School Board Election 2022: John “Mark” Wooster

Published 4:41 pm Monday, September 19, 2022

John “Mark” Wooster is running for the District 2 (formerly Newport) seat on Isle of Wight County’s School Board against Renee Dial in a Nov. 8 special election. The Smithfield Times asked each candidate to answer seven questions. Dial’s responses are published here.

1. Can you briefly summarize why you decided to run for office?

I was approached by other parents of children in Isle of Wight Co. Schools and asked to run for the office of School Board Representative for District Two. Before I made my decision I began to pay much closer attention to the actions of the board and what was being made available to our children. What I found was appalling. Parent’s voices and legitimate concerns for their children were being ignored. Divisive, inappropriate and very sexually explicit material had crept it’s way into our schools and the notion of transparency had become non-existent. After considerable thought, and with the support of my wonderful wife I decided to run based on these and many other reasons.

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2. What should the School Board’s top priority be right now?

The School Board’s top priority should always be that of the children. Providing a safe and secure environment free from any fear of harm (internal or external) where the children can receive a proper education and excel in their future endeavors.

3. Is Isle of Wight County Schools doing enough to keep students safe from shootings? What additional security measures would you like to see?

Isle of Wight County Schools has been very blessed thus far and I am thankful we have not had to endure what other localities have. At the August 11, 2022 School Board Meeting, Mr. John Collick made a motion to take a vote on creating a Threat and Vulnerability assessment team to determine security weaknesses and needs for all schools in Isle of Wight Co. This motion was voted down 3-1. The nay votes included my opponent Ms. Renee Dial. We need to determine weak points in our school security. School Vestibules have been proposed in the 2023-2024 CIP however to the best of my knowledge nothing has been implemented prior to the beginning of the 2022- 2023 school year. I would like to see SRO’s in every school in Isle of Wight Co., conduct an assessment of the schools and make further decisions based on the assessment findings.

4. Are Isle of Wight’s Supervisors right in delaying their vote on whether the school system can keep over $600,000 in unspent funds from the 2021-22 school year, or are their calls for accountability looking for problems where none exist?

It is the responsibility of every elected board member to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars paid by every citizen in Isle of Wight Co. To simply throw money at a problem and hope for the best has never been a viable solution. It is my understanding the Isle of Wight Co. Board of Supervisors requested a joint meeting between themselves and the Isle of Wight Co. School Board to discuss the budget and were denied that meeting. I am a firm believer in fiscal responsibility and see no reason why two governing bodies can not come together. I support the Board of Supervisors decision to delay their vote to allow the School Board to keep roughly $600,000 until a joint meeting between both boards can come to fruition. Every citizen in Isle of Wight Co. needs to be assured their tax dollars are being spent wisely.

5. Should departing school superintendents be compensated more generously for unused paid leave than other retiring school employees?

Isle of Wight Co. School Policy GCBD-R “Leaves and Absences” details the accrual, use of and payout upon separation/retirement of accrued annual and sick leave. This policy should be followed for “ALL” employees of the Isle of Wight Co. School System equally and fairly without regard to position held. No employee should be compensated more generously based on their position.

6. Should students have access to information on sexuality and race relations via school-purchased library books and electronic devices?

It is my viewpoint that Isle of Wight Co. students should not have access to sexually explicit/graphic material, inappropriate, divisive or any material that promotes one race over another in school libraries or school purchased devices. It is the responsibility and the right of the student’s Parents/Parent to have discussions with their child/children pertaining to sexuality when they feel is appropriate.

7. Are unisex bathrooms in schools a good idea?

I am in opposition to unisex bathrooms in Isle of Wight Co. schools unless said bathrooms are single units with locking doors. We are all aware of the tragedy that occurred in Loudoun Co. as a result of unisex bathrooms and we need to everything in our power to assure our children are safe in school.

Editor’s note: According to reporting by The Washington Post, a Loudoun County teenager was convicted in 2021 of forcing a girl to perform sex acts in a bathroom at Stone Bridge High School, and pleaded no contest to charges of sexually assaulting a second girl at another school. The parents of the Stone Bridge victim described their daughter’s assailant as “gender fluid,” prompting backlash during last year’s gubernatorial election against Loudoun’s policy of allowing students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Attorney General Jason Miyares has convened a grand jury probe into the two incidents.