COURTHOUSE — Carolyn Rye is the new chairperson of the Virginia Beach School Board, taking over after the three-year tenure of Beverly Anderson, who supported Rye’s nomination on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
“This is a tremendous honor beyond words,” said Rye, who represents the Lynnhaven District, after being selected chair by the School Board in an 8-3 vote.
School Board Member Sharon Felton, who represents the Beach District, was the other nominee to serve as chairperson.
Vice Chairperson Kim Melnyk, who represents the Princess Anne District, was selected to return for a second year in that role during the meeting.
“My job is to be a wingman for the chair, to work collaboratively with the chair,” Melnyk said in an interview, during which she noted she will again visit throughout the division, as she did after being elected to the board.
“I’m visiting all 86 schools again this year .. and just continuing to support the division,” Melnyk said.
School Board Member Dan Edwards, who represents the Kempsville District and was a longtime chairperson, nominated Rye during the meeting.
“The chair has got to produce consensus among the other 10,” Edwards said. “That is their primary job.”
Rye has demonstrated those qualities, he said, and she does her homework on issues facing the division.
“As your chair for the past three years, I often sought the opinion, advice and counseling from Mrs. Rye about matters that we were facing,” Anderson said. “Because, while the board has seen numerous positive changes and successes of the school division, the board has also had to make some difficult choices concerning issues that effect the school division.”
Rye’s leadership ability has grown in her committee efforts and ahe has shown “unwavering commitment,” Anderson said.
School Board Member Jessica Owens, representing the Rose Hall District, nominated Felton to serve as chairperson.
Owens said Felton is respected by colleagues and is “a unifier” who “always ensures that all voices are heard and fully considered.”
“It’s so nice to have a choice of just two great people,” said School Board Member Carolyn Weems, who represents the Bayside District. She supported Felton but said both candidates would do a good job in the role.
In remarks following the vote, Rye thanked Anderson for her “uncompromising passion for our students, your unwavering advocacy for our teachers, the organization skills you brought to this job, your ongoing commit- ment to your own personal (and) professional development.”
Anderson received a round of applause.
“It is an exciting time for this board and this school division,” Rye said. “We have a new strategic plan set to unfold effective July 1. Internally, an expanded committee structure is being implemented in real time. I view my role as supporting each one of you and the work you do on your committees and elsewhere.”
Anderson nominated Melnyk to return as vice chair, calling her service a “bright light” for the city schools.
“She not only does the expected as a board member of attending board meetings and workshops, she has visited in every school in the division,” Anderson said. “She participated every week in our division initiative to pack Beach Bags with food for our most needy students, and she has substituted for numerous board members on discipline committee meetings throughout her tenure.”
School Board Member Victoria Manning, who holds an at-large seat, nominated Felton as vice chair.
“I think that we need leaders who are going to value diversity of thought on this board,” Manning said. “I do think we will get that with Ms. Rye, and I think that we need to really consider that as we’re voting for the leaders of this board.”
School Board Member Laura Hughes, who holds an at-large seat on the board, said both Rye and Felton were quick to reach out and welcome her when she joined the School Board.
She said she thought “the two of them would make a great team unifying this board.” Hughes, Manning, Owens and Weems voted for Felton — though Felton joined the majority who selected Melnyk to return as vice chairperson by a 7-4 margin.
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