WINCHESTER — Eric Reifinger, a process improvement analyst for the human resources department at Navy Federal Credit Union, says he’s running for the Shawnee District seat on the Frederick County School Board.
Three seats on the board are up for election on Nov. 2. Reifinger is the first candidate to announce he is running.
Reifinger, 33, has yet to collect 125 signatures from qualified voters in his district needed for his name to appear on the ballot. The deadline to file paperwork to run is June 8.
Jay Foreman, who currently represents the Shawnee District on the board, recently said he would not seek re-election.
School board candidates must run as independents.
Reifinger graduated from Frederick County’s Millbrook High School in 2006 and earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Shenandoah University. He has a 1-year-old son who will attend Frederick County Public Schools when he’s old enough.
“With my son going into the public school system here in a few years, doing whatever I can to try to ensure that not only the students that are there in the public schools today are getting the best education possible, (but) that making sure future generations are getting the best education possible,” Reifinger said. “That’s the main reason I want to get into this position.”
He said he also decided to run after hearing various discussions about the school division, such as its equity initiative, come up at Frederick County Board of Supervisors meetings.
Several supervisors have been critical of the division’s implementation of an equity program.
Reifinger said he 100% supports an equity program.
Equity definitions vary, but Frederick County Public Schools has described it as “a practice of ensuring fairer outcomes, treatments and opportunities for all members of the learning community. Members of the learning community ensure equity by recognizing, respecting and attending to the diverse strengths and challenges of the students they serve.”
“I think equity is extremely important,” Reifinger said. “If we’re not providing an even playing ground or an even starting point for all students, then certain students are going to be given a leg up over others as far as their achievement, their academic excellence.”
Reifinger said he also believes schools and organizations should be the only ones to decide if they want to change their name. He mentioned this as entities across the country over the past year have decided to change or remove names with racist ties in the wake of protests following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd, a Black man.
Some supervisors have recently spoken out against Lord Fairfax Community College’s decision to seek a new name. The college’s 18th-century namesake was a slave owner who remained loyal to the British during the American Revolution.
The relationship between the School Board and the Board of Supervisors has been tense recently.
If elected, Reifinger said he would focus on communication between the two parties to help improve the relationship.
Reifinger also wants to ensure all students are set up for success after high school graduation. That isn’t limited to going to college or getting a good job, but also being able to deal with real-world challenges. This includes developing financial management skills, navigating home life and understanding the digital world.
Another focus is attracting and retaining quality teachers and staff.
He said he believes Shawnee District residents should vote for him because he ultimately wants what’s best for people.
“Whether they agree with my viewpoints or not, we’re all living on this rock together, so let’s all work together to see how we can make this a better place,” he said.