School Board Recap - January 19, 2016

Last week, on January 19, 2016, the Richmond School Board met with an interesting agenda set. After being pleasantly surprised by the turnout of support for Carver Elementary School’s recognition, which was stated to be the largest turnout the School Board had seen in a while by a security guard on duty, the School Board delved into the bulk of the agenda and began to address the vacancy in the 1st District.

Potential Candidates for School Board Position

Glen Sturtevant vacated his seat and was sworn into the Virginia State Senate earlier in January. Since, filling his former position and ensuring representation for the 1st District has been imperative for the School Board. On Tuesday, the Board fielded 10 candidates during the meeting. Each candidate was brought in individually where they then introduced themselves briefly, were given an overview of the interview process, and asked five questions, each by a different member of the School Board, regarding their perspectives on the School Board and the state of education in Richmond and how they would integrate themself into the system if selected.

The 10 candidates are as follows: J.E. Dawson Boyer, Richmond resident of 7 years and co-owner of family-owned Boyer’s Ice-Cream and Coffee; Deborah A. Corliss, member of the board for Patrick Henry School of Sciences and Arts for the past 7-8 years; Michael Dickinson, owner of Dickinson Entertainment who grew up in Richmond; Elizabeth B. Doerr, external communications coordinator at New Richmond Ventures; and Peggy A. Feldman, a 26-year Navy veteran; Sonja A. Keeve, a former vendor analyst with WestRock Co.; Rupa S. Murthy, chief development officer with the YWCA of Richmond; Matthew Percival, an engineer with the Navy’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency; Cody Sigmon, an eighth-grade English teacher at Carver Middle School in Chester; and Emily D. Turner, a fourth-grade teacher at Highland Springs Elementary School.

When asked questions concerning priorities if selected for the board position, most candidates responded with critiques of two major issues that continue to burden Richmond Public Schools: facilities and teacher recruitment & retention. These persisting problems have faced scrutiny by the board and the public for a while and most candidates acknowledged the efforts by Superintendent Bedden to remedy these problems. The next update on the candidate fielding process will be announced by the School Board on February 1, 2016 at 6:30 p.m.

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