Eight people are vying for one seat on Hanover County’s School Board.
The Mechanicsville District seat on the seven-member board expires June 30. Hanover is one of 16 localities in Virginia that appoints its School Board members. There’s no public election; rather, board members are appointed by the county’s Board of Supervisors to four-year, staggered terms. The Mechanicsville Supervisor is W. Canova Peterson.
Each individual publicly nominated themselves at the Supervisors’ April 27 board meeting, or were nominated by someone else. A ninth person, Chris Cray, was nominated by another individual at the meeting, though Cray has since declined the nomination.
Each candidate will be interviewed by Peterson, and the full Board of Supervisors will vote on the appointment at its May 25 meeting.
The Times-Dispatch asked each candidate a series of questions. Their responses began last Sunday and are running daily. Today’s candidate is Jerry E. McCormick Jr.
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WHO: Jerry E. McCormick Jr. has a business administration degree from James Madison University and he’s spent 25 years in the financial services industry. He’s married with two children in Hanover schools.
QUESTION: What compelled you to nominate yourself? What qualities would you bring to the Hanover County School Board?
MCCORMICK: I felt compelled … because of what I’ve witnessed over the last two or three years. When my wife and I attended our first school board meeting, the atmosphere felt more inviting. A former board member Norman Sulser welcomed us and thanked us for attending. We’ve moved from that to board members threatening attendees with removal. The current atmosphere feels like ‘us’ versus ‘them’ instead of ‘we.’ I wouldn’t presume to say one person will change the current atmosphere, but it could be a start.
QUESTION: What are the most pressing issues or challenges facing Hanover County schools? How would you address them?
MCCORMICK: It’s clear that our students and parents have been forced to undergo a lot of changes over the last few years due to the pandemic. We’re also staring at a potential change in the start and end times of the school year. We need to get back to a sense of stability … while remaining flexible to meet the demands of the day. Transparency and proper parental engagement is the key. No policy will satisfy everyone, but we need to regain the trust of the community. Education is a commodity like many other things. If we don’t meet the needs, parents will look elsewhere — homeschooling, private sector or other school systems. We must be proper stewards of the public’s trust.
In addressing issues, I think back to what I’ve heard during public comment periods. Before debates about in-person or remote learning, masks or no masks, I recall on several occasions teachers or their spouses coming before the board and advising of injuries suffered by teachers in the classroom. No teacher should be afraid to come to work. We especially need to make sure our special education teachers are supported and heard. Special education students are heavily dependent on the relationships with their teachers and aides. To give these students the best education, we must support their teachers by ensuring we have proper protocols in place.