By Neil Haggerty and Sara J. Korash-Schiff
An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Kevin Brooks advocates long-range education planning that would include looking into school consolidation. Brooks says consideration of school consolidation is not a part of his idea for a long-range plan. The following story has been corrected.
Voters elected two new members to the Rockbridge County School Board by commanding margins.
Kevin Brooks of the South River District defeated Jason Harris, also by an 18 percent margin.
The contest for the two seats was marked by debate over school consolidation.
About two decades ago, the county merged its high schools into one, which also serves students from Lexington.
This year, the county consolidated its two middle schools into a newly expanded Maury River Middle School.
And there have been continued discussions of merging the county’s schools with the rest of the Lexington city schools and the Buena Vista schools.
Ben Swisher’s decision to leave the school board to run for the Kerrs Creek Board of Supervisors seat left his seat on the school board open.
The South River District seat is being vacated by Warren Schmidt, who was appointed to the board when a previously elected member moved out of the district. Schmidt did not run for a new term.
Strong, 69, the winner in the race for the Kerrs Creek seat, said she opposes any school consolidation. She thinks the county should keep as many small schools open as possible. She said she doesn’t want children to have to endure long bus rides because the county closed a school close to their homes.
Strong received support from the Rockbridge Area Republican Committee, which is chaired by her sister, Cher McCoy. She also reached out to the Rockbridge Tea Party in her campaign.
Brooks, 51, the winner in the South River District, has been an advocate in the school system since he fought for the closing of Effinger Elementary School.
He said he doesn’t think Lexington residents are contributing enough money to Rockbridge County High School. He also thinks the county spent too much on the Maury River Middle School consolidation.
Brooks advocates adopting a better long-term education plan to improve academic and vocational and technical programs.
He thinks county residents deserve someone who has been an advocate in the school system on their school board.
Brooks was raised in Newport News, but graduated from Virginia Military Institute. He is a truck farmer in the county.