Concerns About the Elected School Board Referendum

By: Summer Knowles
By: Summer Knowles

November 3, 2005

The fate of the Charlottesville School Board will soon be in the hands of voters.

Signs saying elected school board vote yes are all over town, but some in the community don't feel an elected board will effectively get the job done.

"I am definitely against having an elected school board, and I will be voting no to that referendum," says former school board member and concerned parent Byron Brown.

Brown has children in the school system and believes an elected school board won't be a diverse one.

"You need not look far to see that when you have elected positions in Charlottesville and Albemarle County, it's not diverse."

Charlottesville resident Chris Walker believes otherwise. "I would think we would have a school board that matched the population of the city."

Walker says allowing residents to have a say in the matter is the right thing to do.

"I'm in favor of citizens being able to vote for the school board members basically because I think the more choice we have in our governmental system the better, and I see that as a way to have more choice and more accountability.

Opponents of the referendum believe decisions will be focused around pleasing your constituents.

"You'll have accountability to those who contribute money to your campaign but not to those kids who are at risk who really need the accountability," says Brown.

Not everyone knows where they stand on the issue yet, but a lot of people are giving it a great deal of thought.

"If you have to work for something, you're going to respect that position a little bit more, not only that there's higher accountability I would think," says local resident Jasen VanDyke.

"But a negative side would be you have all of the political issues involved."

Voters will have the final say on the referendum on the November 8 ballot.

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