Two to vie for District 1 school board seat

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By John Barnhart

    Joy Wright, the two term incumbent who currently holds the District 1 school board seat, won't be in this year's election.

    "When I originally took the seat, I said that I would only serve two terms," she said. "I think eight years is enough."
    Wright said that this wraps up 40 years of involvement in public education. Wright worked for 32 years, first as a teacher and later in a central office position. She retired from Roanoke County Public Schools prior to running for Bedford County's School Board.
    Actually, she isn't totally out of the world of education yet. She still serves as a supervisor for student teachers from Old Dominion University (ODU), something she has done for the past three years. This tends to be sporadic as ODU is located in Norfolk, so this area tends to get few student teachers from that university.
    Wright expects developing the next school budget to be a rather stressful affair, and she doesn't expect that to change for another two or three years. She said that the School Board, however, will have a different flavor with at least two new faces. Along with Wright, Shirley McCabe, who represents District 6, has announced that she will not seek reelection.
    "They may have newer ideas, different ideas," she said
    Two candidates are seeking to replace Wright: Sue Pratt and Richard Downey. Wright encouraged Downey to run and has endorsed him.
    Downey said that he is running because Wright chose not to seek reelection, and was encouraged by others to toss his hat in the ring.
    He said he has several concerns. One is the relationship between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors during budget discussions this past year.
    "We need to work to establish a more harmonious relationship with the Board of Supervisors," he said.
    Downey said that he is also concerned that teacher pay is falling farther behind what other localities pay. He wants to work to correct that.
    "It's been several years now since they received adequate pay raises," Downey said.
    Class sizes are another concern. Downey said that he doesn't want to see them get so high that they are unmanageable, especially at the elementary school level.