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Candidates address board

Members of the Prince Edward County School Board heard from candidates seeking to be considered for appointment to represent the Lockett District during their meeting Wednesday.

The seat is now vacant following the resignation of Dr. Chapman Hood Frazier.

Frazier, who announced his resignation in August, cited health concerns and a position as professor in residence for James Madison University at Prince Edward County High School as reasons for the resignation.

The four candidates seeking the temporary position are Doug Farley, Glenn Fowlkes, Carol Stiff and General Jenkins. Farley, Fowlkes and Stiff spoke during the meeting. Jenkins was not present at the meeting.

The Lockett District seat, originally thought to have a temporary term of October and December of this year, will now extend to December 2018 once an appointment has been made by the school board.

Farmville District Representative and School Board Chairman Sherry Honeycutt said during the meeting that the term for the appointed position would extend to next December.

Though originally intended for the position to be elected in the coming November election, Honeycutt explained that County Attorney James Ennis and Circuit Court Judge Donald Blessing notified the board that the position would be available to be elected the following November.

During a discussion by members of the school board earlier in the day, the unexpected resignation did not leave enough time for the position to be processed by the county or to appear on the ballot this November.

Following the discussion, the board agreed to a petition that would allow for members of the public to vote for a Lockett District school board member next November.

Members of the school board will choose the temporary candidate Sept. 18.

The candidates gave roughly five-minute statements to the board and audience in attendance. Following the statements, audience members were encouraged to address the board about the candidates, and Lockett District candidates then had 10- to 15-minute private interviews with members of the board.

Farley discussed his passion for education and student achievement as an educator and a lifelong Lockett District resident, noting local environments can shape students for life. He also commended the board for improvements made within the school system over the past few years.

“Many have realized that we are in a new era of global competition,” Farley said, noting he has worked in education for more than 29 years and as a coach for several years. “We must instill in our youth to think globally and impact locally.”

He noted that he would support programs that would benefit all students, including trade programs for students who may not choose a four-year college.

“I know how to motivate students,” Farley said, noting his work with student-athletes. “Having played a role in their development has been a real joy.”

“Whether I am selected or not, I wish (for the) continued commitment and hard work of this board to continue to benefit Prince Edward’s youth,” Farley said.

Fowlkes, during his statement, noted his experience for more than 20 years in the mental health field as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), often working with at-risk students.

“I believe strongly in public education and in being able to be the best that we can be,” Fowlkes said. He noted the turbulent history of the county’s public school system that students experienced during the era of Civil Rights. He said while progress has been made in terms of the system being inclusive, he said he wanted to help in continuing progress.

He said his input on the school board would be student-focused. After the meeting, Fowlkes said he hoped to be an advocate for parents, particularly for parents of special-needs students, understanding the concerns they may have as a parent with children in school.

“I would see my primary goal on the board to certainly support the superintendent and the schools at large,” Fowlkes said.

Stiff said her career with the Piedmont Regional Jail for more than 26 years and with the Longwood University Police Department has allowed her to collaborate with people with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints.

“I believe in working together for a common goal, to be a team player to accomplish what is best for all,” Stiff said.

Stiff is a graduate of Prince Edward County High School, as are two of her children. She said her experience in the school and as a resident in the county would enable her to understand the needs of the students and work toward what will benefit all of them, focusing on Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores.

“I encourage all children I encounter that education is a lifeline,” Stiff said. “If they believe that education is a lifeline, then they all will survive.”

A member of the public, Cindy Koether, spoke in favor of Jenkins, saying she noted a dedicated and conscientious approach to education and listening to diverse viewpoints he took as a student of hers at Hampden-Sydney College.

“I expect he will put the same dedication and seriousness into understanding and solving the problems facing Prince Edward schools,” Koether said. “It would be wonderful for the board to have the perspective from someone from the younger generation.”

Honeycutt thanked the candidates for their participation, noting the representative would be appointed by board members Sept. 18.