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School candidates square off

Both candidates for the vacant Catalpa District seat on the Culpeper County School Board agreed that teachers are the strongest asset of the school system.

“We need to hire more quality teachers,” said Nate Clancy, adding that Culpeper could use the benefits of its small-town atmosphere and agricultural landscape to lure them here.

“They work for peanuts,” Sean Askew said at Monday night’s candidate interview, recalling that some of his son’s teachers stayed after school to provide extra help.

While both men agreed on this issue, they differed on the other five questions put to them by School Board members.

Askew said that his philosophy on public education was that “education is something that sets us apart from the rest of the world.” He added that the fact that “the majority of the people in this country can read, write and do basic math is a feather in our cap.”

Clancy said he believed that getting parents more involved in their children’s education was a key to the school system’s success.

Askew stated that magnet schools might be the answer to the Culpeper school system’s monetary woes. He said that magnet schools would raise property values, which would lead to more real estate tax money and more school funding.

Clancy said he was interested in serving on the board because he was good at making hard decisions. He added that an education was very important.

“Giving somebody an education is better than giving them $5,000,” Clancy said.

Askew, a 43-year-old computer networker, said he was interested in serving because “my children received an adequate education but I don’t think it really prepared them for college.”

He said that one of his sons did well on an Advanced Placement exam but failed the course—algebra. He said he felt that the students were being taught only to pass tests.

Askew said that receiving adequate funding was the biggest challenge facing the Culpeper school system, while Clancy cited discipline as its greatest problem.

Clancy said that the first morning he took his daughter to Eastern View High School, the police were bringing a student out in handcuffs. He also said that his daughter had been bullied.

Responding to a question asking what each candidate believed would be his greatest contribution to the School Board, Askew said it was his problem-solving ability.

Clancy said that his ability to research problems and interact with people would serve the board well.

“I’m a common-sense guy,” said the 42-year-old government contractor. “I’ve got a square head on my shoulders.”

The School Board will select one of these two candidates to fill the late Rusty Jenkins’ seat during a special meeting on June 3.

That appointee will serve until a special election is held in November.

Donnie Johnston: