The Warren County School Board picked Melanie Salins to fill a seat left open by a member’s recent resignation.
The board voted at a special Monday meeting to appoint Salins as the North River District’s representative. Former member Arnold M. Williams Jr. resigned from the board in June because he moved out of the district. Salins’ first meeting will be Aug. 4.
Salins in a Tuesday phone interview said she feels excited that the board chose her to take the seat. She spoke about her reasons for wanting to join the board.
"I'm a mother of two and, you know, our children our are future so I felt like it was an important job that needed to be done," Salins said. "I'm excited and I think I have a lot to offer and I'm excited for what the future holds for education.
"I'm of the belief that, with all the negative during (the COVID-19 pandemic) and the shutdowns and this, that and the other, I think we're on the precipice of, you know, like an educational revolution where we can really see some positive change in our school system that can bring about, you know, the best teaching for every student because all kids are so unique and they all learn better in different environments," Salins said.
She went on to say she plans to use the next six months on the board to learn from the experienced members. Salins said she also plans to run for the seat in the upcoming special election Nov. 2.
"If they're going to spend the time to teach me and train me, you know, I need to be ready to seek the seat and fill out the term," Salins said.
Salins, 40, who moved from Manassas to Warren County in 2004, said she homeschools her two children. Salins said she attended public schools growing up. Her foster children also had attended public schools.
"My children are in home school because I enjoy spending time with them and I am capable of teaching them," Salins said.
Warren County ranks high among Virginia localities in the number of home-schooled children, Salins said. She expects the number to increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and noted that she has helped at least a dozen families start home-schooling their children.
Salins went on to say that "it's very important that every child get the best education possible."
"There's also a lot of students in Warren County who go to private school as well and I would like to see our private school system really work together with the home-schoolers because I think there are a lot of families that could benefit from like a hybrid-style of learning," Salins said. "I know there are a lot of parents I talked to through COVID ... they're working, they don't have time to home-school full time but would have loved an opportunity to have hybrid learning."
Salins said she wants to get parents more involved in their children's education and she wants to make sure to keep parents' rights intact in the school system.
At the Monday meeting, board members interviewed the four applicants in a closed session and then voted to appoint Salins when they came out into open session, Superintendent Christopher Ballenger said Tuesday.
Warren County must hold a special election for the North River District. The School Board petitioned the Warren County Circuit Court to allow the county to hold the special election. The winner would serve out the rest of the four-year term, which expires on Dec. 31, 2023.
The county is also holding a general election for the Fork and Happy Creek districts. Vice Chairwoman Catherine R. Bower and board member James S. Wells are not running for re-election to their seats representing the Fork and Happy Creek districts, respectively. Antoinette D. Funk and Stephanie J. Short are seeking election to the Happy Creek District seat. Andrea Marie Lo is running unopposed in the Fork District.
Both contests will be held on Election Day, Nov. 2. Anyone registered to vote in the North River District wishing to run in the special election must file the necessary documents with the Warren County Voter Registrar by Aug. 13.