Lawman Won't Seek Reappointment To PE School Board

Published 2:56 pm Thursday, January 29, 2015

PRINCE EDWARD — January is the kick-off of the long school board selection season. Prince Edward is one of only a handful of Virginia counties in which school board members are appointed by the board of supervisors rather than elected by voters.

The process includes the input of citizen committees from respective districts reviewing applicants, public hearings, and an open opportunity to submit a candidate in an open forum. It takes months for the board to vote.

This year the board will consider appointments from Lockett and Prospect districts, though one familiar name will not be considered. Vice-Chairwoman Susan Lawman, who represented Lockett on the school board for nearly 12 years, is not seeking reappointment.

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Lawman, the pharmacist in charge for CVS, explained to The Herald that with the new store coming and “third-party insurances and Obamacare and everything, our job is much more stressful and much more time-consuming and everything so…that is a big part of why I’m leaving to have more time.”

She also noted there are some personal family health issues and she would like to spend more time with grandchildren.

But Lawman also added that she feels “the lack of appreciation and support from the board of supervisors.”

In some ways, she says, “I think they use the schools, because we are at warning or something like that, as their scape goat for industry not coming in.” The Town has had some success and Lawman believes the schools are not the only reason industry is not coming.

While Lawman has an issue of appreciation with the board of supervisors, that is not the case with her own representative, Lockett District Supervisor Robert “Bobby” Jones.

While Lawman says she’s not knocking the board of supervisors and that the County needs them, she adds it’s her understanding with the constitution that they are there to fund the schools; they weren’t there to micromanage the schools.

“…I think that that’s what some are trying to do,” she said. “Instead of letting us try to figure these problems out, they want to come in and figure the problems out…But at the same time when we ask for more money which we have for the last few years and we don’t get it, it’s for other programs that we’re hoping will help improve the schools but we don’t have the funding. Instead, they want us to cut what we have in order to do any of the other (things).”

Lawman cited that they have a lot of excellent teachers and children. Lawman offers that that the professionals and students work very hard. She says she doesn’t know how to get the word out that they do have good teachers, that the schools do a lot of amazing things and is not a horrible place.

Lawman said she’s really proud of the schools and how far they’ve come and she has offered to serve in other capacities if she has the time to do so.

She considers Prince Edward her county.

“It’s my county,” Lawman said. “I was born here. I grew up here. I want the best for it. I plan on retiring here and living here. So, naturally, I want the students to be better…and I think all students have potential.”

Her own two children are graduates of the County’s school system.

Among the accomplishments of the school board, Lawman highlighted: credentialing and certifications of the career tech center, the New Horizons alternative school (rather than sending their students to a regional alternative school), increasing the graduation rate.

Lawman also notes that when she originally sought the position, she promised that if anyone came to her with a question that she would pursue it.

“And I can honestly say that I have done that,” she said. “…Even if I thought that it was a waste of time or something like that, I actually did it…It didn’t matter, it was important enough for them to contact me, then it was important enough for me to go to the superintendent…or even sometimes I would go a little bit deeper than that and call whatever department that was involved. But I did look into every request that was brought before me.”

Prospect School Board representative Darin Thomas, who will complete his first term on the school board in June, confirmed that he will seek reappointment. He noted that he has enjoyed his time on the board, tried to be productive and said there’s “still a lot of stuff that we need to get done that I’d like to finish.”

Thomas offered that they have put a lot of things in place to improve the schools, improve SOLs, performance of the schools and he would like to see them come to fruition. Things are in place, he cited, the process just has to run through. Thomas said he would like to see the sports field updated, noting they are in the process of trying to get things done with that, that they’re in the process of trying to improve the culture and the reputation of the school.

“There’s a lot of things in place that hopefully will turn the schools around,” Thomas said.

He has one child still in school, a sophomore.