Two vie for vacant seat on county school board

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

By Hattie Francis/Contributing writer

COURTLAND—Two Franklin/Hunterdale District residents on Tuesday expressed their interest in replacing David Watkins on the Southampton County School Board. Watkins is retiring after 28 years on the board.
Candidates Lynn Bradley and Lisa Billups spoke before court-appointed School Board Selection Commission members Mark Hodges and Emerson Kitchen, who will decide which of the two gets the $5,000-a-year job. The term will begin July 1.
In related matters, school board member Florence Reynolds from the Berlin/Ivor District is unopposed for an eighth term.
Bradley, 54, of Franklin has been a resident of Southampton County since 1989. Her two children graduated from Southampton County Public Schools.
“I feel like now I can devote the time, the time that it needs to be on the school board,” Bradley said. “I have always been a strong advocate of Southampton County Schools. I have been with the PTA.”
Bradley co-founded the PTA at the former Hunterdale Elementary School and Southampton County PTA Council.
“When my girls graduated, I kind of stepped back from everything for a while, and when I saw that David Watkins was retiring, I talked to my husband and decided this is something I wanted to become a part of again,” she said.
Billups, 42, of Black Creek has two daughters in the school system. Billups’ youngest daughter was a member of the first class to graduate from newly built Riverdale Elementary.
“Lisa has been a very, very active part of the county since her first child enrolled in kindergarten,” said current board member and Vice Chairman Roberta Naranjo, who spoke in support of Billups. “She was a constant parent through her children’s attendance at Hunterdale and then Riverdale. She totally reorganized the youth group at St. Jude’s (Catholic Church), and it went from five to over 20 children.”
Billups also reorganized the Hunterdale PTA that Bradley helped create when Riverdale Elementary was completed.
“I just feel like right now in my life, with both my children in school, I’m only working part-time, and I also have time to be where I’m needed,” Billups said. “To be where you need to listen and to watch, and to see the kids excel in the different things that they’re loving to do, whether it be sports or academics, because we have so many of both.”
“We might have someone that’s a real scholar, or a real athlete, and they both need to know they are very important and school is an important place to be,” she added. “We need to make them want to be in school, and to be happy to be there. I just feel like we can all work together and make it happen.”
Billups was a substitute teacher at Riverdale and Hunterdale.
“I feel like a lot of parents don’t know what teachers go through, and substitute teaching, and working at the school, you just know what the teachers are going through,” she said.
Reynolds is chairwoman of the school board’s disciplinary committee.
“I’ve come back time and time again because I like what I’m doing,” she said. “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a member of the Southampton County School Board, and to see the system grow, as it has done, it gives me joy.”
“I enjoy being a part of the future because when you work with those children you are a part of the future,” Reynolds added.
Southampton County Public Schools is among 24 of Virginia’s 134 school districts where voters do not choose school board members.