An Independence Day Message from Richard Kennedy

As we celebrate Independence Day, I thought I would share more of my thoughts about something we all hold dear, something that keeps our community strong and vibrant and offers hope for a brighter future: the education of our young people. As I mentioned in my last communication, I sat down recently with Dr. David Sovine, Superintendent of Frederick County Public Schools, to discuss the needs of our students, teachers and staff. I mentioned the importance of keeping teacher salaries competitive, so we don’t lose our excellent teachers to other school districts in northern Virginia.

Dr. Sovine and I also discussed funding for the construction of new schools and the renovation of older schools. Recently, some members of the Board of Supervisors have taken issue with the amount of renovation funds designated for James Wood High School. If the Board had had the foresight to originally build the school with materials and technology that had a longer functional life, we would not be spending money today to correct those construction concerns. Consider Frederick County Middle School – built six years ago with many innovations and the foresight to use a geothermal system for power requirements, floor construction designed for low maintenance, and a design that creates an environment for creative learning. Even after 50 years, FCMS will not require nearly as much renovation as James Wood, saving future capital funding.

Another area of concern I discussed with Dr. Sovine is the actions by some current Supervisors and candidates for the Board who want to force a review of the current school budget by line item – even going so far as to force approval for changes between line items, should the administration see the need to shift money within the approved budget. Simply put, the Board of Supervisors has no authority to do this. It is an overreach on the responsibilities of a duly elected School Board.

Equity is another hot button topic in Frederick County. FCPS recently instituted a staff training program utilizing a number of resources by the Virginia Department of Education for professional development training (https://www.doe.virginia.gov/edequityva/navigating-equity-book.pdf). As explained by Steve Edwards, FCPS Coordinator of Policy and Communications, “the goal of the division’s equity program is to grow cultural and social empathy within the school division and to ensure all students have access to rigorous learning experiences.” Let me be clear that, despite what some have asserted, this training is for staff and is not included in curriculum for students.

Recently, I was gratified to see the School Board recognize the vision and achievements of Dr. Sovine, extending his contract to 2025. We are on a path for educational excellence in Frederick County, and we cannot allow the Board of Supervisors to dismiss the achievements of Dr. Sovine and his team!

I understand that we have different priorities for our community, but we should all be able to agree that a quality education for our children – for all of our children – is vital for the future. I hope you will support my campaign for a seat on the Frederick County Board of Supervisors. As the Educational Candidate in the Shawnee District, I need your financial support (CLICK HERE), as well as the energies of volunteers (CLICK HERE) to help get our message to the voters.

PS:  My thanks, on this special day, to those who have fought to keep our country free, and to the dedicated teachers who have committed themselves to giving our children a brighter future.

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