in the country.  Over the past six years, I’ve seen the results of underfunding our schools again and again: my daughter having a 4th grade class with 31 students; unsafe school walking routes of more than a mile through the woods; storage rooms turned into classrooms; 53 students in one elementary school art class; lessons being given in hallways due to a lack of space.  We can, and must, do better than this.

My biggest priority is to make sure we are doing an effective job at keeping up with the tremendous growth that Loudoun County has had, to eliminate overcrowding in our schools, and to lower class sizes.  The new schools that are opening are opening full, because they’re the schools we needed five years ago.  Some communities in Blue Ridge have had to switch schools four times in the past five years because of the constant redistricting every time we open a new school and shuffle kids around.  I intend to make sure that we’re getting ahead of the growth curve, and that no children and teachers are suffering in overcrowded classrooms while waiting for schools to be built.  Educational research done over the last 30 years tells us that reducing class sizes, particularly at the elementary levels, has a variety of long-term educational benefits such as increased student performance, lower disciplinary and suspension rates, higher parent engagement, and lower teacher attrition.  Some of our most crowded elementary school classrooms have nearly double the recommended of students for the age level.  That is unacceptable.

My next priority is to make sure we’re paying all LCPS employees a living wage.  I’ve met with around 20 Blue Ridge school principals since I launched my campaign, and most of them tell a similar tale – they live here in Loudoun, but too many of the teachers and staff that work for them live in Clarke County, or Winchester, or West Virginia because they can’t afford to live here in Loudoun.  If we want truly great schools, then we need to attract and retain truly great teachers by making LCPS the best place to work in the region. 

Making significant headway on these issues will require close coordination and cooperation with the Board of Supervisors, from which LCPS receives most of its funding.  I have a track record of effective public service, of listening to community concerns, and of finding common ground to make positive changes on issues I care about, as I did last year when I worked to get a new state law passed on recess and doubled the amount of recess time our kids get in elementary school here in Loudoun.  I will continue to work constructively for change on the School Board.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

Many of my priorities are long-term initiatives (my full platform is available at http://ianserotkin.org), and I’m under no illusions that they can all be accomplished in one budget cycle – especially when the new school board is being seated just days before the Superintendent presents his proposed budget.  Much will also depend on the composition of the new school board as well as the new Board of Supervisors. 

That being said, I plan to pursue improvements in line with my top priorities – lowering class sizes, making our staff salaries more competitive, and improving bus service.  

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I’m running for School Board because I truly believe that we can make LCPS into the best public school system in the country. Over the past six years, I’ve seen the results of underfunding our schools again and again: my daughter having a 4th grade class with 31 students; unsafe school walking routes of more than a mile through the woods; storage rooms turned into classrooms; 53 students in one elementary school art class; lessons being given in hallways due to a lack of space. We can, and must, do better than this.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I hope to make steady progress towards making LCPS the best public school district in the country, to make the school board and administration more data-driven and scientific in their decision-making processes, and to regain the trust of the community at large. My biggest priorities include fully funding the schools every year, reducing overcrowding, lowering class sizes, and paying our employees a living wage so they can afford to live in Loudoun County. I also want to increase STEAM opportunities at all schools, kick-start social and emotional learning (SEL) programs, and improve our gifted education and special education services.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

I’ve already mentioned overcrowding, class size, and staff salaries as top issues. Another top issue facing LCPS system-wide is communication. There’s a real perception—justifiably—that the school board doesn’t communicate effectively with the community. The school district has struggled greatly to release needed information in a timely fashion when incidents have occurred in our schools, from sexual assault in locker rooms to individuals carrying firearms into the school buildings—to the point where the school board has lost the trust of the community. To get that trust back, it must be a major focus of the new board.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

Overcrowding is a major issue in the eastern half of Blue Ridge (Brambleton, Willowsford, Aldie areas) and one of my main priorities. I’m also fully committed to protecting our small schools in the west from the constant threat of closure. I first became involved in organizing my community to fight to keep western Loudoun schools open back in 2014, when the school board was considering closing four community schools due to the $38-million underfunding of our schools that year. To close these schools would be to ignore their vital role as the beating hearts of their communities.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Our kids need someone who will fight for them. I have advocated for changes in our schools, and I’ve won—both in getting laws passed in Richmond and school policies changed here in Loudoun. As a result of my efforts as a leader of the More Recess for Virginians advocacy group, Virginia passed a new state law last year that allows local school districts more flexibility in providing recess. Then, I worked with the Loudoun school board to pass a new recess policy in June 2018 that more than doubled the amount of recess time students receive in elementary school.

Ram Venkatachalam

Age: 38

Occupation: Business Management Consultant

Residence: Brambleton

Website: ram4blueridge.com

 

Why are you running and what your priorities for your term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

I am running for the School Board to help make Loudoun County Public Schools the best and safest in America by keeping LCPS focused on its core educational mission, taking more proactive steps to address our challenges, and ensuring better communication with parents and students. All of this will require more cohesive leadership from the School Board than we see today.

This election is about who is best prepared to represent the interests of the county’s students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.  I am that candidate in Blue Ridge and ready to go to work.

It starts with improving school safety. I support the additional hardening of schools and training of security staff, as well as putting a School Resource Office (SRO) in all our public schools in cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office. My opponent does not support the SRO program nor proposals for strengthening it.

We must do more to keep our children safe on school buses too, and I support adding cameras on all buses to apprehend drivers who don’t stop when children are getting on and off.  It happens too often without consequences.

Safety also includes the emotional health of our children while at school, and issues of bullying and social stigma. I will support the expansion of programs in our schools that build self-esteem and resiliency through peer-to-peer and peer-to-adult support and networks. 

I am also committed to offering our children a world-class, well-rounded education in Loudoun’s schools, and to respecting that one size does not fit all.  Some students flourish in large, diverse schools, and others in small, rural schools, charter schools or in a home school environment. LCPS and the School Board should respect all these choices and I certainly will.

I will be a champion for the preservation of our small, rural schools in western Loudoun, as well as for better planning to minimize overcrowding and boundary changes in the east.

I will also put a high priority on attracting and retaining the best teachers and support staff. Loudoun should not be playing catch up with the rest of the region; we should be the magnet where outstanding teachers and others want to work and stay.

Finally, our schools should be a safe place for learning. All students should be treated equally and fairly, and our public schools – whether on issues of bathrooms, library books and anything else – should not be turned into battlegrounds.  The School Board and LCPS administration should stay focused on their primary mission of educating our children and giving them an enriching life experience that prepares them for being adults.

I am grateful to be endorsed by county Treasurer Roger Zurn, Sheriff Mike Chapman, Clerk of the Circuit Court Gary Clemens, Supervisors Matt Letourneau and Tony Buffington, School Board chairman Jeff Morse, and School Board member Jill Turgeon as her successor.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

My budget priorities go beyond the next fiscal year.

In 2012, the Loudoun County Government Reform Commission was directed by the Board of Supervisors – with support from the School Board — to make the consolidation of certain LCPS and general government services and programs a priority. They tried, but thanks to LCPS senior staff at that time, this effort was stonewalled and failed.

It is time to look again at how LCPS and general government can operate more efficiently, to deliver high quality services in a way that spends our taxes in the most cost-effective way possible and allows more school-related monies to be focused on students — not overhead.

Today, LCPS continues to grow its central administrative overhead and highly compensated staff at a far greater rate than student enrollment and teacher pay. That’s a misdirected priority that must be changed.

A review should therefore also include a fresh look at LCPS central management, administration and communications functions. Loudoun County School Board needs to be operating efficiently from its meetings to committee meetings, these need to be looked at as well.

Specific areas of LCPS spending also need more review. Among those I would like to see prioritized in the next budget and term are the following:

  • School safety, both the further hardening of our schools as well as the staffing and training of security personnel, including SROs (funded by the Sheriff’s Office);
  • Mental health and student empowerment and resiliency programs in all schools;
  • Arts and civics classes, to promote more well-rounded and better-informed graduates; and
  • Funding for Loudoun’s full participation at Thomas Jefferson HS, and a commitment to making the Academies of Loudoun a regional powerhouse.
  • Teacher salaries and benefits, to attract and retain the best educators in the region

I humbly ask for your vote on November 5th if you live in the Blue Ridge District.

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I am running to help make LCPS the best public-school system in America by ensuring that the School Board has a well-informed, focused and long-term commitment to the education of our children in a safe, nurturing environment; that we attract and retain the best teachers and other personnel; and that there is more effective guidance and oversight of LCPS administration, budget and planning.I also have a personal stake in the success of LCPS as I am married with two young children, the oldest of whom attends elementary school.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

My key priorities include the following:

  • Keep LCPS focused on its core mission: the education of our children.
  • Minimize school boundary changes and overcapacity, and keep class sizes down.
  • Ensure that educators are fairly compensated to attract and retain the best.
  • Ensure that safety measures are put in place to better protect our children and schools, and that mental health issues are more effectively and compassionately addressed.
  • Require more proactive and informed communication from LCPS administration to parents, students, teachers and the School Board.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

LCPS is a large bureaucracy that requires effective oversight of its day-to-day performance, communication with stakeholders, and long-term planning. The next School Board needs to do this more effectively and be focused on core curricula, enrichment programs, and the safety and best interests of our students, teachers and schools. 

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

Enhancing the safety of every school in Blue Ridge District is a high priority. That includes hardening access to every school and putting a School Resource Officer in every elementary school as well and middle and high schools.New school openings and boundary changes is another priority, along with fiscally responsible capital improvements. Blue Ridge has more than doubled in population since the last census, so capital needs will be an ongoing priority.Being respectful for differing approaches to education is another priority, along with the safe transportation, which is a greater challenge in Blue Ridge due to many long bus routes and weather-related road concerns.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

I have a proven record of listening to all stakeholders, working hard and always doing what’s best for our communities. As a resident elected VP and director of the Brambleton HOA, I served as a community leader in one of Loudoun’s largest and fastest growing population centers. I’ve served on other local bodies with a consistent approach to public service—i.e., listening, learning, seeking consensus to effectuate positive change, then working diligently to get the job done. I’ve also spent more than one year preparing for this race by learning more about the critical issues, challenges and opportunities facing Loudoun and by regularly meeting with all stakeholders.


Broad Run District

Andrew Hoyler

Age: 23

Occupation: Pilot

Residence: Broadlands

Campaign website: votehoyler.com

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those? 

Last summer, when I moved back to Virginia after college, I began to reflect on my time as a student in LCPS, and realized how difficult certain times were. Being that I still have three siblings who are students in Loudoun, I felt that I had a calling to try to make a difference for those still in our schools. I knew that my first hand knowledge of the negative experiences that our students go through would be incredibly beneficial to have on the board, as I still have vivid memories of the highs and the lows of our schools. 

One of the main reasons why I decided to run was related to my previous struggles with bullying and mental health. While the county increased the number of counselors and support staff that are in the schools, I know that this does not solve the larger issue, and one that I ran into myself: our students are afraid and scared of speaking up about their weaknesses. Until we can break the stigma about opening up about our own struggles, it will continue to be incredibly hard for our students to open up about their battles. I believe the adults have to take the first step—instead of waiting for students to come to us saying that they need help and support, we need to be more proactive, and that goes beyond simply hiring more counselors. We also need to teach our kids how to cope with bullying, instead of simply focusing on the fact that bullying is bad. Bullying has been around for decades, and will unfortunately continue to be around. Until our kids learn how to fight through the adversity, they will continue to suffer. We also need to ensure our schools are following policy when it comes to recording and documenting bullying, instead of brushing a victim aside saying “the person you are accusing comes from a great family, and would never do these things”. 

I’d also love to rework our curriculum. We need to continue to focus on our vocational programs and ensure that our rigorous classes stay at a level that benefits our kids and their futures, while reminding our students that a well balanced education should be the goal- not a 4.5 GPA. 

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

I would love to increase community input and interaction in this upcoming budget, as well as the remaining budgets of my term. By ensuring the community has a voice, we can slowly patch the distrust our community has with our board and school administration. 

I do hope to include stipends for our elementary teachers to increase equity between schools and areas. While some schools have great community involvement with their PTO/PTAs, other schools have a PTA/PTO that is not very strong or involved. At many schools, the PTO/PTA allows teachers to join, and then reimburses them for supplies, while other teachers are forced to pay out of pocket for similar supplies. Other schools limit the number of copies teachers may make. Our higher level grades and departments have department budgets, allowing greater flexibility with requesting and ordering supplies, but at the elementary level, many teachers are on their own. 

I also hope to work to lower and eliminate certain fees our students and families are having to pay, such as the fee to park (our schools only receive $25 of the $200 fee) and extracurricular fees, which can cost over $1,000 a year for families with multiple kids. 

Ensuring our vocational programs are funded, without threats of cutting them (which seems to be a common theme each January) will also be a priority. We must realize as a county that not every student has a desire or ability to take the highest level STEM courses, and it is essential to keep multiple paths open for our students. 

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I am running because I have the experience to initiate meaningful change that will benefit the students, teachers, and administrators of LCPS, as well as taxpayers who rely on Board members to lead in a fiscally responsible manner. As an adult, I often reflect on my twelve years in LCPS and realize that while LCPS is great in certain aspects, there are many areas where we need to improve. On a personal level, I dealt with bullying and abuse as a student. It would be selfish of me to not contribute to the betterment of LCPS for current and future students.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

It would be irresponsible for me to promise specific accomplishments because I realize this isn’t just about what I want to do today. While the priorities and needs of the LCPS are constantly changing, I do have some core initiatives that I am passionate about:

  • Working with staff to tackle the bullying epidemic.
  • Implementing a program for smarter spending for classroom/school resources. This includes avoiding unnecessary expenses that burden taxpayers while also recognizing that sometimes you spend less long term if you invest more up front.
  • Expanding the scope of the academic offerings for students.
  • Improving communication/transparency within our community.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

The Academies of Loudoun will continue to be an area of focus, ranging from the admissions process to how best to balance resources between enhancing AOL and continuing to fund support for similar options. The new board should focus on how to expand the in-county offerings at AOL and make them available for a wider variety of students while not removing choices for our community members who wish to explore other options. School safety will always be a priority, and I expect that we will act quickly to further protect our schools and communities from avoidable incidents.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

The Broad Run District will likely experience significant changes with the 2020 census- the types of changes that typically result in angst and frustration for many. The District is still growing, and with this growth, we will see many school and school boundary changes (Eagle Ridge is getting many new classrooms added!). Change is inevitable and timely communication about these changes helps to set expectations. With these changes and growth, our district needs someone who will prioritize constant communication and will provide timely updates. I am already demonstrating my commitment to ongoing and unfiltered communication on my campaign Facebook page.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Thanks to my 12 years in LCPS, I have first-hand experience of what our students go through but are too afraid to address with the adults in their lives. As such, I am comfortable addressing uncomfortable issues on behalf of our students and staff. As a recent graduate, I am aware of the areas where LCPS can improve in order to better prepare its graduates for life. Finally, as a pilot, I understand how to navigate competing priorities, overcome adversity, and to value the needs of the many who put their trust in me on a day to day basis.

Leslee King

Age: Not Given

Occupation: Retired. Former middle school teacher and former systems integrator with software architect and process/procedures certifications

Residence: Potomac Green

Campaign website: lesleeking.com

Why are you running and what are your priorities for your first term?

I was scheduled to be at the Pentagon at 9:00am on September 11, 2001. The Army technical group I was going to help lost 7 people in the plane crash.   Why I wasn’t one of them is a true blessing.  

As a native Virginian living more than half of my life in the DC area, I must step up and become involved.  My three children are graduates of Fairfax County schools and I understand from a single parent view with a teaching background the complexity of local education.

You cannot buy experience.  It comes with many years of going through different trials and tribulations while making things better.  I was the person my company sent to solve seemingly unsolvable problems, to ensure confidence was renewed in the company and to make projects, policies and procedures better.  I have always looked for the win-win solutions.

My priorities are the following:

  1. Seek out the LCPS successes and expand upon them for continuous improvement
  2. Strive for equity so all students are able to work up to and beyond their capabilities
  3. Improve communications within the Loudoun community
  4. Work to provide a safer environment for learning

How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

  1. I will have a section for teachers on the LCPS website.  I have a success story from when I taught that I will document and post as a beginning.  Since I am now retired, I have time to visit the schools, find out what teachers are doing that are successful, document and get this out to other teachers.
  2. It is good that the school board finally passed an Equity Statement banning biased remarks.  This needs follow-up with procedures outlining consequences when a racist remark or bullying happens.  In addition, I will work with SEAC (Special Education Advisory Committee) and MSAAC (Minority Student Achievement Advisory Committee) groups and others for insight into helping Loudoun children.  I believe every child is gifted in something and those gifts need to be nourished at every school.  In addition, I will propose that Equity and Diversity are elevated to Action Items and the Ad Hoc Committee on Equity become permanent (defeated by current board).
  3. With my background in systems integration and monitoring software, I will interface with the LCPS IT department and review their current software and update procedures.  In addition, I will look into the procedures for notifying the community about school events.  For example, notification about the cancellation of soccer practice was sent the evening of Back to School Night, after parents brought their children to practice and were told to leave by loudspeaker.  Maybe the coaches were not notified early enough to get the word out to the parents.  Also, I will answer all e-mails in a timely manner except for nasty ones!
  4. LCPS had an assessment on school safety completed.  I will review this assessment (which is not available publicly) and look at what would be the best next steps to improve security of our schools.  The current school board voted down the resolution to increase the number of counselors.  Current ratio is one counselor for 300 students in elementary schools and one for 315 students in middle and high schools.  More counselors are needed and they must have background with mental and drug counseling.  

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

The current budget is almost 400 pages and is very complicated.  All stakeholder concerns must be heard.  Below are a few things that I believe the school board needs to review and enact.  

  • Funding for transportation of Loudoun students to Thomas Jefferson High School should be funded.
  • Charging $150/student/sport seems excessive, especially when Fairfax and Prince William Counties charge $75.  To encourage activity for health, these should be reduced.  
  • I would look at bringing in an expert to do an energy assessment of the schools and the administration building to implement climate friendly savings.

 Why are you running for election to the School Board?

 I was scheduled to be at the Pentagon at 9 am on September 11, 2001. The Army technical group I was scheduled to help lost seven people that day. Why I wasn’t one of them is a true blessing and one of the reasons I want to give back.We live with many challenges and we need experienced leaders to work through these difficult times. Our children are our future and they need to be protected and encouraged. I am running because I believe that my experience as a teacher and a leader in technology is needed on this School Board.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

To accomplish the following:

  • Discover and expand upon current LCPS successes for continuous improvement.
  • Increase equity so all students are able to work up to and beyond their capabilities.
  • Improve communications within the Loudoun community. This is a common complaint I hear and in my own research, I found that it was not very easy to gather information.
  • Some of the websites have not been updated in months.
  • Provide a safer environment for learning. Follow up on the current Threat Assessment Program. Check out if improvements are being implemented and prioritize what still needs to be done.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

The new board must focus on the needs of LCPS students, teachers, administrative staff and parents.Top issues facing LCPS are the following:

  • Keeping and hiring good teachers and staff.
  • Striving to keep classrooms a manageable size while dealing with population surges.
  • Updating schools to make them safer.
  • Providing mental health counseling and encourage kindness.
  • Establishing open and easy communications.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

  • Lead the county in successful programs by discovering current LCPS successes and expand them in Broad Run schools.
  • Increase equity so all students are able to work up to and beyond their capabilities
  • Improve communications within the Broad Run community. Use technology efficiently and effectively within my district.
  • Provide a safer environment for learning. As a follow up, check out each school in my district to assess their current status and set priorities.

I will focus on the schools in my district by visiting them often, attending staff meetings, PTA meetings and school events.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Vote for experience. I was a grade school teacher and a Systems Integration Engineer. I created and taught technology classes, and mentored many techs sharing my in-depth knowledge of integrating and troubleshooting large network systems.I am a single parent of three children who graduated from Fairfax County Schools. My knowledge of budgeting and finance began with my Economics minor. I have years of experience performing assessments with successful results and I will use this experience to navigate the many areas which involve LCPS. I will bring common sense to the school board.


Catoctin District

Jenna Alexander

Age: Not Given

Occupation:  Vice President of Advocacy for Virginia PTA, Former Investments & Capital Markets Product Management

Residence: Hamilton

Campaign website: jennaforcatoctin.org

Why are you running and what are your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

Representing our families, staff and communities on the School Board is a direct continuation of the work I have been doing for years as a leader of the PTA both here in  Loudoun and in Virginia. As the Vice President of Advocacy for the Virginia PTA, I prepare the non-partisan legislative agenda for the state and advocate on behalf of every parent, student, and teacher across Virginia. As Director of the Hunt District PTA I have worked with parents, teachers, principals, administrators and legislators across Loudoun on a wide range of issues. This experience has provided me with insight into the concerns of parents across Loudoun and given me a state level perspective of where Loudoun excels and where we need to improve. My professional background in finance and product development, work in the PTA, knowledge of education policies and years of leading the effort to protect our small schools enables me to be a fierce and successful advocate for Catoctin on day one.

         My two immediate priorities are to address safety and communication. As longer term priorities, I would like to expand the current STEM technology focus to integrate the arts, bring back world languages in elementary school, better integrate agriculture education to reflect our booming agritourism industry, ensure our oldest school buildings are renovated and set strategic goals for closing the achievement gaps.

         To address the safety and communication concerns, an Ad-Hoc Committee on School Safety should be formed so that everything from bus transportation and walk zones, to secure visitor management, staffing SROs and SSOs, construction of security vestibules, building renovations, reducing overcrowding, vaping, online safety and mental health can be prioritized and addressed in a cohesive and strategic way.  Additionally, I think it’s critical that the School Board take ownership for directly communicating its work through a regular newsletter or email and find more occasions to host community roundtables.

         One of the first things the new school board will do is work on the operating budget which is an opportune time to re-prioritize academic initiatives and building renovations.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

         I think it’s critical that we set a multi-year operational budget forecast that can be shared with the community and the Board of Supervisors in order to support long range planning and a steady tax rate.  The multi-year plan should reflect expected enrollment, changes to the academic offering, plans for new textbooks and technology as well as staffing and compensation changes. 

         Last year the School Board rejected a $100,000 proposal that would have established an elementary performing arts design school. In this January’s budget, I would like to see a performing arts and an agriculture elementary design school included in the budget and initiate research on staffing requirements to bring back world languages in elementary schools across Loudoun. 

         I would also like to re-prioritize renovations of our oldest buildings ahead of the buildings built in the 1980s, which are cited as medium priority for systems replacements, and defer renovations at the Administration building until the more urgent school building renovations are complete.  

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

         I am running because Catoctin families need a knowledgeable, unwavering advocate on the School Board who has their collective best interests at heart. As Virginia PTA’s Vice President of Advocacy and former Hunt District PTA Director, I’ve supported PTAs at 52 Loudoun schools and worked with elected officials at all levels to create better opportunities for our students, with focus on mental health, small school staffing, renovating aging schools, school safety, supporting teachers and advancing equity and diversity. I understand the unique needs Loudoun’s schools and am dedicated to the success of every student and ensuring parents have a voice. 

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

         In addition to addressing the unique challenges facing the Catoctin district and the larger division-wide problems of safety, transparent communication, diversity and support for English language, gifted and special education students, I think we need to shift from STEM/coding to being STEAM focused by improving opportunities to engage in the arts and offering world languages beginning in elementary school. I would also like to better support Loudoun’s rural economy by incorporating agriculture education themes, expanding career technical education and collaborating with the County to increase the amount of local foods served in our school cafeterias, Loudoun’s largest restaurant.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

 Nothing is more important than the safety of our students and staff! LCPS needs to expedite the construction of security vestibules and renovation of aging school buildings, re-evaluate bus transportation routes and continue to invest in mental health programs, reducing overcrowding and prioritizing small classes sizes. We also need to stay focused on closing the opportunity gap, hiring a diverse workforce and providing teachers with mentoring, professional development and nationally competitive salaries. It’s critical that the School Board stretch beyond its current communication style to connect with parents and staff, hear their concerns and partner with them in policy development.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

I want us to move beyond threatening school communities with closure every few months and instead put that energy into identifying systemic operational cost savings. Building facilities are not neutral, we need to renovate the oldest and most deteriorated schools now instead of waiting until 2030, as currently planned. Bus transportation routes and driver compensation need to be revamped so students have shorter commutes without long walks down gravel roads. Families across the Catoctin District have also expressed strong support for bringing more local foods into the school cafeterias and increasing career technical education opportunities.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

I have been a tireless advocate for our students and schools, first serving as Hamilton PTA President through multiple closure threats and more recently, as Director of the Hunt District PTA, which I’ve transformed into a respected voice of the parent/volunteer community. I will bring that same passion, collaborative work style, attention to detail and drive for innovation to the School Board. I will ensure you are educated on the issues, that LCPS meets the needs of every learner, that policies are respectful of the beliefs of every family and our tax dollars are used in a fiscally responsible manner.

John Beatty 

Age: 30
Occupation: IT Director, Computer Science Teacher, and Rails Programmer at The Heights School
Residence: Lovettsville

Campaign website: jb4va.com

 

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

I’m running because as a LCPS parent, I’m concerned about some of the decisions the school board has made and how they have negatively impacted our students. The first concern I had was the distribution of computers into our classrooms with ineffective filtering. I run the IT department in a school so I know both the benefits and shortcomings of these devices very well. It is imperative that we be more proactive in securing and locking down these devices in order to protect our children from being exposed to inappropriate materials online. As a computer science teacher, I know that technology plays an important role in some classes. However, as with all things, it needs to be utilized prudently in order to be beneficial to the classroom environment instead of a hindrance. I would make sure we have better content filtering policies in place (for example, whitelisting sites) which will give our teachers more control in their classrooms. I also think the school system is hurting our children with inappropriate sexual material being distributed under the guise of diversity. My daughter was adopted from South Korea, so I understand how important it is to have books in the classroom that reflect each unique individual and their story. The diverse books initiative should be a place to promote understanding about the cultures of all the students who make up LCPS schools, however that is not the current reality. There are certain educational areas parents have the right to be the guide. LCPS is subverting these rights with inappropriate and explicit sexual content starting at the elementary level that goes outside of what even the FLE curriculum states. If elected, I would call for a thorough review of all literature that has been added into our schools under this new initiative and remove those books which undermine parental authority.

         I’m running to bring a unique and necessary perspective to the school board as a parent, teacher, and school administrator. I’m going to support and strengthen parents’ rights to choose how their children are educated. The best way to show this support is by providing ample  educational resources and opportunities for the children of Loudoun County through vocational programs, support of the arts and a well-rounded liberal arts curriculum. I also want to bring more transparency into the policy-making of the school board through open communication with the community at large about agenda items and implementation of new policies. Finally, I want to ensure that the tax dollars we all pay into the school system are used effectively by doing a thorough combing of the budget. We should be providing our teachers with competitive compensation instead of  paying for unnecessary administrative overhead that is quickly taking up a greater percentage of the budget.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

My priorities are balancing the need to provide a great education for our children while ensuring that each dollar we all pay into the school system is not being wasted. It’s important that we provide competitive compensation for our teachers and equip their classrooms with all the necessary supplies. In order to keep budget growth in line with student growth, however,  we need to control costs at the administrative level. We will need to work with the legislature in Richmond to fund the state level mandates that the county is otherwise responsible for funding.  

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I’m running to provide a unique perspective to the board’s governance, as a LCPS parent, a computer science teacher, and a school IT Director. I have a deep desire to see that the best schools are available for all the children of Loudoun County, and I will make sure that they are given as many as opportunities as we can give them. By emphasizing creative thinking and problem solving, I aim to provide the students of Loudoun County with the skills they will need for the future.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I want to provide the oversight that the board is expected to provide. I want to make sure the policies in place are followed, and to understand how they can be improved otherwise. I want to expand the options parents have for educating their children. I want to work to keep budget growth in line with student enrollment, and I want to explore better ways for teachers to match their classrooms with their student’s learning styles. 

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

I’d like to make sure the curriculum is actually preparing our children for our ever-changing, modern world. Throughout my career, I’ve realized that fundamentals subjects and soft skills tend to be the most important areas of study. I will make sure music and arts programs are not crowded out, and that our children graduate with a well-rounded education. 

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

I live in the rural part of Catoctin, and I will work to support our rural small schools; treasures loved by students, parents, and teachers. I will work to provide the necessary repairs and in place upgrades they need in order to mitigate buying bonds for distant buildings. I also want to improve the bus transportation system. My goal is to maintain a balance between efficiency, safety and quality of life for families.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Great leaders come from the front lines, making tough decisions, and facing the results of those decisions. I believe I’ve been on the fore front of all aspects important to education, as a parent, a teacher, and an administrator. My experience and educational background make me uniquely qualified to make sure technology is put in its proper place in education and society at large. I’ll provide leadership on the board to make sure that our children will finish school with the grounding and guidance needed to navigate a complex, modern world.

Zerell Johnson-Welch

Age: Not Given
Occupation: Attorney, USAG Gymnastic Coach

Residence: Leesburg

Campaign Website: zerellforcatoctin.com

 

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

 

I believe an investment in our children, in our teachers and in our schools is an investment in our future that ultimately strengthens family values, builds strong communities and a proud country. I am running because I believe every identifiable group of learners – all students deserve a classroom experience where they feel SAFE, WELCOMED, and INSPIRED to dream big! This includes children with special needs, ELL gifted and talented, rural learners, unrepresented learners in STEM, the economically vulnerable and children in need of social emotional support. I have raised three very different type of learners, two with special needs. My children have successfully matriculated through LCPS and are recent UVA and Vtech graduates in engineering and computer science; and a third with a degree from William and Mary currently attending UVA medical school. It’s important to me to give back to a system that has supported my children. And that we understand that the success of each child requires opportunities for meaningful teacher-student relationships and the support of an engaged parent.

What are your priorities for your first term?

My first term priorities will include prioritizing school safety, with an emphasis on school policies that support the social- emotional wellness of our students; ensure our budgets address the unique needs of our learners; compensate educators and support staff appropriately and promote a philosophy that encourages parental engagement.

How do you plan to accomplish those priorities?

Many parents have expressed their concern about the safety of their children while attending school. The Board should focus on a comprehensive and proactive approach that includes the collaboration of law enforcement, parent engagement, outreach to our children and equipping all staff with the soft skills necessary to identify troubled students and seek help.

I intend to expand the discussion of safety to include a more holistic preventive approach that will require each school’s leadership to examine their own school’s climate. A positive school climate supports people feeling socially, emotionally and physically safe. The social emotional wellness of our children is key- so I intend to review the details of the current social emotional curriculum that is being tested at 13 pilot schools, and immediately advocate for its expansion to all schools. Unfortunately, the Division is in a reactive mode as it relates to our student’s mental health. Many of our students are experiencing a health crisis. “The CDC for Control and Prevention reports 1 and 5 children ages 3- 17 (about 15 million) have a diagnosable mental, emotional and behavioral disorder in a given year. However, only twenty percent are diagnosed and receive treatment, and the 80 percent aren’t receiving treatment.

I believe in collective teacher efficacy – ensuring that our teachers feel valued, confident and are provided the necessary resources, compensation and professional development so that they can focus on building meaningful relationships with their students. The success of each child requires a meaningful teacher-student relationship, and the support of an engaged parent. Children learn from teachers they love.

I will review compensation and training requirements so that each teacher is empowered to do what they were trained to do – teach. I have spoken with many teachers. Many feel inundated with so much paper work, that actual teaching seems to be overshadowed with other administrative initiatives. I will always review pay scales for our unified mental health team members, ensuring those salaries are competitive and the ratio of professional staff to student is more than manageable.

LCPS’ outreach needs to be intentional. I want to promote a school board philosophy that values parental collaboration as a pathway to success and places relationship quality at the center of education. Research supports that one of the most important factors affecting a child’s performance in school is how involved their parents are in their education. According to the National Coalition of Parent Involvement, regardless of income or background students with involved parents are more likely to have higher grades and test scores, attend school regularly, have better social skills and behavior, and adapt well to school.

Feedback should not be limited to monthly public comments at school board meetings. I plan to hold town halls in my Catoctin community and prepare regular newsletters to promote engagement.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

I plan to review the budget with an eye toward shifting monies, prioritizing needs and eliminating waste. I will advocate for a budget that promotes the distribution of equitable resources and ensures all learning communities have the requisite tools to address their needs. This includes the reinvestment and modernization of all schools, especially those in western Loudoun. I will support the funding of the arts, music and the introductory foreign languages in our elementary schools. I want to ensure the budget reflects expenditures related to enrollment growth, maintaining small class sizes and services for students while opening new schools to accommodate rising enrollments when appropriate.

 Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I feel all students deserve a classroom experience where they feel safe, welcomed, and inspired to dream big! This especially includes children with special needs, ELL, gifted and talented, rural learners, underrepresented learners in STEM, the economically vulnerable and children in need of social-emotional support.As a 12-year resident of Catoctin and an attorney by training, I have found my passion advocating for students in LCPS. My children, LCPS graduates, recently completed their undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech, UVA and William and Mary. Serving as an elected school board member is my opportunity to give back and assist other students and families.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I intend to prioritize school safety. This means a more comprehensive and preventive stance towards safety issues, with an emphasis on listening to the community’s concerns. Outreach in this area is critical as well as implementing best practices that support our student’s social and emotional wellness.I will support fully funded school budgets that promote the distribution of equitable resources and ensure all learning communities have the requisite tools to address their needs. I hope to build collective teacher efficacy, whereby our teachers feel valued, and are compensated appropriately so that they can focus on how to build meaningful ‘teacher-student’ relationships.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

Safety. Many parents have expressed their concerns about the safety of their students while attending school. The board should focus on a comprehensive and proactive approach that includes the collaboration with law enforcement, parent engagement, outreach to our children, and equipping all staff and students with the soft skills necessary to identify troubled students and seek help.Loudoun County’s exponential growth has burdened the educational system. Classrooms are crowded. Some teachers do not have assigned classrooms. LCPS struggles recruiting and retaining teachers especially teachers trained to address the specific needs of our most vulnerable students.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

I will be seeking to ensure that our district utilizes every resource available, thwarting potential threats in our schools, and cultivating a school community that understand the need to connect and support social and emotional wellness.I plan to approve a budget that addresses the equitable needs of the various student populations. I will ensure our annual funding plan supports the reinvestment and modernization of all schools, especially those in my Catoctin District.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

I came from a family where education was not optional, hard work was expected and community service was practiced. I am a parent first. I understand the value of parental collaboration and engagement. And more importantly understand the potential of each can exceed expectations when they feel valued, safe and welcomed in their classroom. I bring a commitment of outreach and engagement, and traditional hard work. I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve my community in this capacity, advocating for your child’s success.


Dulles District

Jeff Morse*

Age: 55

Occupation: Technical and Managerial Consultant 

Residence: South Riding

Campaign website: electjeffmorse.com

 

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? 

I am running to continue my service as a public servant, and to focus on  improving the effectiveness and efficiency of public education in Loudoun for al students.  

How do you concretely plan to accomplish those? 

I plan on focusing on three factors: 1) Allocate resources to the classroom.  Still the most direct link to student success, top teachers need to be enticed to come to Loudoun and those that excel must be retained.  2) Provide professional development, training resources, and tools.  We can’t expect teachers to master PBL, PL, or classroom technology if they are not adequately trained. Students must have access to social/emotional support and adaptive technology necessary to maximize their learning in a least restrictive environment. 3) Remove the obstacles that detract from education by enhancing security, addressing mental health concerns,  and creating an educational environment free from bullying/harassment. 

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?  First priority is to support competitive compensation packages to retain world class educators/staff.  Secondly, require evidence-based resourcing for new initiatives with cost, schedule, and performance expectations clearly laid out and performance metrics defined. Finally, review current initiatives to see if they continue to be effective, or if the resources need to be redirected to other areas of need.   

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I’m running again because I believe we are having a positive impact on our school division. With a new School Board and many new initiatives underway, I believe some board experience and continuity are essential. I look forward to working collaboratively on the hard challenges that face the board and expect the new board will have a strong impact on the strategic goals for LCPS. I have spent a lifetime in public service, and seek to continue serving as the Dulles District representative to build on the successes of the current board with the vision of a new board.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

There are several areas in which LPCS is experiencing challenges; I hope to focus our efforts on solving them. The last few years have seen significant changes in our security and mental health needs. Other longer-term challenges include special education and equity. Additionally, I look for the board to continue to create more transparency, competitive salaries, a clear commitment to staff training, a focus on restoring confidence in our engagements with SPED families, a mitigation of overcrowding, and metrics-based assessment of new programs.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

  • Student Learning: addressing shortcomings and inconsistencies in SPED and ELL services; perfecting personalized learning across the division; removing distractions so that educators can teach to all students at a pace best suited for their optimal learning. 
  • Workforce sustainment: continuing to recruit, hire, and retain the best employees in a tightening job market;
  • Security: both physical infrastructure and procedural improvements to improve confidence in the safety of our students and staff;
  • Communications and Transparency: providing clear, timely, accurate, and trusted communications to the community; getting ahead of social media rumors, misstatements, and blatantly false information.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

My district suffers from fluctuating school boundaries, and overcrowded classes due to high growth and slow construction. My goal is to ensure Dulles District students and teachers find relief from overcrowded classes and schools, and return to class sizes commensurate with the rest of the county.

What are your top accomplishments during your current term, and why does your experience matter?

I am most proud of the quality workforce that LCPS enjoys. Sustaining a superior workforce while experiencing rapid growth is a formidable challenge. Next, the Academies of Loudoun has already begun to rapidly expand opportunities for gifted education and continuing technical education. And finally, being selected chairman by my peers for the last three years has been a great honor, albeit with some “cat herding” moments… From the dais, I saw nine very different perspectives with a strong sense of commitment to our mission: enabling all students to make meaningful contributions to the world.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Education in Loudoun is improving. Superintendent Williams and his staff (including the new Director of Special Education, the Equity Director, and the Communications Director) are believers in continuous improvement, with which I am completely supportive. I prefer to make decisions based on accurate and complete data (when possible). I will apply policy changes and resources to solve real issues. My commitment is not to a segment of our student or teacher populations, but to the entire LPCS community. I hope to continue that commitment with new board members as we forge a new leadership for public education.


Leesburg District

Beth Barts

Age: 48

Occupation: Former educator, volunteer, community advocate  

Residence: Greenway Farms

Campaign website: facebook.com/bartsforschoolboard

Why are you running and what are your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

After many years of advocating for local families as a parent and volunteer, it was time to seek the opportunity to serve as a voice for the Leesburg community in an official capacity.   

How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

Parity is important when it comes to the learning environment across all schools.   Students need to have common experiences when it comes to coursework, quality of instruction, enrichment opportunities and class size in order to be able to reach their full potential. With the challenge of opening new schools and staffing these buildings our older and existing schools take a back seat.  We need to make sure all our schools are equitable in terms of their infrastructure and their resources. Hearing about the lack of updated equipment in career and technical education, seeing requests to crowdfund for physical education equipment in older middle schools and seeing repeated leaks in our school buildings, all make a strong case for greater advocacy and a push to move older buildings (20 years plus) to the forefront of the refresh and renovation schedule.  While there will always be differences in practices in individual schools based on the needs of that building, we must have standard expectations and policies when it comes to school safety and security, communication and in critical areas such as grading, mental health support and special education services.  This is not only an equity issue but a practical issue as we are a somewhat fluid community with many families moving schools during their LCPS years.  LCPS has operated for many years on the assumption that the public only needs to know what they judge necessary.   Often waiting until all the facts were in before sharing critical information or saying they could not comment for legal reasons.   In this digital age we must get in front of the issues at hand. The school board, LCPS staff and the community needs to be informed in a timely manner as concerns and issues arise. I look forward to working with my elected colleagues to advocate for many of these policy issues thru joint town halls, work sessions and committee meetings, along with being easily accessible to constituents in an effort to be the voice for our community in a transparent manner.   

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

My priorities for the next budget are driven by the expectations of our community.  The Loudoun community wants safe,secure and updated facilities.   All stakeholders want the best teachers and staff in the country and this means making sure we compensate fairly in order to recruit and retain the best.  Our community wants our students to be able to learn in an environment that not only encourages research and collaboration for STEM but also focuses on the ARTS and Technical Education because more than ever we know how important a well rounded education is.  As a result our budget needs to be able to support program growth in all these areas.  

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

I have been involved with LCPS and the community for more than 20 years. I have worked for children in my roles as a PTA officer, classroom volunteer and as a Girl Scout Troop Leader. I coordinated a middle school grocery outreach, ran high school fundraisers and was a LEAP representative to name a few of my advocacy roles. I have spoken before the board over the years on suicide prevention, funding concerns, program retention and transparency. At some point you have to decide to join the bigger conversation and seek to have a seat at the table.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Beth Barts: I will be working towards:

  • Expanding Career and Technical education and STEM education at every high school.
  • Helping families save on higher education costs by expanding Duel Enrollment courses and keeping them free.
  • Supporting small schools.
  • Addressing the increasing anxiety and depression we are seeing in our students.
  • Continuing to improve the services we provide to special education students.
  • The standardization of policies and practices across all schools in the district. 
  • Exploring ways to expand on the connection between an Arts education and greater academic achievement as we prepare students to be lifelong learners.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

  • Better Communication as a school division. 
  • Ensuring school safety and security.
  • Recruiting and retaining highly qualified educators.
  • Making sure all students are making progress in their learning regardless of their starting point as we focus on equity in our schools.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

With new schools being opened each year including recently the Academies of Loudoun, I often feel that existing schools do not get the resources needed to provide an equitable learning environment. I feel there is a real potential for encouraging companies and businesses who are moving into Leesburg or right outside our town boundaries to work with the town schools to build partnerships to assist with this. I would like to develop a stronger relationship with the Leesburg Town Council as a first step towards this goal.    

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

I have invested significant time and energy into our community as a volunteer, an engaged parent and an education advocate on issues that impacted programs and resources in our local schools. I will bring that same to attention to detail and commitment when representing the Leesburg district on the School Board. This is a nonpartisan seat that needs representatives who can work together as a collective group to make sure LCPS is providing a quality education for all students and I hope to fill that role.

Joe Newcomer

Age: 57

Occupation: Project Manager

Residence: Potomac Station

Campaign website: newcomerforleesburg.com

 

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

 

 I am running for School Board because I am invested in the success of LCPS and I possess a skill set, and the ability to listen, that can be greatly beneficial in solving the problems our schools face. I originally started running to address the topics of Seclusion/Restraint, the expansion of programs for both Gifted and Special Education, increasing pay and keeping benefit costs low for employees, the recruitment and retention of qualified staff, and expanding DE opportunities. Since then, I have added the topics of school safety, the improvement of communications between LCPS to both staff and parents.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I think my greatest accomplishment will be returning the focus of the district to the success of all students collectively, but especially to special education, EL and minority students I want every child to have good options on their educational path, and for those options to convert into success I also believe that I will be able to allocate more money for equipment and supplies for the classrooms so teachers are able to succeed in their jobs—and I believe I can do this by reallocating resources that are not being used well now, not simply by expanding the budget.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

First, school security and safety measures need to be revised, as all students and teachers deserve to learn and work in a safe environment. Second, we need to address existing equity concerns and improve opportunities for all students. Third, let’s work towards or exceed the strategic Initiatives regarding pay, benefits, class sizes, and mental health. Fourth, enhance learning opportunities for all students, including but not limited to: Special Education, Gifted Education, General Education, and Trade Education. Where possible, we need to push all quality learning, not just STEM, into the lower grades to help each student find their strengths.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

  • Partnering with local businesses to help our disadvantaged families.
  • Updating our older schools in Leesburg from both an infrastructure and security perspective. 
  • Expanding Career and Technical Education and STEM Education at our high schools and pushing it down to the elementary and middle schools. 
  • Helping families save on college costs by expanding Dual Enrollment courses and keeping them free.
  • Supporting small schools for parents who have children who thrive in a smaller school environment or just need an alternative environment.
  • Addressing the increasing levels of anxiety and depression we are seeing in our students.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Because they are interested in doing what is right for the Leesburg district and entire school system. I look ahead and plan for the long term, and I’m a lifelong learner. I want to do what is right for the district, not what is most expedient. I am a pragmatist with real world experiences, but I also have vision for improving LCPS. I’ve built strong relationships with other school board candidates, current school board members, the Leesburg Town Council, and the Board of Supervisors: I know how to cooperate with and appreciate others. It’s how to get good work done.


Sterling District

Mike Neely

Age: Not Given

Occupation: Office of General Counsel, Ethics Law

Residence: Sterling

Campaign Website: Mike4office.com

 

Why are you running and what your priorities for your first term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

Safety

My first priority is to ensure that our children learn in a safe and secure environment – one that respects students’ rights and is not driven by a radical agenda for the fundraising accounts of incumbent politicians. With the endorsement of The Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman, I will work to expand the School Resource Officer (SRO) program in all schools. Every month, we see national reports about school shootings and, locally, arrests of LCPS employees. The SRO program will work to protect students from external and internal threats.  

Transparency and Accountability

After safety, transparency and accountability to parents and taxpayers is the next highest priority. While the school budget has shot up exponentially, it has outpaced the growth of student enrollment.  Much of that increase is going to schools outside of Sterling. Many students and parents feel that Sterling has been left behind. Instead of concentrating on excellence, we’re now having to fight unsuitable, sexually explicit content in our schools. I will work to make sure parents have a partner – not an adversary – in raising their children to be  successful in our schools. 

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

We will hit the ground running. The first step is to bring back representation to Sterling! As the population has expanded westward, we’ve seen Sterling schools become outdated and out of touch with the needs of their student population. Sad nicknames for our schools include “The Jail.” While the LCPS Administration officials enjoy modern amenities, Sterling’s facilities for our special needs students and minority students are in disrepair and outdated. We need to modernize them.

Diversity

Sterling is a wonderfully diverse American community.  We are all-American in every sense, and we deserve representation that respects and embodies that diversity.

Why are you running for election to the School Board?

As a community member, I care deeply for the quality of life of my Sterling area neighbors, which includes the condition of educational opportunities available to their children and my own. Schools are often the centerpiece of our neighborhoods, with the ability to attract growing families or discourage them from putting down roots.I would like to take on the challenges of ensuring schools across Sterling have consistent policies to address students’ academic success. Sterling is a diverse district, and we should have policies and programs in place that empower teachers and support student success.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

 I hope to be a voice for parents and affect communication improvements from LCPS administration to parents. I will be a staunch advocate for STEM, MATA, and other traditional and non-traditional career-oriented programs to ensure students from across the district are set up to succeed in the workforce. This includes competitive compensation packages to ensure LCPS is acquiring and retaining our incredible teachers in our schools. In addition, I would like to find ways to encourage interscholastic athletics participation in Sterling District high schools.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

  • Accountability and Transparency: these two things go hand-in-hand to build stakeholder trust in LCPS leadership. Parents should know that their values are respected and their input is encouraged. 
  • School Safety: In addition to secure buildings and trained first responders, LCPS needs policies/tools that effectively reinforce safe boundaries between staff and students.
  • Mental Health: Northern Virginia can be fast-paced, competitive, and stressful, particularly for our high school youth.
  • School Zone Boundaries: It’s challenging to accommodate diverse interests and needs in areas of continued residential development or other communities experiencing a rise in the number children.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

  • Maintain high academic standards for every school within an exceptional learning environment.
  • Provide a supportive and rewarding work environment for LCPS staff. 
  • Inform and empower parents so that their voices and choices are incorporated throughout policy creation and implementation.
  • Fiscal efficiency and transparency as a responsible steward of taxpayer funds.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

Through my years in human resources and acquisition, and charitable work as an active member of the Knights of Columbus (a fraternal Christian charity), I have gained valuable experience working with people from diverse backgrounds and with varied needs.I offer a new perspective for Sterling District that seeks to empower parents and taxpayers, respect their diversity of values, and work as a team with the other school board members to promote academic success and employee satisfaction, to deliver accountable and transparent leadership, and to demand the highest integrity of LCPS staff. Even one arrest is too many.

Brenda Sheridan*

Age: 50

Occupation: Industrial Security Analyst
Residence: Forest Ridge
Campaign website: BrendaSheridan.com

Why are you running and what your priorities for your third term? How do you concretely plan to accomplish those?

When I’m asked why I’m running for a third term, my answer is simple: I have made it my mission to speak for those who do not have a voice. With the creation of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Equity, which I advocated for during most of my tenure on the board, we are just beginning to address the issue of equity in our school division. I am the chair of this committee, and although it is challenging, I look forward to continuing the difficult conversations that we must have in order to close the opportunity gap. I believe it is the most critical issue this school division is currently addressing and I want to continue the important work we have started.

One of my top priorities is addressing the opportunity gap that exists in LCPS. I will continue to work with the Ad-Hoc Committee on Equity stakeholders to develop recommendations to the full School Board to make policy changes, provide professional development for all LCPS employees, and embed inclusive practices into our curriculum and school communities. We must begin early in a child’s school experience to teach and model equitable practices in every aspect of their education. Another top priority is the recruitment and retention of high quality teachers, administrators and staff. Every student should have access to excellent instructors, dedicated to their profession and trained to provide a safe learning environment. We must recruit teachers that reflect our student body, are dedicated to continued development of their skills and pay them a wage that demonstrates their value and the contributions they make to our community every day.

What are your priorities for the next budget, for which talks will begin as soon as the new board is seated?

I will continue to support efforts to eliminate the “sag” in the salary scale, paying our classified staff a livable wage, and the review of the competitiveness of our current compensations across all salary scales.
The School Counselor to student ratio must also be adjusted to the ASCA recommended 1:250 at all levels.  The demands placed on these professional staff members, due to the increasing needs of our students and families, must be supported by the school division.
I will also continue to advocate for differentiated staffing and differentiated allotments to ensure every LCPS student has access to the quality education and programs offered throughout the school division. We have increased the resources in our schools with the most challenging student populations, but we need to continue to meet the needs proactively in order to see improvements in attendance, assessments, and ultimately graduation rates. We must close the opportunity gap. 

Why are you running for election to the School Board? 

During my first two terms, I believe the School Board made many improvements to LCPS, but my main motivator is the issue of equity and leading the newly formed Ad Hoc Committee on Equity.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I look forward to making changes that directly impact the issues brought forward by the Equity Assessment.  While the issue of racism is not new to LCPS, we are finally addressing the issues that our students, parents and staff identified in the audit. It’s the most important works we have tackled in my time on the School Board.

What are the top issues facing LCPS?

Equity. Salaries, and resolving the sag in the salary scale while continuing to increase and keep our salaries competitive.

What are the main priorities you’re seeking to accomplish for your district or local community?

The Sterling District is unique as I represent all eight Title 1 schools in LCPS. Ensuring the schools in my district continue to benefit from differentiated staffing and allotments is a top priority.  Every LCPS student should have the save opportunities regardless of zip code.

What are your top accomplishments during your current term, and why does your experience matter?

The accomplishments I’m most proud of are universal full-day kindergarten, differentiated allotments for Title 1 schools, and full-time parent liaisons in Title 1 schools. My experience matters because I haven’t just spent my time as an elected official representing the Sterling District at meetings. I have spent my time in our schools in various leadership positions, volunteering and working beside teachers as a substitute. I get it.

Why should voters choose you at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5?

I have lived in Sterling for 21 years. My children attended Forest Grove, Sterling Middle, and graduated from Park View. My family has experienced how special the schools in my district are, and I’m here to advocate for the families that are currently enrolled and those who are coming in the future. I have spent my time over the last 16 years as a volunteer, substitute teacher, and as an advocate for our community. I am committed to ensuring the students in our schools have a high-quality education.


One thought on “On The Ballot: School Board

  • 2019-10-27 at 6:44 pm
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    I’m voting for Joe. Although I grew up in DC, I generally vote Democrat. I moved here with my 2 children after my divorce. While I’m not generally political in nature, I started following the school board race about 6 months ago. I’ve come to the conclusion that Joe is better informed, better educated, he has put in the time attending committee and school board meetings, meeting with everyone from custodial staff to cafeteria workers, all the way up to principals. He is easy to talk to, listens and is genuinely concerned. Seems like a pretty easy decision. I’ve been following all the candidates and while Beth may be likeable, she is a proud parent advocate and that is not what we need when the school system is going thru turbulent times and dealing with a $1.2B budget. He has the backing of the LEA, and is recognized as a person of vision who can get the job done. At the school board level, it’s about the right person for our children, not politics. This Democrat is voting for Joe.

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