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Endorsement: Sam Burton for Pittsylvania County School Board

Four years ago, Pittsylvania County voters ousted 20+ year incumbent Sam Burton from the school board by electing Wayne Robertson. Burton is back to run against Robertson in a Chatham/Blairs district rematch & SouthsideCentral believes that Burton should be returned to office.

Sam Burton freely admitted that he didn’t run much of a campaign in 2011 and that’s the reason that he lost his reelection bid. Instead, Wayne Robertson won the four-year term and it’s been an adventure. Not all adventures are good.

Robertson has been very vocal and borderline disruptive at his times with his antagonistic behavior on the school board. Once  Robertson believed that his concerns weren’t being heard by enough people, he proceeded to write letters to the editor that SouthsideCentral criticized him for. Although we respect Robertson’s passion for the school system with him being a retired teacher, one important part of the school board is to keep harmony and support for the school system at all times. There’s nothing wrong with having a good spirited discussion at the board meetings, but if you’re outvoted on an issue… it’s time to accept the majority decision and move on. Robertson was highly critical of now-retired superintendent James McDaniel and showed that criticism often. James McDaniel was a great superintendent and led Pittsylvania County Schools to their excellent reputation. The rest of the school board got tired of Robertson’s antics and ended up passing a public reprimand resolution against him.

Sam Burton has no educational career experience but has always shown a strong desire to have the students’ best interest in mind. Burton has never tried to speak out in his 20+ years on the board, instead working quietly towards a consensus. With a new superintendent in place, it will be important for the new version of the school board to work closely with him and to give him direction. Based on track records, Burton is the better of the two candidates for that to happen.

I was surprised when Robertson stated that he wasn’t in favor of the STEM academy program as he thought the building could be better used as a new elementary school instead of for science and technology learning. His reasoning was that the travel times to the old Woodlawn Academy building were disruptive to the other schools’ classes. Burton is strongly supportive of the STEM academy and there’s no question that is the correct position to take. Students are attracted to programs like that and they become more motivated when exposed to challenges.

I can’t discard Robertson’s in-classroom experience as having no value to the school board, but it’s not like Burton would be an outside newcomer to the process. 30+ years of teaching is equivalent to 20+ years on the school board in my book. As I stated above, Sam Burton admits that he didn’t run a good campaign four years ago, but he’s ready to go back on the school board and keep the school system’s high reputation in place. I have no doubt that Burton will fit right back in where he left off. Burton is clearly the best choice in the election.

SouthsideCentral gives our highest endorsement to Sam Burton and we strongly urge Chatham/Blairs district voters to vote him back on the Pittsylvania County School Board.


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