Four apply to fill Stonewall vacancy

Posted: March 7, 2013

The Winchester Star

Stuart Wolk

WINCHESTER — Four county residents have applied to join the Frederick County School Board as the representative for the Stonewall Magisterial District.

Board Chairman Stuart Wolk announced Tuesday night that Brenda Fristoe, Wendy Knox, Paul Phillips and Frank Wright are seeking the seat formerly held by Jim Harmon, who died of cancer Feb. 4. The 58-year-old had served as the Stonewall District’s board member since January 2007.

No one spoke at a public hearing regarding the appointment.

The person appointed by the board will represent the district until Dec. 31. He or she also could run in a Nov. 5 special election to serve from Jan. 1, 2014, until Dec. 31, 2017, the remaining portion of Harmon’s term.

Fristoe is Winchester’s tax field auditor and a 2011 Frederick County commissioner of the revenue candidate. After losing a Republican Party mass meeting challenge to incumbent Ellen Murphy in June 2011, she ran as an independent in November but captured only 36.4 percent of the vote.

Wright retired as Winchester’s fire and rescue chief in 2010 after 35 years with the department. However, he recently returned on an interim basis while the city seeks a permanent replacement for Scott Cullers, who retired last month.

Steve Edwards, the district’s coordinator of policy, records management and communications, said Wednesday that Knox is a member of the School Improvement Team at Red Bud Elementary and has worked as a substitute teacher for the division.

Phillips, Edwards said, is a Federal Emergency Management Agency employee whose wife works in the county school system.

Board members plan to interview applicants in a closed session on Tuesday and to announce their choice at the March 19 meeting. The appointed member’s first meeting would be April 3.

Unforeseen delays could affect the appointment schedule. However, the Code of Virginia requires vacancies on elected school boards to be filled within 45 days of the seat becoming vacant.

Board members also discussed the health medical sciences partnership, a program that begins next year in which students from multiple school districts would receive additional training for medical careers.

Steve Straight, Frederick County’s supervisor of Career and Technical Education (CTE), told board members that Frederick, Clarke, Warren, Shenandoah and Page counties and the city of Winchester are teaming to provide additional health sciences curriculum. The goal is to make students aware of the professional opportunities available in the field.

“Health and medical sciences is one of the fast-growing fields around,” he said. “The jobs are plentiful, and they pay well.”

Virginia Employment Commission data provided at the meeting listed 20 high-demand health jobs for 2020.

The 2011 median wages for those positions range from $18,820 for home health aides to $184,110 for dentists. Seven had median wages of more than $70,000; only four paid an average of less than $30,000.

Students are familiar with doctors and nurses, Straight said, but they aren’t as aware of positions such as radiology technicians and pharmacy technicians.

“We haven’t done a good job of educating our students about all the opportunities in the medical field,” he said.

With Valley Health providing $53,000 in seed money over three years, the school districts will develop additional health science classes.

Straight said an Introduction to Health and Medical Sciences class will be added at each Frederick County high school next year, and a Home Health Aide course eventually might be added at the Dowell J. Howard Center.

Schools Superintendent David Sovine said Valley Health officials have identified workforce shortage areas, and the programs will help fill those gaps. That will provide employment opportunities for county graduates who wish to stay in the area.

Straight said he expects the program to be popular and thinks it will draw students who have not previously taken a CTE course.

Attending the meeting at the Frederick County School Board Administrative Building were Chairman Stuart Wolk, Vice-Chairman Benjamin Waterman and board members Peggy Clark, Michael Lake, John Lamanna and Jody Wall.

— Contact Vic Bradshawat