Municipal elections in Manassas on Nov. 6 include several school board seats.
Manassas City School Board Chairman Sanford Williams and board members Tim Demeria and Peter O’Hanlon are seeking re-election this November. Athene Bell and Kenneth Nixon are also vying for one of the three seats.
Williams, who is a lawyer, is seeking his third term.
“I think education is a social justice issue of our time and it’s imperative all kids have access to an education for them to prosper and reach their potential,” Williams said.
The school board hired Kevin Newman as superintendent in May and he started in July.
“I’d like to work with the superintendent and staff to make our school system better than before,” Williams said.
Williams said he’d like to help increase the division’s SOL test scores, especially among minority students.
“The end goal is for every child who graduates from Manassas public schools to pursue their dreams in whatever area, whether it’s vocation school, college or the armed forces,” Williams said.
Demeria, who is a sod farmer, is seeking his fourth term on the school board.
“I believe we have a really good board and I’d like to keep the momentum going,” Demeria said. “Even after 12 years, I have a lot to add, and now more than ever I am a better board member with the experience that I have.”
Demeria said he’d like to focus on increasing SOL test results and on making sure students are well-rounded.
“The most important thing is for students to come out of the school system ready for the next adventure and are good citizens,” Demeria said.
O’Hanlon, who has served on the school board for more than a year and a half to finish an unexpired term, is seeking re-election because he feels that he can improve the quality of education. O’Hanlon is a retired auditor with the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General.
“I know we put a lot of responsibilities on our teachers; we need to do a better job to support them and ensure that students are better behaved in class,” O’Hanlon said.
He said he’d like to continue improving the division to help recruit and retain teachers.
“One of the things I’d like for us to become is a premier workplace, so we have people who seek us out as a workplace,” O’Hanlon said.
Bell is retired from the school division after working as a teacher for 22 years and then as a K-12 English/Language Arts specialist for 13 years. During her time as a specialist, she earned her doctorate in education with a literacy concentration.
“I hope I would be a voice for teachers. That’s extremely important,” Bell said. “I also hope that I could address professional development that really takes a look at what we need.”
Bell said she would advocate for Spanish classes for teachers and she also would like to develop programs to increase parental engagement.
“I think we need to think about those kinds of things so we can reach out to our parents,” Bell said.
Nixon, who is an operation manager for Vector Security Networks, said he’d like to focus on increasing skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, in schools.
“For our children to succeed in this new information-based society, our students need to develop capability in STEM to levels much beyond what was acceptable in the past,” Nixon said.
He is a member on the Regional Jail Board in Prince William and Manassas and also on the Community Criminal Justice Board for Prince William County.
Nixon said that his experience would help him advocate for support for students such as having mental health counselors instead of school resource officers.