Hanover’s Board of Supervisors has a tough decision ahead of them.
Three active Hanover residents in the community are challenging incumbent and vice chairman of the school board, Glenn T. Millican Jr., for the Mechanicsville District seat.
Roger Bourassa is one of the three Mechanicsville residents hoping to be next to represent his district. Bourassa has lived in the area for more than 20 years and has a child who
will graduate from Lee-Davis High School in June.
Though Bourassa is not a Hanover native, he has managed to stay involved since he first moved to the county. In addition to attending numerous school board, board of supervisors and planning commission meetings, he served on the economic development authority from 2003 to 2011. Also, for more than 10 years, Bourassa was the chief election officer at the Hanover Grove precinct.
“I’m somewhat of a familiar face,” Bourassa said. “I hope my involvement in the past would be a benefit and I’m just sincere about Hanover County.”
Bourassa has worked in computer information technology for almost 30 years, witnessing many changes along the way. Bourassa said he has learned to adapt to the developments in his field and if appointed, he would be able do the same while working on the school board.
In addition, Bourassa believes he knows what it takes to “maintain the excellence” of the school system which involves having a broader perspective of understanding how things work in the county and with the schools.
“I know that everything in Hanover that occurs from the growth, tax rate, economic development, all has a direct impact on Hanover County Public Schools,” he said.
If Bourassa were appointed to the school board, some of his priorities are: keeping teacher-student ratios low, enhancing technology and focusing school safety. Bourassa said he would also address maintaining school buildings.
Like Bourassa, one of the other nominees for the position, Robert Barnette Jr., a safety engineer, has made it a point to be involved in the community, although he was not born in Hanover County. Currently, Barnette serves on the Hanover Social Services Board and is a Sunday School teacher at his church, Mount Zion Baptist Church. In the past, he served as the president of Hanover Rotary Club and was a member of the Hanover Community Services Board.
He also has direct ties to Hanover schools. Barnette’s wife is a teacher at Lee-Davis High School and three of his grandchildren attend Hanover schools.
Barnette’s education background is in public safety and general business administration. He served with the U.S. Air Force for four years but was honorably discharged.
Barnette believes his experience and background would benefit him in the position.
“I have a diverse background — touching a lot of the organizations in the county and I think it would facilitate a better advocate for more educational funding and/or programs,” Barnette said.
One of the programs that Barnette said he would focus attention on and promote is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, because he feels it plays a vital role in preparing students for their futures.
“[It] is critical if students want to be prepared for a global economy,” he said. “We need to get our parents and caregivers informed on how important getting their kids into these programs is.”
Barnette’s other priorities include: adding more technology in schools and staying on top of Capital Improvement Plan building maintenance and enhancements.
Also in the running for the school board seat is Tricia Rudolph, a Lee-Davis High School graduate.
After Rudolph was nominated during the board of supervisors’ May 14 public hearing, she said that she would be a good candidate for the position because she would bring a fresh perspective to the board.
Rudolph’s passion is for children and education and has advocated for laws related to both topics at the General Assembly. In addition, she has served at state and local level PTA organizations. In the past, she served as a two-term president of the Hanover County Council of PTAs. During that time, Rudolph said she sat on numerous committees for the school board.
Two of Rudolph’s children have graduated from HCPS and one currently attends Washington-Henry Elementary School, where Rudolph is the treasurer of the school’s Parent Teacher Association.
One of Rudolph’s recent accomplishments involving the elementary school’s PTA was that they were $700 under budget, which went back into the school.
“I feel I can offer the same expertise to the school board during budget preparation,” she said.
Before Mechanicsville District Supervisor W. Canova Peterson makes a recommendation June 11 to the supervisors as to which nominee should be appointed, he will meet with each individual to get to know them better. Though Peterson can make a suggestion, the final decision is ultimately up to the seven-member board.