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Rockingham County candidates for school board face off in Wednesday debate

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 10:56 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - One seat on the Rockingham County School Board is up for grabs in District 3 in the state’s general election.

On Wednesday night in the Spotswood High School auditorium, voters in Rockingham County had the opportunity to learn about the three candidates running: Matt Cross, Hilary Irons, and Lori Mier.

The candidates were asked questions by the Spotswood Youth in Government Club. Questions ranged in topics from addressing overcrowding at some county schools, to how they would ensure a safe, ethical environment for all students.

Another hot topic was Rockingham County Public School’s COVID-19 policies and if the school community should be involved in making them.

“If the community’s voice is going to harm another person or another student, then I’m going to listen to the reasoning for which will keep us all safe in the community,” Mier said.

“I would make it optional. I would make it optional for the parents, for their kids, and for teachers,” Cross said. “If teachers want to wear a mask, then they should, or if they don’t want to wear a mask, then they should have that right as well. I believe that parents know best.”

“I think once everyone has had the opportunity to be vaccinated, we can maybe consider saying goodbye to masks,” Irons said. “That would be my rule because right now five to 11-year-olds don’t have that, and when they do, I’d like to see the policies change.”

Another topic asked if candidates are in support of removing higher-level math courses offered to advanced learners at middle and high schools.

“If we take away higher math classes for accelerated learners in the name of ‘equity,’ [for] fairness and inclusiveness, then we’re not being fair to students who are gifted, accelerated learners and want to go further in math,” Cross said. “We are actually pulling them down to a level that makes them not able to accelerate.”

“Of course we want the students that are successful to have access to those classes, but we also need to make sure are gaining ground in basic skills. Our efforts need to be focused on building a foundation,” Irons said. “Students in lower-level classes of course need something to aspire to, so it’s a complicated answer but I am for keeping upper-level math access.”

Unlike Cross and Irons, Mier is in support of removing those courses.

“I think that it would be a good idea if we spent more time on the deep level math understanding and other subjects so that everyone has a strong foundation,” Mier said. “We should actively be working to enroll all students in AP courses, which would need more support for our teachers and students to do so.”

There is one seat up for grabs in District 1. According to the Department of Elections, Jackie Lohr is the candidate running for this seat.

Election Day is Nov. 2.

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