VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — With less than a week away from Election Day!
In Virginia Beach, there are six seats and 11 candidates, including four incumbents, running for the city's School Board. Here's a look at the candidates in Districts 8, 9 and 10.
District 8 in Virginia Beach covers part of Shore Drive, Kings Grant and Great Neck neighborhoods.
Incumbent Carolyn Rye is running against David Culpepper.
If elected, Rye would serve her third school board term. Rye said she’s running again to promote student wellness, push for employee compensation and continue to close achievement gaps.
“We are in the business of teaching children,” Rye said. “So we can point with pride to our state accreditation for all 82 test sites, our SOL scores that exceed regional outcomes and yet another graduation rate. While at the same time acknowledging the learning loss that has occurred over these past few years.
"We must and will continue our very deliberate and data driven approach to learning recovery. This includes universal resource support to all of our schools and very targeted support to specific schools and students.”
David Culpeper is a retired Navy Captain who still works in the aviation industry. He said he’s running for the school board to bring more transparency to the school system, help spend the budget wisely and focus on parental rights.
“If elected, the number one thing I promise I will do is ensure our school board, our school board policies, and our schools follow what is explicitly stated in Virginia law and that is that parents have the fundamental right to direct the upbringing education and care of their children,” Culpepper said. “The government is not their parent.”
This year District 9 covers the Bayside area and a portion of Shore Drive.
Incumbent Carolyn Weems is up against Erika Guess.
Weems is running for her sixth term. She’s a lifelong educator, currently teaching elementary students in another district. If elected, Weems said she wants to expand program opportunities for special education students and focus on vocational-technical schools.
“I am going to push for more [vocational-technical] options,” Weems said. “64% of Virginia Beach residents don’t have a college degree. It is time that we offer a full-time comprehensive high school that will teach the skills and trades necessary for these students so they can get great paying jobs after they graduate.”
Erika Guess works in digital marketing and video production. She said she wants to work on school building improvements, division communication and getting school staff more resources.
“We are in the middle of a staffing crisis and everybody needs to be on board for us to make a difference and for us to have a functional school system,” Guess said. “So I want to make sure that everyone from school nurses and teacher assistants and bus drivers and custodians and educators are all on the same page, and they are being paid competitively. It is not just about pay though, I want to make sure they all have manageable workloads.”
District 10 covers the Green Run and Rosemont neighborhoods and a part of Landstown.
Kim Bentley and Kathleen Brown are going head to head for the seat.
Bentley is a quality analyst for the VA and president of the Green Run Homes Association.
“I want to work to the benefit of everyone, I am not trying to leave anyone out of the conversation,” Bentley said.
Kathleen Brown is a figure skating coach with three kids in the school system.
“I want the best education for my kids and I want that same best educational experience for every single student in Virginia Beach,” Brown said.
Brown said she wants to focus on workforce readiness and vocational options if elected.
“I am really looking to expand the vocational options and my business degree puts me in a really good position to analyze and manage our school division's $1.1 billion budget to make sure that is actually happening for our youth,” Brown said. “We do pretty good with the college-bound students and I want to continue to support them, but I also want to support our students that are not college bound as well."
Bentley said he’s running to help improve school infrastructure and strengthen communication in the division. He said vocational opportunities are also top of mind.
“I am the only one that has been talking about trade union representation from day one,” Bentley said. “It is important that we not only have that vocational training but we have that union representation coming to the schools. Every time we have a career day or we have the military recruiters coming to the schools, we should have the local union representation coming into the schools to show those benefits as well.”