A newcomer will be elected Tuesday to the Arlington School Board.
The race pits Monique O’Grady, who defeated an incumbent in a spring Democratic Party caucus, against Alison Dough and Mike Webb.
Arlington boasts perennially strong schools, but each candidate identified areas, including managing a growing student population and improving education for special needs students, that they would look to enhance if elected. Members of the five-person School Board serve four-year terms.
O’Grady, a first-time candidate who describes herself as a parent activist, was previously involved in strategic planning for the nearly 27,000-student school district and is attuned to its needs, she said. Her involvement, she said, makes her well equipped to help the district grapple with issues such as a growing student population.
“I’m energized to serve Arlington’s children and our wonderful teachers, who do a great job,” the 49-year-old said.
She also noted the importance of making sure that schools remain diverse and embrace multiculturalism. If elected, she said she plans to examine changes that would allow students who choose a pre-K program in one community to continue their education in that community, as opposed to returning to their neighborhood.
Dough, 42, said she was motivated to run after she encountered communication difficulties with school board members and the superintendent several years ago. Dough, who has a son with special needs, has made ensuring inclusion for students in special education a focal point of her campaign.
As the mother of two children in elementary school and another still in diapers, Dough said she can lend a perspective school board members with older children may lack.
“I have a vested interest in the here and now,” she said.
Mike Webb, who ran unsuccessfully for Virginia’s 8th District congressional seat last year, said that he would look to close achievement gaps in the school district and that introducing more charter schools is a way to accomplish that.
Webb, 51, is also sharply opposed to renaming Washington-Lee High School. Community members pressed the school board in August to change the name after clashes between white supremacists and counterprotesters turned violent in Charlottesville.
Name-change requests should be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, Webb said, but he said it is unnecessary to rename Washington-Lee High.
“They literally have no reason why they have to change that name,” he said.
Webb drew attention during his run for Congress when he shared an image posted to his Facebook page that included Web browser tabs linking to pornography websites.
Webb said last week he intentionally posted those browser tabs to attract attention to a post he made on Facebook. “People are going to react to porn tabs,” he said.