By Meg Hibbert, Contributing Writer
At Monday night’s Salem City Council public hearing, three applicants for two School Board Seats explained why they want to be appointed.
Current members Dr. Nancy Bradley and Teresa Sizemore-Hernandez spoke first, followed by first-time applicant Julie Parsons. Earlier this year, Sizemore-Hernandez was appointed to fill the remainder of Dr. Mike Chiglinski’s term after his death.
Bradley pointed out Salem Schools’ accomplishments during this year’s challenging times caused by COVID-19.
“Today’s students are graduating with a diploma and a plan,” she said. She noted accomplishments during her term that included Salem High School renovations, school year grants that provided four teachers as instructional coaches to help more than 600 students progress, and other highlights.
Bradley is the mother of three SHS graduates and a professor of elementary education at Virginia Tech.
Citizens Alicia Burns, Judith Painter and Diedra Stevens spoke in support of Bradley.
Sizemore-Hernandez Pointed out she is the only School Board Member with a current student in Salem Schools – a fifth grader at South Salem where she has served as PTA president. Another son is studying vocational subjects at SHS while working for the contracting firm doing the renovations, G & H Construction. Her third son is a band director in a nearby school system.
Her particular interest is vocational opportunities, she said.
“Salem has opened their eyes to vocational perspectives,” she said. Sizemore-Hernandez works as a professional relations coordinator for the state’s Disability Determination Services.
Pastor Hilton Jeffries supported Sizemore-Hernandez, pointing out how she promoted a joint project between his church and Salem elementary schools to provide needy students with book bags and name-brand shoes for the start of school.
April Chicosky also asked for Sizemore-Hernandez to be appointed to a full term, saying “She is the epitome of a servant leader.”
The third applicant, Julie Parsons, is a former Salem Schools employee who now works for Total Action for Progress (TAP). She said the “School Board needs to be more engaged with all employees of the school system, teachers, children, cafeteria workers, custodians and bus drivers.”
Mayor Renee Turk told the audience Council will consider the applicants in a timely manner, probably within a couple of weeks. The two School Board terms begin Jan. 1.
In other matters at the Sept. 13 meeting, Council:
- Discussed expanding opportunities for public comment. Members decided to have a time for the public to speak at each Council meeting, instead of the current once a month. Although members Randy Foley and Bill Jones made and seconded a motion for no time limits for citizens remarks, that vote was defeated with the mayor, Vice Mayor Jim Wallace and John Saunders voting no. Five-minute limits will remain;
- Approved the appropriation of $3.9 million to the school budget, which was approved by the School Board on Aug. 10;
- Approved a $68,300 bond for sediment and erosion control for Phase 4 of the Village at North Mill subdivision.
The meeting adjourned at 7:33 p.m. in Salem City Council Chambers.