By Kim Walter
Frank Wright, who is erving as Winchester's interim fire chief, was sworn in last week to fill the vacant seat on the Frederick County School Board.
Wright takes the place of board member Jim Harmon, who passed away last month.
The lifelong resident of the Winchester-Frederick County area has a history with the local school system, he said Wednesday afternoon. His father served as superintendent of the county school division from 1968 to 1982, and his wife is a retired school system employee.
In addition to his family's connection to the school system, Wright previously served on the School Board in 1997. Both of his children graduated from James Wood High School, and one of his grandchildren soon will be entering an elementary school in the county.
"Basically, since the 1960s I've been involved with the schools in one way or another," he said.
Wright retired in 2010 as the chief of the city's fire and rescue department. Until then, he had worked in the department for 35 years, filling a variety of roles, including every supervisory position.
He will serve as the interim chief until a permanent chief is hired.
Thanks to his work in the department, Wright said he's familiar with the budget process.
"It's definitely been a lot to try and absorb in the past few days," he said of the School Board's current proposed fiscal year 2014 budget.
Wright said he supports the proposed school system employee salary increase that is included in the budget.
"I think it's important that we find a way to encourage teachers to stay in our school system, but also be able to draw good teachers here," he said. "They are with our children every day ... they're the boots on the ground, some may say."
During the past two years following retirement, Wright said he "played a lot of golf and washed a lot of cars." Upon hearing about the open school board seat, he said he felt it was time to "get back involved."
"I've been in this community my whole life," he said.
Wright cited his retirement as an advantage on the board, considering the increased amount of time he can devote.
He admitted that people and faces have changed in the school community, but that wouldn't impact him as much as the fact that this time around he won't be working "full-time jobs as well."
Wright looks forward to supporting any initiatives that aim to "benefit the children and students, so they are provided with the opportunities that lead to a successful life."
"I'm very thankful for the opportunity to serve the citizens and students in Frederick County," he said. "They'll see me around."
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org