By Liza Moore
Four candidates are running for three positions on the Buena Vista School Board. John Butler is the only candidate who is not running as an incumbent. The other three candidates have served on the board for many years.
John Butler, 72, has lived in Buena Vista for the past 13 years and works part time for the transportation department for Rockbridge County Public Schools.
Butler attended Portland State University for a year before being drafted to the Vietnam War and later worked at IBM.
Two years ago, Butler worked as the transportation director for Buena Vista Public Schools and he is also a former coach at Parry McCluer High School.
In 2016, Butler filed an assault charge against John Keeler, Buena Vista’s school superintendent, after a heated exchange during a Buena Vista transportation department meeting. The misdemeanor charges were later dismissed by Judge Gordon Saunders.
Despite running against three seated school board members, Butler is not doing any formal campaigning. Instead, he said he campaigns through conversations he has with the people he interacts with throughout the day.
“Buena Vista does a great job supporting sports teams, but needs to work on their support for academics,” he said. “Education is the most important thing parents can help their children with.”
Two of Butler’s 12 children are currently students in Buena Vista Schools and three have graduated from Parry McCluer High School
He said he believes strongly in strengthening literacy and reading skills and he also believes dual enrollment, which are college credit courses taken during high school, and technical education are equally important to the Buena Vista school system.
“We, as a school board, need to educate,” Butler said.
Brooke Baker, 42, is running for re-election on the Buena Vista School Board. She has served as a board member for the past five years and is currently the chair.
Baker was born and raised in Buena Vista and is a graduate of Parry McCluer High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Mary Baldwin University and her nursing diploma from Stonewall Jackson School of Practical Nursing.
She is a resource utilization group auditor for EXL, an operations management and analytics company, and has worked as a licensed practical nurse for 17 years.
Baker said she is proud to have initiated a school safety program in the schools called A.L.I.C.E., which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.
“Having a safe environment for our students and staff is a top priority,” she said. Baker also supports maintaining a positive relationship between the city and school system as well as providing the means for academic success.
“I feel I have been a very outspoken advocate for our students and staff,” Baker said.
Teresa Ellison, 67, is running for re-election for the Buena Vista School Board. She has served on the school board since 2008.
Ellison retired 15 years ago after teaching elementary school and serving as the director of instruction for Buena Vista Public Schools. She began teaching in Buena Vista City Schools in 1974.
Ellison now teaches part time at Alleghany High School. This fall marked her 16th year as a part-time reading specialist, English Language teacher, and literacy coach.
She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Virginia Tech and later received her Master of Education as a reading specialist from the University of Virginia.
Ellison said she is running for re-election to “keep the communication lines open as we all work as advocates for Buena Vista’s future.”
The future of the school division is one of issues Ellison finds most important to the school board. “The future of our city depends on the decisions we make today,” she said.
Wayne Flint, 79, is running for re-election for the Buena Vista School Board. Flint has served on the board for 12 years and chairs the School Board finance committee.
Flint was principal at Parry McCluer High School for 21 years and served as assistant principal for five years. He is now retired and owns Doc.com, a computer repair company.
Flint earned his bachelor’s degree in education from Virginia Tech and went on to work for a military intelligence company and in the rubber industry.
When asked why he returned to work in the school system, Flint said it was because “he got homesick every time he passed a school bus.”
Flint said the top issues facing the schools are always money and security.
“So many things need work,” he said.
Flint believes there needs to be competitive salaries for teachers in order to ensure students receive a strong education.
The Buena Vista native said he is running for re-election “to continue the work [the school board] has already accomplished.”