Albemarle County School Board candidate Julian Waters has a front-row seat to local education issues. He attends Western Albemarle High School.
As a minor— Waters turns 18 in September — he also has to rely on friends and family to legally collect the 125 petition signatures that will put him on the general election ballot for the board’s Samuel Miller District seat.
Waters has filed a declaration of candidacy, statement of economic interest and a statement of candidate qualification, said Albemarle County Registrar Jake Washburn. Petition signatures are due by June 13.
If elected, Waters said, he would like to focus on giving teachers more time to plan, engage with students and design their curricula, and increase students’ connection with course material.
“As a student, I have spent 12 or 13 years in the public education system in Albemarle County, and as a student I have struggled; I do not make a secret of that,” he said. “The current curricula do not truly allow students and teachers to explore how they want to engage with each other and engage with the course content.”
Relieving the burden of paperwork — such as self-evaluations — from teachers could increase time they have to spend with students, he said.
“On a very basic level, I want to give students the option, I want to give teachers the option, to really catapult their curriculum and their course structure within the classroom to something that they feel is more engaging for the students,” he said.
Incumbent School Board member Graham Paige is a retired science teacher who worked for 23 out of 30 years in education at Western Albemarle High School. He took office in 2015 after winning a special election to replace Eric Strucko, who moved out of state.
Paige said his re-election campaign will focus on continuing and expanding the Equity and Access initiative outlined in Superintendent Pam Moran’s budget request.
The $1.2 million initiative focuses on reaching out to low-income students and students who are still learning English in the county’s urban-ring schools. Paige would like to see the initiative expanded to the county’s rural schools.
“I liked the overlying goal of this budget of ‘all means all,’” Paige said. “To me, that is an important goal for the county schools … we are meeting the goals of most of our students, but not all of them.”
Paige said he also would advocate to increase salaries for division teachers and staff.
“We are going to have to come up with something to make sure that our salaries are competitive,” he said. “It is not something that can be swept under the carpet. We have to make sure that our wages are competitive.”
Paige has not yet turned in paperwork formally declaring his candidacy, Washburn said. Candidates technically have until June 13 to turn in their petitions and other documents, but they may not raise money until they have submitted a statement of economic interest, Washburn said.
Albemarle County School Board Chairwoman Kate Acuff, of the Jack Jouett District, and Rio District board member Pam Moynihan are also up for election this year. Neither has said whether they will seek another term.
While School Board elections are nonpartisan and each candidate has to independently qualify to be on the ballot, races for Albemarle supervisor can have nominees from local political parties. Three of the six supervisor seats will be on the fall ballot.
Supervisor Brad Sheffield, a Democrat, said last week that he will not seek another term representing the Rio District. Fellow Democrat Liz Palmer has said she will seek another term representing the Samuel Miller District. Independent Diantha McKeel, of the Jack Jouett District, has not yet declared her decision.
The general election is Nov. 7.