No Competition for County School Board

There are three candidates running for three seats on the Albemarle County School Board. The county moved to an elected school board in 1993, and this is a first. Diantha McKeel and Pamela Moynihan are running for reelection, while Jon Stokes is running for an open seat. James Fernald has the story in today’s Daily Progress.

With Charlottesville facing the question of whether to move to an elected school board come November, it seems reasonable to ask whether this bodes well for the concept of an elected, rather than an appointed, school board. Is it possible that Albemarle is totally blissed out on the school system? There’s no change needed that warrants a changing of the guard, or even a little accountability? Or are the obstacles to running for office greater than whatever problems exist, and simply don’t merit the investment of time and money for anybody in these three districts? I’m seriously not sure if this means that the system works, or that it’s totally broken.

5 Responses to “No Competition for County School Board”


  • The Albemarle school system has several natural advantages that currently keep most people satisfied. The only real problem is redistricting, which parents seem to hate more than anything else about the school board. Albemarle has a very slow growing student population, before this year the school system’s totals did not increase for 4 years. This happened because of the expansion of private schools and a large influx of childless retirees. The other is a budget that has increased per pupil spending at a significant pace. The Albemarle school system also has to deal with many few at risk kids, which again saves money. The starting salary for a teacher with full benefits exceeds $37,500 and they have many more applications than openings every year.

    This board is very time consuming and because of the minuscule pay, only people who can take off lot of time from a 9-5 job or are well taken care of can afford to do so. It would be very difficult for a single parent or a two income family to take the time to run, let alone serve. A race can be done for several thousand but some have neared $10,000.

    To veer slight off track, I believe that Charlottesville is more in need of an elected school board than many other place in Virginia. That is for two reasons unrelated to current dissatisfactions, one party rule and an alarming lack of independents.

    One party in power leads to untested ideas and circular reasoning where it becomes more like the board of a self perpetuating board non-profit then a crucible for ideas. The fiascos of late are prime examples of that insular thinking. I have also be unhappy with city council lack of responsibility for appointing a board that seems criminal dysfunctional. This more than anything seems to assure my vote for the elected school boards.

    I have always be surprised by the lack of independents in city politics, in fact I can’t remember an independent ever being elected to city council. Considering that there has constantly been one or more on the Albemarle board of supervisors. The school board candidates have to run as independents, I think this might help.

  • I fail to see why we’d elect more “independents” to the school board when we have the same opportunity with city council and keep returning (overwhelmingly) democrats. I doubt a lack of “official” party affiliation will keep us from recognizing the usual suspects — and voting for them.

    I fail to see why the miniscule pay vs. monetary investment in campaigning applies only to the county. The city school board features miniscule pay as well. I see far fewer people bothering to ask for the job when the mere asking ranges from several thousand to ten thousand dollars.

    Because of all the general squawking, we had an enormous field of applicants for the school board last go round. Shifting to an elected school board will simply keep our choices narrowed to those who can afford it.

  • I am not looking just for more independents; the point is the complete absence of any in Charlottesville. The usual suspect will have party affiliation “unofficially” but not all will.

    The problems of running, money and time, will be same in the city. The malfeasance of the past school boards out weigh those concerns. Running for office does have the advantage of building public support. Going door to door and talking with voters before taking office that has to be a plus. Appearing at public forums and media interaction has to help with the job of being on a school board.

    I have heard people say elected school board will pass overwhelmingly. There have been few objections for elected school boards save the hard core democrats that don’t want change. But wonder has to wonder any question decided by voters.

  • Perlogik,

    If one is running unopposed, then one will not tend to go door to door and talk with voters.

    I voted in favor of having a referendum for an elected school board because a fundamental question like that should be decided by referendum and it clearly has enough support to deserve a fair hearing. However, when it is on the ballot I am going to vote against it.

    Why is the school board so special? Why not the Planning Commission, the Jail Board and the Library Board? What about city maintenance workers?

    Charlottesville Democrats had a very rough time recruiting candidates for City Council last election. The Republicans could only scare up 2 candidates for 3 seats – one of those candidates had stabbed 3 people and the other was a crackpot who wanted to teach biblical creationism in public schools and had only moved to Charlottesville about 5 minutes ago. So given how hard it is to find good candidates in a town this small, how is it going to help things if we have a whole list of new positions that are also elected?

    A likely outcome would be a couple of cranks and loons being the only people on the ballot and suddenly having control over millions of dollars of public money without any real public support. One day we *should* move to an elected school board. Maybe when Charlottesville reaches a population in the neighborhood of 100,000. When we have a larger pool of potential political talent from each major party to draw from. But right now having an elected school board in the city is going to create more and worse problems than it solves.

  • Elizabeth said:

    Because of all the general squawking, we had an enormous field of applicants for the school board last go round. Shifting to an elected school board will simply keep our choices narrowed to those who can afford it.

    And somehow Alvin Edwards, a political insider, still managed to get appointed. Of course as soon as he applied it was a foregone conclusion he’d get the job. However as one of the vocal complainants it was nice to see him step up to the plate and put his money where is mouth is.

    Jack said:

    A likely outcome would be a couple of cranks and loons being the only people on the ballot and suddenly having control over millions of dollars of public money without any real public support.

    As opposed to the current ones there now? I’m sure with an elected school board there would be plenty of qualified candidates. As to whether or not they’re “cranks and loons” well I’d just guess that depends on how closely you agree with their positions on the issues. And I can hardly imagine an elected school board mis-managing money as badly as this appointed one did. $291,000 is hardly pocket change.

    Perlogik said:

    One party in power leads to untested ideas and circular reasoning where it becomes more like the board of a self perpetuating board non-profit then a crucible for ideas. The fiascos of late are prime examples of that insular thinking. I have also be unhappy with city council lack of responsibility for appointing a board that seems criminal dysfunctional. This more than anything seems to assure my vote for the elected school boards.

    Well said. I agree entirely.

Comments are currently closed.

Sideblog