Meet the School Board Candidates

Meet the School Board Candidates

Four candidates vie for three seats in District C.

The city’s west end features the only incumbent member of the School Board to seek reelection: Vice Chairman Charles Wilson. He and three other newcomers will be seeking three positions on the School Board.

PETER ATHERTON is a native of Natick, Mass., and has lived in Alexandria since 2001. He has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Bridgewater State College.

“I was previously elected to a school board in another community,” Atherton said. “While serving as a school board member, I developed hands-on experience hiring a superintendent, rebuilding and remodeling school buildings and developing school budgets that direct funds to the classroom and not the administration.”

His top three goals for the next School Board are:

Restore Faith: Atherton says that the current School Board has “let the community down.” “With the exception of Ms. Lewis and Mr. Foran, this School Board has failed to provide leadership for the Alexandria City public schools,” he said.

Restrain Administration: He says that he wants to make sure money is spent “in the most efficient way” to help classroom activity as opposed to adding new positions to the schools’ central administration. “Currently, we have the lowest paid entry-level teachers in the region but have added administrative positions for areas such as public relations,” he said.

Develop Leadership: Atherton wants to cultivate “strong, proactive leadership” in Alexandria that can create a public education system that can rival private schools in the city. “I believe that a new School Board, with experienced members like me, can direct a superintendent to spend more time in the community and more time working with educators. With this type of leadership, we will see an increase in the morale of the teachers and greater enrollment.”

RONNIE CAMPBELL is a native of Brookfield, Mass., and has lived in Alexandria since 1985. He graduated from Tantasqua Regional High School and attended Worcester State College.

A longtime employee of the Untied States Postal Service, Campbell is currently a sales associate. She is a member of the School Board’s Budget Advisory Committee, the board of the Virginia state Parent-Teacher Association and the first assistant director to the Fairfax District PTA. She is a past president of the PTA Council and a past president of the John Adams Elementary School PTA.

“Because my youngest daughter has special needs, I became involved in various special education committees,” she said. “As a single parent raising my children in the west end apartment community I understand many of the challenges of living in a highly populated area.”

Her top three goals for the next School Board are:

Enhance Communication: Campbell says that Alexandria City Public Schools needs “a more transparent process” for budgeting decisions, calendar preparation the laptop initiative and the new small-learning communities at T.C. Williams High School. “I want to ensure that our staff and teachers are included and consulted in every step as we progress in these areas,” she said.

Support Teachers: She says that the administration should put a stronger emphasis on attracting highly qualified teachers and staff. “I plan on working closely with the city to be more competitive with surrounding districts in order to recruit and retain high-quality teachers and staff,” she said.

Expand Opportunities: Campbell wants to use her experience working with special-needs students to make sure that all children are receiving an appropriate education. “It is rewarding to see how far we have come in this area, but we still have a long way to go to ensure that all children receive the education and services they need and deserve,” she wrote.

BLANCHE MANESS is a native of Lawrenceville, Va., and she has lived in Alexandria since 1967. She has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction.

“A successful education career of teaching, school administration and parent experiences qualifies me to represent children, parents, school employees and citizens of Alexandria,” she said.

Her top three goals for the next School Board are:

Reorganize Administrators: Maness says that she wants to “ensure academic excellence for all students while closing the minority achievement gap.” She recommends doing away with the executive director of elementary schools to add two new positions: director of instructional programs for the east end and west end.

Meet Standards: She said that she wants to “monitor and report academic growth for opt-out transfer students under the No Child Left Behind Act.” To help meet the federal standards, Maness suggests tracking data from the standardized tests and monitoring the flow of federal funds.

Expand Services: Maness says that she wants to create a new administrative position: assistant superintendent for special education services. “This person must be highly certified in special education administration,” she said. “Additionally, each school with a large population of special education children should have a special education coordinator.”

CHARLES WILSON is a native of Chicago and has lived in Alexandria since 1983. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland and a master of business administration from Webster University.

A former Army colonel, Wilson served on the board of directors of the Cameron Station Credit Union for 10 years. He was first elected to the School Board in 2003. He is co-chairman of the Washington Area Boards of Education and vice chairman of the Alexandria School Board.

His top three goals for the next School Board are:

Increase Accreditation: Wilson wants to add to the list of accredited schools in the city “without sacrificing art, music, sports or character development.”

Improve Communication: He says he wants “a greater voice for citizens without students in our schools.”

Consider Options: Wilson says that he will work to ensure “fair and thoughtful votes on all issues.”