After the May 2 election, Alexandria will have a School Board that may be entirely different than the current one. Only one incumbent — Charles Wilson, who is finishing his first term on the board — has filed papers to stand for re-election.
“It’s an unusual confluence of events,” said Chairwoman Mollie Danforth. “Some have decided not to run for professional reasons. Others have chosen not to run for personal reasons.”
Danforth has served four terms, and she was part of the first class of elected School Board members in 1994. Sally Ann Baynard and Mark Eaton have served three terms. Mark Wilkoff served two terms. Gwen Lewis served one term and part of another, winning a special election in 2002 to replace a board member who resigned. Arthur Schmalz and Melissa Luby are leaving the School Board after their first term. Ken Foran, who is also finishing his first term on the board, is now seeking a seat on the City Council.
“I think we’re leaving the school system in better shape,” Luby said. “I’m really happy with what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Luby said that she was proud of a number of initiatives that the School Board has taken in the past three years, such as the requiring advanced placement students to take college-level tests, giving laptops to all high school students and increasing the number of schools that are accredited.
“I think we’ve introduced more choice,” Danforth said. “Normally, you have go to the school where you are assigned. But, with the creation of several focus schools, we’ve provided parents with a lot more opportunities.”
IN ADDITION TO Vice Chairman Charles Wilson, thirteen other candidates will be campaigning for eight open seats in the May 2 election, and the Parent Teachers Association Council will be hosting candidate forums in each of the city’s three districts.
Eastern District — Five candidates have applied to be on the ballot for the three open seats: Elliott Branch, Sheryl Gorsuch, Sanford Horn, Scott Newsham and Elieen Rivera. A forum for these candidates will be held at 7 p.m. on March 22 in Mount Vernon Community School’s auditorium.
Central District — Five candidates have filed to be on the ballot for the three open seats: Claire Eberwein, Yvonne Folkerts, Arthur Peabody, Elynn Simons and Peter Smeallie. A forum for these candidates will be held at 7 p.m. on March 30 in Minnie Howard School’s auditorium.
Western District — Four candidates have filed for the three available seats on the west end: Peter Athertom, Ronnie Campbell, Blanche Maness and Charles Wilson. A forum for these candidates will be held at 7 p.m. on March 28 in Ramsay Elementary School’s auditorium.