VIRGINIA BEACH — A retired city police officer who works as a substitute teacher is running for the Princess Anne District seat on the Virginia Beach School Board.
Paul Day, 59, will challenge incumbent Kim Melnyk, a buinessperson and former elementary school teacher seeking her second term. It is possible more candidates could join the race by a June filing deadline, but Day and Melnyk were the only candidates with paperwork in this past week.
Day hails from small town Ohio, and he served in the Navy before becoming a Virginia Beach police officer. He worked as a school resource officer, a detective investigating property crimes and with the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, known as DARE, among other assignments.
“I’m here for one reason – the teachers,” said Day, who has been subbing for about a decade in local schools.
That experience, he said, made him concerned about a change in student behavior, and he became involved with VB Spark Education Association. The group formed last year with Day as one of its founding directors, according to a Virginia State Corporation Commission record. He said he serves as the group’s first vice president.
The candidate, speaking at his home in West Neck Commons, said he hopes to work to stop wasteful spending on capital projects, raise teacher salaries and improve school safety.
“My number one thing I’m running on is school discipline and school safety,” he said.
Day said teachers are struggling with unruly, sometimes threatening students in the classroom, in addition to dealing with disruptive digital devices such as cell phones. In a column last year in The Virginian-Pilot, Day also spoke out against what he called ineffective enforcement of student discipline.
“I’ve seen it first hand because I’m in the schools,” Day said.
Day said VB Spark is nonpartisan, “another voice” for education in the city. He is among the candidates running who hope to change the majority on the School Board.
“The only way we can get teacher raises, get school security, get discipline back in the schools is to change that board,” Day said.
Regarding school safety, Day said the schools should provide retired police department personnel as security at elementary schools. High schools and middle schools have school resource officers assigned, though elementary schools do not.
He said he is against ideas that have been discussed nationally such as arming teachers. Day said his law enforcement background is a plus, giving him an advantage in understanding school security compared to the incumbent.
“I believe I’m more in touch because I’ve been in the schools,” he said.
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