Two spots will be available on the Martinsville School Board, and Martinsville City Council will interview candidates on June 11 — the night when anyone interested must present his or her name.
City Council will hold a public hearing during its regular meeting to hear from city residents interested in being appointed to replace board chair Joan Montgomery and term concluded by board member Eric Hruza.
The other school board members are Sammy Redd, Tonya Jones and Donna Dillard.
Montgomery, a retired principal and administrator of city schools, resigned effective Friday, because she is moving to the county, making her ineligible to continue to serve, she wrote in an email. She had completed nearly one year of her second term.
Hruza is the managing director and one of the owners of A2Speed, a local automotive performance company. Originally from Denver, Colo., he has lived in Martinsville since 1999.
Unlike in many localities — such as Henry County — where school boards are elected by voters, the Martinsville School Board is appointed by the council. Board members can serve three consecutive terms, totaling 9 years, before they have to wait at least 3 years to seek reappointment.
The school board chooses a chair from its members. Dillard is the vice-chair.
Under state law, when a school board seat comes open, the council must hold a public hearing to hear from people interested in the seat or someone expressing interest on the behalf of a resident. Council members voted Tuesday to have that hearing on June 11 and to interview candidates the same night.
“I think the biggest issue for the board going forward will be what city council decides about reversion and if not reversion, will the [school] divisions combine,” Montgomery wrote in an email on Friday. “All indications are that all our schools will be fully accredited this year, so those issues are off the table.
"Today is my last day on the board, and you always hope, with any job, that you left it better than when you started.”
Hruza said he has not decided whether he would want to serve another term, but he said he feels that he is “tending in that direction.”
He said that serving on the school board requires “probably more time involved than most people realize, until they actually get on the board.”
The issues facing the school board in upcoming years will be different than the ones it faced during the three years he has been on it, he said.
When he joined the board in 2016, Hruza said, the major concerns were accreditation and the issues related to it.
“It was important to align the day-to-day leadership with the goals of the city council and school board, and I believe that we have been able to accomplish that over the last three years,” he said. “The record that [Superintendent] Dr. [Zeb] Talley has in terms of attaining accreditation” is solid.
Numbers aren’t in to determine if the schools will continue to be fully accredited going into the next school year, he said, “but I’m confident that we’re going to be in good shape.”
There have been other improvements during the past three years, he said, including the graduation rate, SOL scores and disciplinary matters, particularly in the middle school and high school.
Looking ahead, “managing the shrinking budget is a huge concern, and finding creative ways to still provide the exceptional level of quality in terms of education we enjoyed in the past few years. Going forward, I’m confident that with Dr. Talley’s leadership,” that will continue.
“Generally speaking, the Martinsville city schools are dramatically improved,” Hruza said. “The opportunities that the student body in the city of Martinsville has,” including Governor’s School, ACE and extracurricular activities such as marching band and HOSA, enrich students’ learning experiences.
“I really believe in the new motto and mission statement: We are providing excellent education by focusing on one student at a time,” he said.
A benefit of the size of the district is “the ability to really be able to focus on the needs of each student. … It’s the kind of educational experience that, in my opinion, is only available in a small town but highly dedicated educational system like we have in Martinsville city, and the results speak for themselves.”
Martinsville Mayor Kathy Lawson wrote in an email that “school board is a commitment to the students and school administration. You must be willing to give the time not only for the school board meetings and functions but also to support the activities of the schools. There are also meetings for the school board members with other school board members statewide that they are encouraged to attend.”
When city council members interview candidates, they will want to know why an individiual wants to serve, what he or she would bring to the table that would make a good representative and and would that person have enough time to fulfill the duties of the role, she said.