Three people are being considered for an appointment on Hanover County’s School Board at a time when some residents are pushing for the county to switch to an elected board.
Current board member Susan P. Dibble and two other candidates — Clara James Scott and Lakisha Greenhow — have been nominated to be the South Anna District representative on Hanover’s School Board.
Supervisor Wayne T. Hazzard said he plans to appoint one of them at the Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday so they can take office July 1.
Hazzard said he has interviewed each of the nominees and concluded they all value the children of Hanover.
“We talk about the issues related to the education of our kids and try to compare philosophies as well as what are their abilities,” he said of the interviews.
Hazzard said he was not in favor of changing the county’s grading scale, and he is not in favor of moving to an elected School Board. He touted the quality of Hanover’s schools as a reason he does not support such changes.
“I think you would have a hard time convincing other jurisdictions that have an elected school board that our system isn’t one they wish they still had,” Hazzard said.
Greenhow could not be reached for comment, but told the Board of Supervisors at a meeting that she had moved to Hanover for its good schools and supported the recent change to a so-called 10-point grading scale. Greenhow described herself as an “11-year veteran educator.”
Hazzard appointed Dibble to serve on the School Board in 2014. She was the board member who made the motion to adopt a new grading scale. In response to inquiries about why Dibble wants to be reappointed, she sent over the text of a presentation she gave to the Board of Supervisors when she was nominated.
“In my four years on the School Board, we have made great strides,” the text reads. “We have implemented new programs, we are taking better care of our facilities and we are implementing a much needed technology plan.”
Scott, a Patrick Henry High School graduate, is a retired public school administrator who worked in Hanover and Richmond schools. Scott said she recently was appointed to sit on the board for Hanover Habitat for Humanity.
“My passion is in career and technical education,” she said.
Attempting to join the School Board was in the back of Scott’s mind when she retired about two years ago. The debate that led to Hanover changing its grading scale made her more serious about it.
“I see the need to be part of what’s happening,” she said.
Scott said she was glad Hanover changed its grading scale — she sent an email to the School Board in support of the change. Scott said she had no preference on another question being posed in Hanover: whether the county should go from having an appointed School Board to an elected one.
A group called Hanover Citizens for an Elected School Board is collecting signatures for a petition to have a referendum asking Hanover voters whether they prefer an appointed or an elected School Board. Appointed school boards are in the minority in Virginia — just 17 localities have them. The push for an elected School Board in Hanover grew out of the efforts to change the grading scale.
Julie Stubblefield, the moderator for Hanover Citizens for an Elected School Board’s Facebook page, said the effort is going well but would not say how many signatures had been collected. The group’s goal is to have 8,500 signatures by July 14.
Advocates for the change have said electing board members would help the public know more about them and that, as good as Hanover’s schools might be, there is room for improvement. Supporters of keeping things as they are question why any change is needed and say an elected board could mire the board in politics.
Teresa “Teri” Smithson, Hanover’s general registrar and director of elections, said there were 77,684 registered voters in Hanover as of Jan. 1. Ten percent of registered voters’ signatures are needed to get a referendum on the ballot, Smithson said. That would mean Hanover Citizens for an Elected School Board needs a minimum of 7,768 signatures from registered voters.
Smithson said the deadline to submit the petition is 111 days before Election Day, Nov. 7. That falls on July 19.
School Board member Norman K. Sulser was the only nomination for the Cold Harbor seat on the School Board.