Alyson Satterwhite Announces Run for Prince William School Board Chair

| March 27, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

Alyson Satterwhite, Gainesville representative to the Prince William School Board.

“School Mom and Former Military Spouse to Focus on More Opportunities For Students”

Gainesville District School Board Member Alyson A. Satterwhite announced Tuesday that she will run for the Prince William County School Board Chairman-At-Large Special Election in November.

Alyson is a wife, mother of four, and former military spouse who has served on the School Board since 2012. All of Alyson’s children have graduated from Prince William County Public Schools.

“I am excited today to announce my campaign for Prince William County School Board Chairman-at-Large,” said Satterwhite. “Prince William County is a very special place that attracts families from all around the world, and I love this community. The quality of life and vicinity to government service and economic opportunities are why so many families choose to locate here; it’s why my family chose to retire here from the military 13 years ago.”

Satterwhite has been one of the most vocal members of the school board, and the one who most frequently called out former Chairman Ryan Sawyers. She also requested that the board return to following procedure as per policy and the Virginia Code and act as a collective entity, not as individual actors.

Satterwhite fought for the upgraded hybrid design for the 13th high school that would seat more students, and even called a special meeting with five members to pass the approval of the new model. Sawyers later took a board vote to strike the meeting.

Satterwhite tended to lean conservative and vote along with other Republicans on the board. She voted against adding LGBTQ people to the nondiscrimination policy, saying they have not looked closely enough at what the policy change would entail.

However, Satterwhite said she wants to make the school board less partisan and offers goals that are universal such as reducing classroom sizes, improving school safety and student mental health, and increasing fiscal responsibility and transparency.

During her time as Gainesville representative, Satterwhite has worked to enhance school safety, increase the number of school nurses and social workers, support military families, increase teacher pay, promote fine arts programs, and reduce class sizes, among other initiatives that were adopted by the board.

As a parent of a child with Tourette Syndrome, she has also made special education a priority as an advocate and School Board Member.

But parents have criticized Satterwhite for not directly addressing their concerns over the Reagan Middle School principal. School board members are not allowed to publicly comment on personnel issues especially those they will need to rule on during closed session hearings.

At a town hall meeting in February, Satterwhite explained how she is working to defend children, especially special education students, and reads every email to stay abreast of the situation.

Satterwhite chose to raise her family in Prince William County and worked to advocate for her children. She tries to do the same for others in her role on the board.

“It is important that Prince William County Public Schools remain a welcoming place for families, and provide an education that addresses the workforce needs of tomorrow. I firmly believe that every single one of our Prince William students can be successful, and I want to help them achieve their highest ability,” said Alyson.

She also wants to keep high standards with the focus on preparing students for life after graduation.

“I want each of our students to be career or college ready when they graduate from Prince William County Schools. As the second largest school system in Virginia, our more than 89,000 students deserve a school board that is purely focused on their future – I am completely focused on putting our students first. There is much work to be done. If elected chair, I will do everything within my power to humbly serve all of our students and try to make sure they are prepared for the future.”

Before serving on the board, Satterwhite gained knowledge of the school division, community and school board by volunteering for or being appointed to the following positions:

  • Northern Virginia Special Education Regional Program (January 2014-December, 2015)
  • Prince William County Public Schools Superintendent’s Advisory Council (2008-2009)
  • Prince William County Public Schools Social Studies Textbook Adoption Committee (2010-2011)
  • Prince William County Public Schools School Health Advisory Board (January 2015-December, 2017)
  • Joint Board of the Governor’s School @ Innovation Park (2016-present)
  • Prince William County Public Schools Safe Schools Advisory Council (2013-present)
  • Parent Volunteer at Tyler Elementary School (1995-1998), Mountain View Elementary School (2004-2008), Gravely Elementary School (2008-2010), Bull Run Middle School (2004-2008; 2010-2013), and Battlefield High School (2004-2012, 2013-2017)
  • Principal’s Advisory Council, Gravely Elementary School (2008-2010)

Satterwhite considers her top accomplishments to be the following:

  • Increase special education positions to provide better services for families (2016)
  • Increase nurse positions to ensure adequate medical care for students (2017)
  • Add funding for 12 school social workers to the budget (2018)
  • Reduce high school class sizes by adding cost-efficient seats to high school designs, which saved over $150 million for our schools
  • Support anti-bullying campaign as a member of the Safe Schools Advisory Committee

Alyson grew up in California and Florida during her father’s Naval career, graduating from Pensacola Junior College with an Associate of Science degree. After her marriage to Doug, she graduated from George Mason University with a Bachelor of Science in Education. As a military family, the Satterwhite’s were stationed in the Washington, D.C. area and lived in Prince William County from 1995 to 1998, and returned in 2004 to retire and lay down roots in this Prince William community. While supporting her family throughout numerous military stations and deployments, Alyson has also worked as an independent business consultant for Tupperware and Mary Kay.

One of Alyson’s children attends Radford University, while three have already graduated college from Virginia Wesleyan College, George Mason University, and Virginia Tech. Alyson’s husband, Doug, currently works for a defense contractor in Northern Virginia.

Prince William County Schools is facing difficult challenges. It has the lowest per-pupil spending in Northern Virginia. Its teacher salary increases this year, at 2.7%, falls behind that of other districts, where teachers are getting a step increase plus cost of living, which many fear could lead to teacher turnover.

With an ever-growing population, PWCS struggles with overcrowding in schools, large class sizes, money tied up in debt for construction of new schools and the need to upgrade older facilities. While the Board of County Supervisors set the budget, the majority of the school board voted not to add the COLA to the budget unless they receive more money from the Virginia General Assembly.

Before the special election for school board chairman, the board will elect an interim chairman on April 18. There are 20 applicants for the position.

Adopted from a submission from the Alyson Satterwhite for Prince William School Board Chairman campaign. 

Republican Committee Response:

“The Prince William County Republican Committee has not yet determined a possible endorsement process for the School Board Chairman Special Election for this November. There are many options on the table, including the possibility of not endorsing a candidate at all. School Board is a nonpartisan position, and our community is eager to see less partisanship on the School Board. Our Committee will determine a way forward in the summer.” -Bill Card, Chairman, Prince William County Republican Committee.

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