TODAY'S NEWS

Bailey makes bid for school board chairman

Page News and Courier

LURAY ― The Page County School Board will see a shift in leadership in January, when a new chairman takes the helm.

District 1 school board member Randy Bailey announced last week his bid for the key seat. Dr. Morgan Phenix, who is finishing his second, four-year term as chairman, announced that he will not seek a third term.

“I've been on the board as chairman for eight years, and that's a long time for one person to be in that leadership role,” said Phenix. “I think shared leadership is a worthwhile thing.”

Both Phenix's and Bailey's seats will be up for grabs in November, when Page County voters will decide the chairman and District 1 and District 5 seats on the school board. Representatives for those districts, as well as chairman, on the Page County Board of Supervisors will also be on the ballot.

“I felt like I wanted to take on the role [of chairman] and continue what the board has done for both the staff and students,” said Bailey. “I think all of the staff ― whether its someone who cooks a meal or cleans a floor, drives a bus or teaches a class ― serves an integral part … And it all culminates in the achievement of students. I am really proud to be part of that.”

Bailey, 63, is a 1971 graduate of Luray High School. He earned a bachelor's in elementary education in 1976 from Madison College (now James Madison University) in Harrisonburg. For 25 years, he served as an elementary teacher and administrator in Page and Frederick counties, including teaching positions at Luray Elementary and the position of principal at Stonewall Elementary in Clear Brook.

In 1996, Bailey retired after he was diagnosed with cancer.

“I was given six weeks to live at the time when I retired,” said Bailey, attributing a change in prognosis to treatment he received through the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. “When I found out I was going to live, I wanted to give back to the educational system of Page County.”

Bailey was first elected as the District 1 school board member in 2003, and has served four consecutive terms, including one, two-year term and three, four-year terms. After securing his fourth term in 2013, Bailey said he would not seek another term.

“I said that it would be my final term as District 1,” said Bailey. “I said that I would not run for that district again.”

The 14-year school board member said he hadn't decided at the time if he'd later run for chairman, but was open to the possibility. Around that time, Bailey faced questions about his residency from a handful of Page County residents, after co-purchasing a Bed and Breakfast in Moorefield, W.Va., one month after being elected in 2013.

Virginia Code states that each person elected to a school board must be a qualified voter and a resident of the district from which he or she is selected.

While the business endeavor required Bailey to spend a few days a week in West Virginia, he maintained his residence and school board responsibilities in Luray. Bailey sold the Bed and Breakfast in 2015.

If elected chairman, it won't be Bailey's first time in the role. Bailey has previously served during two different years as chairman of the Page County School Board, before the seat shifted from a rotating to an elected position.

If he retakes the reins, said Bailey, he will work to continue the board's efforts that he's been a part of for more than a decade, focusing on those efforts as a whole, as opposed to one specific issue.

“Every year brings a new set of challenges, both instructionally and monetarily,” Bailey said. “You just take them as you go.”

Phenix, 70, touted his possible successor's strengths.

“Mr. Bailey knows a lot about instruction and parliamentary procedures,” said Phenix. “He's very, very qualified to fill the position. He's a good candidate for it.”

Phenix, who has spent nearly five decades working in education in various roles ― including teacher, administrator, college professor and dean ― added that he will “stay close” to the board he's served for eight years, but that he's ready to pass the torch.

“You never know ― I would perhaps run for a seat on the board again, if it ever came open in my district,” Phenix said.

The eight-year chairman counted his proudest achievement made by the board during his tenure as its vote in 2015 to implement performance contracting ― a “guaranteed savings contract” that enables a school system to cut costs by updating its facilities' energy efficiencies, then use those savings to fully fund the improvements. Phenix also noted the board's decision in 2014 to appoint Donna Whitley-Smith as superintendent of the local school system. The board last week voted to extend her contract for another year.

“I am really pleased to be leaving the board with her contract extended,” Phenix said. “I can leave knowing that a top-notch person is in place because integrity, transparency and trust are all in place.”

The deadline to declare candidacy for the school board and supervisors' races is June 13. Candidate packets are available at the Page County Registrar's Office in the county government center in Luray.



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