GAINESBORO — Of the eight Frederick County School Board candidates, 68-year-old Michael Lake is the only incumbent seeking election.
Lake has represented the Gainesboro District for two four-year terms. He is seeking a third term on Nov. 5, when four of the board’s seven seats will be up for grabs.
Lake, who retired from the CIA after 32 years, is being challenged for the Gainesboro seat by Susan Shick, an administrative assistant at Barrett Machine Inc. This is the first time he has faced a challenger.
“Experience matters” is the key message on Lake’s campaign pamphlet.
“People do not know the extent of how a school division runs, the duty of a School Board member,” Lake said in an interview. He estimates that board members dedicate about eight hours a week to the position.
If elected, the most important issues to Lake are keeping students safe, retaining teachers, keeping county schools fully accredited, maintaining transparency and promoting a good relationship between the School Board and the Frederick County Board of Supervisors. He also is passionate about promoting the school division’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) and dual enrollment programs.
Lake said he wants to stay on the board to continue “the good work” of Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent David Sovine.
While there isn’t much he wants to change about the school division, he does want the board to continue to address student overcrowding and the teacher shortage, which is a national issue. Both matters, he said, are caused by factors outside of the division’s control.
“With overcrowded schools, we didn’t create that. Society created that,” Lake said.
The school division is in the process of building its 12th elementary school and replacing the existing Robert E. Aylor Middle School with a new school.
He said the teacher shortage is fueled, in part, by college students not pursuing the profession and salaries that aren’t competitive with neighboring school districts or with other professions.
Lake is a 1969 graduate of Frederick County’s James Wood High School, where he coached football for six years. He and his wife Helen have a daughter who is a teacher in Prince William County and a grandson who is a student at Longwood University. Lake’s niece attends Sherando High School in the county.
He said he tries to reach out to his constituents by attending community events and meetings. He said he asks them if they have children in the schools and if they like the division.
“I’m always trying to engage people,” Lake said.
Shick has said in previous interviews that she doesn’t think the School Board has enough “working-class” representation, which she says she can offer.
“I did my 32 years,” Lake said in response to Shick’s comment. “I’ll take my career and call myself a working-class person.”
He added that being retired gives him time devote to the position.
“It’s rewarding,” he said about serving on the School Board.
Also running for the School Board are:
Brian Hester and David Stegmaier for the at-large seat
James G. “Jimmy” Smith and Brandon H. Monk for the Back Creek District seat
Bryan Nuri and Bradley Comstock for the Opequon District seat
Frederick County School Board members are paid an annual salary of $5,700.