Seven candidates in contention for South Anna, Cold Harbor school board seats

Posted on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 10:25 am

The Board of Supervisors received seven nominations for two School Board seats during a public hearing Wednesday evening.

Four women were nominated to represent the South Anna District, and three men were nominated to represent the Cold Harbor District. Both incumbents are seeking reappointment.

The board will choose among Lynn Hargrove, Sue Dibble, Amy Mendelson Cheeley, and Ann Hagan Gladstone, current chair of the School Board, for South Anna; and Paul Cash, Norman Sulser, and incumbent Robert “Bob” Wood for Cold Harbor.

Hargrove told the board, “I am certain that the board could benefit from my business perspective, experiences, and my ability to put forth proactive collaborative ideas and solutions that will benefit all involved.”

She added, “If we strive to continue to create that learning environment that invites all Hanoverians, and we continue to make the right decisions concerning our schools, our county will continue to prosper, retaining the workforce desperately needed for economic development and attracting businesses.”

Dibble also mentioned her business experience; she started her own landscape architecture firm in 1990. She has also been active in the PTAs of Elmont Elementary and Liberty Middle schools.

“I’m a strong advocate for our public schools, and I definitely have a vested interest in seeing our Hanover schools maintained and to expand upon the high level of education that we are providing for our children,” she said. “I’m not afraid to ask hard questions, and I’m not afraid to find some creative solutions.”

Cheeley was nominated by South Anna resident Pattie Bland, who said, “I know Amy to be an informed and engaged parent and citizen. She is most worthy of consideration for this important position.”

Cheeley did not speak at the public hearing.

Gladstone, who has nine years of school board experience, touted the accomplishments of the Hanover system.

“This School Board has a long tradition of being proactive and recognizing the community’s desire for new educational opportunities,” she said.

According to Gladstone, two of the greatest challenges pre-recession were keeping up with population growth and meeting the demands of the state and federal governments.

“Our challenge now became how to continue to exceed community expectations while cutting the budget and staff,” Gladstone said.

“I have worked hard to learn all I can and to earn the trust and confidence of everyone involved in our schools. … I would like very much to continue in this role to provide continuity and see the school system through the transition begun in 2009,” she concluded.

South Anna Supervisor Wayne Hazzard said he would get in touch with all four nominees and personally interview each one.

For the Cold Harbor District, Cash described his 27 years of Navy service and 14 years working for Hanover County Public Schools, from which he retired as director of building services. He also taught alternative education and was an assistant principal at Patrick Henry High School.

“I have been exposed to budgetary crises, personal issues and movement of men, women and material throughout the world and met those challenges successfully,” he said.

During his time as director of building services, “we never lost a day to a maintenance malfunction,” he noted.

“With this nomination, you get an individual who is familiar with teaching, facilities, budgeting, and most importantly, an honest understanding of compromise and teamwork,” Cash said.

Norm Sulser said he has been a long- and short-term substitute teacher for the past 12 years at Lee-Davis High School, and he volunteered for 24 years as a reserve deputy for the Hanover Sheriff’s Office.

He also previously served on the School Board for eight years in the 1980s and 1990s.

“We had to be involved in the renovation of Lee-Davis and Patrick Henry High School from an open campus school to a closed school. We moved forward with the growth of Hanover County to build Atlee High School, to build Chickahominy Middle School, to build Cold Harbor Elementary School. We were involved in a lot of projects and a lot of transfer of students,” he said.

Wood, the incumbent of 20 years, said, “We have the best schools in this region, if not in the state. Our board and staff have enjoyed a great working relationship with the county administration and the board of supervisors.”

He said the current School Board has considerable experience. “This continuity and good working relationship is hard to beat. I feel that this is one of the reasons that our school system has continued to move forward with these economic times and struggles that our country is going through.”

He said, “It will take a new board member into their second year before they feel comfortable with all of the processes and all of the things that we go through as a school system, whether it be budgetary or all of the other decisions that we make.”

Cold Harbor Supervisor Elton Wade made no comment at the meeting. Previously, however, he has publicly expressed his intention to recommend Sulser, his campaign manager, for the appointment.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to vote on the appointments at its June 12 meeting. The current terms for the South Anna and Cold Harbor School Board seats expire June 30.

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