Oberg running for Albemarle County School Board

David Oberg, an attorney with the Charlottesville-based firm Jones & Green, is running for the White Hall District seat on the Albemarle County School Board.

Oberg, 45, who formerly directed Blue Ridge UniServe — an organization that aims to support local education associations — made the announcement Tuesday at Claudius Crozet Park.

“If I’m elected, I will do the absolute best I can to represent the needs of our county, the needs of our kids and the needs of our teachers,” Oberg said. “I’ve worked pretty much my entire life on public education, and if elected I promise you I will be tireless.”

Topping Oberg’s list of key issues is the role high-stakes standardized testing plays in public schools.

“There are companies that are making a lot of money by getting our kids to take tests that hurt the schools, our teachers and our kids,” Oberg said. “Those tests have a role, [which is] to assist the teachers in helping individual children learn, but that’s not how they’re being used at this point.”

Despite that position, however, Oberg said testing shouldn’t be abandoned.

“My anxiety is not about the tests themselves, but how they’re being used,” Oberg said. “You can’t measure children’s’ abilities by a multiple choice, standardized test; they’re a tool to be used, not a defining element.”

In addition to how students are assessed, Oberg stressed the importance of how the youngest students are prepared.

“Eventually, we’re going to have to have a universal pre-K program,” Oberg said. “It has to be a long-term goal, because some of our kids are not being prepared for kindergarten, and our teachers will tell you that.”

Worlay Adesina, a science teacher at Western Albemarle High School, said he has worked with Oberg and the Board of Supervisors to create policy that aligns with student programming.

“His experience as a lawyer and someone who has worked with the Virginia Education Association before makes him the right person for this job,” Adesina said.

Vicki Jones, a parent of students at Henley Middle School and Crozet Elementary, agreed.

“He was legal counsel for the Virginia Education Association, so he knows about teachers’ rights and can think about things from a legal perspective,” Jones said. “That’s a level of expertise that you can’t always bring just as a general citizen.”

Amy Turner, a parent of students at Henley Middle School and Brownsville Elementary, praised Oberg’s character.

“He’s very intelligent … and he’s passionate about his beliefs, and that speaks loudly to me,” she said.

Five of Albemarle’s seven School Board seats are up for election in November. Board members Jason Buyaki and Steve Koleszar, who represent the Rivanna and Scottsville districts, respectively, have both announced their intentions to run. As of Tuesday, only Koleszar and Oberg had submitted paperwork.

Barbara Massie Mouly, who represents the White Hall District, has announced that she will not seek re-election.

At-large member Ned Gallaway, who is serving his second term on the board, announced recently that he is not seeking re-election because he is running for the 17th District state Senate seat.

A fifth seat on the board is currently vacant. Eric Strucko, who represented the Samuel Miller District, resigned his seat last month to accept a position with Pennsylvania State University.

The six remaining board members will make an interim appointment by June 15. The deadline to apply to be appointed to the vacant seat is 5 p.m. May 26.

In November, voters will have the opportunity to participate in a special election to determine who will finish Strucko’s term, which ends on Dec. 31, 2017.

In Charlottesville, four seats on the School Board are up for election.

Amy Laufer, the board’s chairwoman, and Jennifer McKeever have both announced their intentions to seek re-election.

Willa Neale announced last month that she will not seek another term, while board member Colette Blount remains undecided.

To run for school board, potential candidates must live in the district and produce 125 petition signatures from voters in their district.

Candidates must submit their paperwork by June 9.