In anticipation of the upcoming election on November 7th, BTW has reached out to all Supervisor and School Board candidates to answer some questions about their candidacy. Today, we present the responses from Bart Randall, challenger in the Garrisonville School Board race (incumbent Chris Connelly is not seeking re-election.) We thank Mr. Randall for his time!
BTW: Tell us about yourself
I was raised in West Bend, Wisconsin, attending West Bend East High School. Following graduation, I attended 2 years of college prior to serving an 18-month mission to Nagoya, Japan for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Upon my return, I entered the United States Navy's Nuclear Power program in 1984. During my 24 year career, I served over 10 years on sea-duty and ended my career as a Master Chief (E-9).
During my time in the Navy, I earned an Associate of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and two Master of Arts degrees in Human Resources Development and Human Resources Management. Following retirement in 2009, I supported the Navy and Coast Guard as a defense contractor and last year was hired as the Acquisition Manager for the Coast Guard's 418' National Security Cutter.
My wife (Carolyn) and I have lived in the Hampton Oaks neighborhood since 2006 and recently celebrated our 31st anniversary. We have two grown children (my son graduated from North Stafford High School) and a beautiful 2 yr old granddaughter.
I have contributed countless hours of service to the community and church through the Stafford Baseball League (coach), Little League (coach), Boy Scouts (Scoutmaster, Team Coach), High School Advisory Council (South Carolina), Virginia Day of Service and other various church assignments, including youth leader and mentor (12-18 yr olds). In my spare time, I love to spend time with family and enjoy time on the golf course.
BTW: What drove your decision to enter the School Board race?
I have spent much of my adult life working with youth. Their energy and excitement for life is great to see. Watching them learn a new skill, overcome challenges and trust themselves and others is very rewarding. In the end, their success and their future is very important to me. We as a school system must do all we can to ensure that success.
I began some investigating and research early in the year when it was clear that the current incumbent would not be running. I recognized that there were several areas regarding the schools, staff and teachers that could be improved to further the success of our students. I also watched the recent redistricting process and it was clear that process improvements could be made. I am confident that my past experiences and professional skills (leadership, collaboration, teamwork, accountability) will be an important factor in tackling these important issues.
BTW: What differentiates you from the incumbent (or other challengers) in your race? What, if any, mistakes do you think the incumbent or the board in general has made that you would not have?
Since making the decision to run for the School Board I have attended numerous meetings, including working sessions, I have developed relationships with current members as well as standing members of the Board of Supervisors. I have worked diligently to be as prepared as possible so that if I am elected, I will be a contributing member of the Board as soon as possible.
As far as mistakes are concerned, I am not sure I would call them “mistakes” per se, but I firmly believe that there is room for improvement on several fronts, including how we take care of our teachers. I think removing the teacher’s COLA last year was ill advised. If teachers are important and education is one of the top priorities of the Board of Supervisors and School Board, then we must act accordingly.
BTW: What skills do you bring to the table that make you a particularly good choice for the job?
I have many skills that I think can be beneficial to the school board. Specifically, my leadership and determination are top of the list. I also have a strong sense of responsibility and accountability, both for myself and for others. We all must hold ourselves and each other accountable for the responsibilities that are ours to ensure the safety and success of each Stafford county student.
BTW: What are the most pressing issues you feel face SCPS?
I believe the most pressing issues facing SCPS are budget, teacher retention, and redistricting.
BTW: If elected, how do you plan to address the issues from the previous question?
Budget: It is an absolute necessity that we work on a budget that will meet the needs and address the priorities of the schools, and ensures the success of our students. Transparency must be increased and we must act in a way that will increase the public’s trust. There has been a great deal of angst and frustration with the budget and the process in the past. Some positive steps have been taken to work through these issues, but I believe more could be done to show fidelity, provide accountability and focus on the areas that will provide a greater return on our investment. Also, it is imperative that we strengthen the relationship with the Board of Supervisors. We must work together to determine the best approach to fund new schools, renovate our older schools and keep our auxiliary systems and equipment running smoothly.
Teacher Retention: The sacrifice, effort and dedication of our teachers is outstanding. We must do a better job supporting their efforts. We must be united in the effort to ensure our teachers are given every available opportunity and resource to help our children succeed. Compensation is extremely important and it must be one of our highest priorities, but other things also play a significant role in this support. Do they feel valued? Do they have input into the process? Do they have trust in their administration and the central staff?
Redistricting: This is a necessary “evil” particularly within our school district. It seems with our substantial growth in homes, we look at some form of redistricting every year. This should not be the case. When we redistrict, we must look long term at the options, not something that will put us under the cap next year, but something that will keep up under the cap for years to come. I believe we should have a longer input to the process, a more standard and confirmed enrollment projection process and a better way to address the concerns and inputs of our parents, teachers and staff.
BTW: The relationship between the Board of Supervisors and the School Board has long been a rocky one. Are you willing to work hand in hand with the Board of Supervisors to deal with the problems facing our school system?
This is a no-brainer. The School Board does not have the ability to raise their own funds. We are very reliant on the Board of Supervisors to provide the funds necessary to improve our schools, to build new schools and to keep our school system the reason why families move here. We not only must work hand in hand, but we must develop a joint long-term education strategy to deal with the growth of our county and provide the funding to the school board so it can best support our students and our teachers.
Thanks so much to Bart for answering our questions! To learn more about his campaign or to contact Bart Randall, visit his website at Randall4Stafford.com or on his Facebook page.