School board sees changesMilner and Schandevel are in; Barrett out
In a typical election year, the Haywood County Board of Education race isn't full of surprises — but this year was by no means typical. As of press time, results were leaning toward incumbent Ann Barrett being unseated and Lynn Milner and Rhonda Cole Schandevel becoming first-time members. Other incumbents Larry Harbin and Jim Harley Francis III maintained their seats — but faced stiff competition. Chuck Francis, board chair, and Crabtree-Ironduff seat holder Bob Morris were the only ones running without opposition.
In the recent past, most incumbents have run unopposed for school board, but this year's election cycle was a whole new ball game, with eight candidates running for just four seats.
In the Beaverdam district, incumbent Harbin faced challengers Schandevel and Tom Long. In a recent candidate survey for The Mountaineer, Harbin, an employee at Haywood Builders Supply, wrote he felt "blessed" to have been on the board three years and that his biggest concerns for local schools included maintaining quality while facing continuing budget cuts and staying current with modern technology.
Schandevel, a dental hygienist, wrote that she wanted to give back to the school system that gave so much to her special-needs son, Canie. Her top concerns included keeping up standards in the face of budget cuts, making sure the schools were involved in the community and seeing that schools have the needed resources to implement the state-mandated Common Core Curriculum.
Long, a business owner and father of three school-aged children, wrote of his involvement in school and community activities. His top concerns included allowing teachers to give more input to administrators, finding the best uses for available funds and encouraging businesses and the community to get involved in schools.
The field was even more competitive in the Waynesville district, where incumbents Barrett and Jim Harley Francis squared off against challengers Milner and Vergil Daughtery IV. In her candidate survey, Barrett, a four-year member, spoke highly of her time on the board and also of her passion for children with disabilities. Her biggest concern was over school funding, as she sees public school as vital.
Jim Harley Francis, an insurance agent, wrote of his positive experience in Haywood County Schools and his young daughters currently in the system. His top concerns included regaining more local control from the legislature over local schools, dealing with budget cuts and easing the Common Core Curriculum change with needed resources.
Milner, a retired principal and teacher for Haywood County Schools, touted her 33 years of experience working in the school system. She wrote of being willing to lobby legislators to try to ease budget cuts, encouraging student success and being a general advocate for local schools.
Daughtery, a games dealer and Iraqi Freedom vet, wrote that he wanted to contribute his experience having worked with public and home schools. His top concerns included getting students involved in the community, teaching children about American government and encouraging students to learn critical thinking skills.
Benhart, a retired postal worker and substitute teacher, wrote that she wanted to bring positive energy to the school board and work to build bridges there. Her top concerns included encouraging literacy, increasing communication between teachers and parents, and encouraging vocational education for students who are not college bound.
Terms on the board of education last four years. Members not up for election this term included Steven Kirkpatrick, Jimmy Rogers, Walter Leatherwood and Larry Henson.