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Meet the candidates running for Virginia Beach School Board Districts 2, 4 and 6

Election Day is less than a week away. In Virginia Beach, voters will have the chance to reshape the school board.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Election Day is less than a week away. In Virginia Beach, voters will have the chance to reshape the school board after a year of controversial comments and tense meetings.

There are 11 candidates, including four incumbents, running for the Virginia Beach School Board.

District 2

Incumbent Kimberly Melnyk is battling Alexis Gerdes and Amy Solares for the District 2 seat.

If elected, Melnyk would serve her third term on the Virginia Beach School Board. She’s a former teacher and business owner. Melnyk said she wants to create more opportunities for trade students and develop a strong relationship with city council members.

“I have always said that VBCPS is this city's number one economic driver,” Melnyk said. “And we get half of the city council’s budget. I think the citizens deserve the opportunity to see school board and city council working together, and I think that relationship should really be strengthened.”

Gerdes works in the medical sales industry. She has three young children in the school system and said they are her motivation to run for office.

Gerdes said she wants to ensure students are workforce ready and focus on safety.

“Safety is job number one for me,” Gerdes said. “I think that our school resource and security officers deserve our full support. This is not a partisan issue. I think we must fund them, train them and recruit more of them.”

Solares works with nonprofit organizations and has a student in the school system. Solares said she is running to get teachers more resources and to fight for parental rights.

“Number one, bringing parent and community members back to the drawing board,” Solares said. “Study after study has shown that parental and community involvement only helps our schools and students succeed.”

District 4

The battle over District 4 is between Ken Lubeck and Staci Martin.

Lubeck is a Navy veteran and an IT manager. He said he’s running to focus on parental rights, vocational training and getting students caught up.

“We have $1.1 billion in the school budget,” Lubeck said. “We just need to look at where we are putting our effort and money and is it producing the best outcome, which are kids being prepared for higher education, the military or they are job ready.”

Martin works part-time at Old Dominion University and full-time with a state agency. She said she’s running to improve workforce readiness and get more students to the finish line.

“We have some completion rates in Virginia Beach that are around 93%, so we are looking at a couple of hundred students who are not getting to the finish line every year,” Martin said. “So, that is something I would really like to focus on."

District 6

Incumbent Sharon Felton and candidate Michael Callan are vying for District 6.

If elected, Felton would serve her third term on the school board. She’s a retired library specialist who wants to keep advocating for students, teachers and the community.

“Continue to advocate to legislators and to Congress that they need to think about and consider to work on giving staff and teachers and equitable wage, a living wage,” Felton said. “They have not had that in so long. I also want to continue to advocate for my students to have a healthy learning environment.”

Callan is a financial advisor and said his grandchildren motivated him to run. He wants to raise standards in Virginia Beach to ensure students are workforce ready.

“We need to hold those standards very, very high,” Callan said. “As we all learned as adults, life, as we entered it, is far more demanding than we thought when we were teenagers and kids. And as a result, what we need to do is have an educational environment that prepares kids for the rigors that life will demand from them, by subjecting them to rigorous standards while they are in class.”

Virginia Beach School Board members Laura Hughes and Dorothy Holtz are not running for another term. Beverly Anderson, Jennifer Franklin, Victoria Manning, Jessica Owens and Trenace Riggs are up for election in 2024.

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