Former Gainesville Member Applies to Position of PWCS Interim School Board Chairman

| March 19, 2018 | 0 Comments | Education

Don Richardson is applying to be school board chairman. He believes he is the best person for the job because he has had 10 years of experience serving on the school board;* additionally, he has championed safe schools and transparency.

The interim chairman will be elected by the seven remaining school members of the school board members. Many people have submitted applications, but none have a decade of experience on the board.

Richardson was appointed to the position of Gainesville representative in a board special election that occurred one day after 9/11, 2001. Since then he served on the board until 2011 when Alyson Satterwhite took over the position, having defeated him in a regular election.

Richardson said he wants to run because he genuinely enjoyed being on the school board and said that was one of the best experiences of his life.

“I enjoyed the process. I enjoyed being a part of a group of people working together really cooperatively to make decisions,” Richardson said.

And he thinks someone, like himself, who brings experience and history to the school board will be useful in these times when a fairly young board finds itself without a chairman.“I have an institutional memory,” he said.

Richardson said he has no plans to run for chairman in the special election. He only wants to serve. He has no political ambitions although he said he would not “100%” rule it out running for the Gainesville seat again if Satterwhite went on to be chairman. That would be depend upon whether he enjoyed his time on the board once again and felt the board was being productive.

Richardson feels that it is important for the chairman to be nonpartisan. Although he considers himself more of a Republican, he is not a party regular. “I haven’t been active in the party organization since I left office,” he said, and in fact the Republican Party endorsed Satterwhite when she ran against him.

He does not think school board position should be closely tied to party politics.

“I think there is a good reason while the school boards in Virginia don’t run with an ‘R’ or ‘D’ next to their names. Most of the business we do is not intrinsically partisan. If it becomes political it’s because someone made the decision to make it political for their own reason.”

He believes the school division works better when the board comes together and works collaboratively for the students, teachers and parents. He would like to see the board “step back and take a deep breath and go back to the boring mundane work.”

He enjoys government even when it’s not must-see-TV for residents. “I’m a governance wonk,” he said. “My dad was a school board member (in a school division in New Jersey.)”

He also believes in building consensus through compromise, saying he would rather get 75% of the things he wanted, than have a divided vote. He believes it is important the board present a united front and for everyone’s ideas and opinions to be heard and valued.

He also believes it is important for their to be mutual trust and respect between the school board members and the superintendent and his team.

Richardson thinks it is an ideal time for him to return to the board as issues that he championed during his term such as school safety and transparency are prime concerns again today.

In 2003 a student brought guns to Bull Run Middle School with the intent of doing substantial harm. Fortunately, another student intervened and then administrators were able to prevent a tragedy.

“That was my district” said Richardson, who worked with former Chairman Milt Johns on improving school safety. Addressing school safety that year, led to creating many of the safe guards that are in place today.

Richardson helped form the School Safety Committee, which evolved into a permeant School Safety Advisory Council of which Richardson remains involved. The council’s recommendations inform the Infrastructure Committee, thus safety features have built into school architecture over recent years.

Richardson is proud his work with that that council and is happy to see $1 million in end of the year funds Brentsville School Board member Gil Trenum proposed being allocated towards improvements.

He also helped further transparency within the school division by pushing for a joint county audit committee and an internal auditor.

Additionally, he helped to get the school agenda online.

“Getting the agenda system online is something we’re really proud of,” he said, saying it is important that public servants do their business in public and give the community time to weigh in on the issues. At the time this put PWCS ahead of the curve. Richardson said he is in the IT business and knew they could make it happen. “I could see that the technology was there or going to be there,” he said.

There are numerous candidates for interim school board chairman to date they include: Shawn Brann, Lucy Beaucham, Justin Caron, Doreen Dauer, John Gray, John Kribbs, Barbara Larrimore, Babur Lateef, Sarah Pitkin, Kevin Raymond, Donald Richardson, Heather Steele, London Steverson, Richard Wellman, Jr., Lori Williams and Wendy Wise.

*Since Lucy Beaucham’s recent application, Richardson is no longer the candidate with the most school board experience. As a former school board chairman who worked with Richardson, she could also bring her institutional knowledge to the board. She served until 2011 when Milt Johns became chairman.

Shawn Brann also has school board experience, having served as interim Brentsville school board member last year when Gil Trenum was away with the military in Africa.

Only school board members can vote. Residents can send their input to their representatives.

According to Prince William County Schools, Public Hearing on Prince William County School Board’s interim appointment will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 4, 2018, in the School Board meeting room at the Kelly Leadership Center.  Applicants for the position are also invited to speak for up to five minutes. The School Board plans to vote on the interim appointment on April 18, 2018.

The interim person will serve until after the special election to be held in November.

Read Don Richardson’s resume. SB Interim chair – Resume – Richardson

Read Don Richardson’s statement of intent. Statement for Board – Richardson

More information on other candidates to follow.

This is not an endorsement for Richardson on behalf of Bristow Beat. 

© 2018, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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Category: Education

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