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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Auker will seek school board seat

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin staff writer

Retired teacher Thomas “Tom” Auker is seeking the Blackberry District seat on the Henry County School Board in the Nov. 5 election.

Auker and Mike Hooper, a Henry County Sheriff’s Deputy, are vying for the post that became vacant when incumbent Rudy Law said he would not seek reelection.

In a release announcing his candidacy, Auker said his focus is on improving the school division, graduation rates and student safety.

“It is important that every school has a resource officer,” Auker said in the release.

Currently, there are four School Resource Officers (SROs). The school board asked the county for increased funds of $266,343, or 1.61 percent in the fiscal 14 budget — in part to add three SROs to the county’s 10 elementary schools: Axton, Mount Olivet, Collinsville Primary and John Redd schools; another to cover Drewry Mason, Rich Acres and Carver; and a third one assigned to Stanleytown, Campbell Court and Sanville.

The Henry County Board of Supervisors approved level funding of $16,577,895 for the school division.

Because the division received level funding, school officials determined that funding was not sufficient to add the additional positions.

However, Auker said his proposal was based on using retired police officers as SROs and seeking grants for the associated costs.

“When our teachers and students feel secure, then our education system will be conducive to learning at a greater rate,” he said in the release.

As a retired teacher, Auker said he feels “that I am aware of the needs to continue to keep pace with the educational trends that are before the school system. The knowledge that I have as a teacher and concern for the students and teachers will be helpful in creating a better system.”

Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton “is a fine leader of the system, and I want to be able to help him achieve his goals to make” the county school division “even better,” Auker wrote.

He also stated that he will be accessible “to the people that I serve and also to every member of the board, working closely with each other so that the system continues to be strong.”

Because he has grandchildren in the county school division, Auker said he has a “vested interest in the future” of the division, and hopes to see “greater opportunities” for his grandchildren.

Expanded opportunities and continued strides in education also will “help promote the area in attracting business and help to stabilize the interest and attraction for people to move and start families in this area,” Auker said.

His 20-year tenure in the division was a “privilege, and the joy that I gained from being a teacher, I want to give back so that I can help make the system even better for all concerned,” Auker wrote.

“Working with people and trying to work out a compromise would be one of my strong suits, knowing how to deal in various situations is necessary to make the system richer,” he wrote. “As a member of the board, I would bring an understanding of the concerns of students and staff in hearing and listening to their ideas.”


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