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Votes

Cathy Belter Retains School Board Seat

Springfield district school board incumbent Cathy Belter felt the face- to-face contact with voters and experience was the main thing that led to her retaining her school board seat, defeating challenger Scott Martin 11,267 to 8,792 votes.

"It's that one-on-one that really helped me win the election," Belter said.

Two issues on her agenda included class size and budget. A pledge by Gov. Mark Warner concerning standards of quality in grades K-12 is on the top of her list.

"I will be working down in Richmond and see if I can hold the governor to his K-12 pledge," Belter said.

Belter's also keeping an eye on the public-private partnership being used to fund the south county high school. She may resort to that method of funding when it comes to building additional schools in the future.

"That's what we're hoping to do with some other schools," she said.

Belter's experience goes back to 1979 when she was on the Advisory Committee for Exceptional Children. From there, she was on school bond committees, the Virginia State PTA, the Blue Ribbon Commission on teaching, the National PTA and a librarian in Fairfax County before becoming a school board member in 2000.

Martin's experience with the county schools goes back to a position he held on the superintendent's advisory council as well as the Clifton PTA. In addition, he had over 15 years teaching on the college level and held positions of academic chair and assistant dean at George Mason University.

SPRINGFIELD PARENT Diane Smith watched the race to see if the issue of "lockdown," was addressed. At area schools, Smith noticed the doors to her children's school locked in response to the terrorist attacks and the sniper last fall. She didn't see the issue on any of the candidates Cathy Belter or challenger Scott Martin.

"School is locked and the parents are on the one side and the students are on the other. What we're going to do is exclude all the parents," Smith said.

She spoke with Martin about it but wasn't satisfied. Smith is still concerned about that issue which is something she doesn't feel was addressed.

"I don't know that there's been sufficient awareness of it. The parents I know are worried about it," she said.

Belter said she has been to several meetings with parents on the "lockdown" issue, including one at West Springfield High School. Easing the restrictions is one option Belter admitted might help but she felt that explaining the issue to parents, stressing that the children's safety was the goal, was adequate.

"There certainly could be a period of easing the restrictions," Belter later said.

One thing Martin was looking at was personnel on the school's payroll that aren't accounted for at the school level.

"It added another layer of bureaucracy," Martin said.

The South County School is another area of concentration. Contract incentives were on Martin's plan.

"It's always more difficult to generate new ideas," he said.