Sidney McClure is one of two candidates seeking the Ridgeway District seat on the Henry County School Board in the November election.
Champ Hardie is seeking the post against McClure, the incumbent in the race.
McClure was appointed by the board in September, to finish the unexpired term of Francis Zehr, who died while in office.
McClure, 23, said he has a heart for service. His interest in running began as he worked to figure out the best way to serve and be an asset to the community.
The thought that “came to my attention was ‘why not invest in our students who are going to become the future leaders of this county, and more so of our district?’” He concluded “the best way for me to do that is to run and help make decisions to guide their lives in what I hope to be the right direction.”
After his appointment, “I’ve had conversations with an assistant superintendent to assure the school board office that I’m an active person and I want to be involved,” he said.
While he’s been focused on learning how the board operates and other facets during his short brief in the role, McClure believes he’s accomplished several goals, including laying the groundwork to lobby for the division by attending the Virginia School Board Association’s (VSBA’s) Legislative Conference in September.
During the conference, McClure said he was able to meet with other board members throughout Virginia and, most importantly, interact with legislators who work on school legislation.
“I think me interacting and being a part of those conversations really benefits the Ridgeway District and the Henry County Public Schools as a whole,” he said.
Being involved in discussions on a state level and talking with legislators are among his goals, McClure said. He hopes to learn what can be done to better serve the school system “to make sure we’re accurately preparing our students for success.”
He added he also wants to know if the division is actively preparing, recruiting, and paying teachers properly to provide the best education for the students.
McClure also is included in conversations about capital improvement.
One of his goals is to make sure the school division is as safe as possible. While he believes the schools are already doing an excellent job, McClure said he wants to ensure everything possible is being done so students can be successful.
“The only way they can be successful is to make sure they’re safe in their classrooms, that we’re providing them with the best educators possible, and we’re preparing them for the future – whether that’s career or college,” he said.
A Safety Team in the school division’s budget created to receive funds for safety improvements, he said.
“So, on the safety side of things, the funding is there. We’ll just make sure we’re allocating it and putting it in the right direction,” he said.
In terms of educators’ pay, McClure said some is funded by the state and some comes from taxes paid by Henry County residents.
“From what I’ve seen so far, I think Henry County Schools are doing a decent job in allocating funds where they need to be used, and using the funds we receive from the citizens well,” he said.
McClure said he wants to be 100 percent transparent with the public.
“I want voters to know that we are not only a board that serves the school, but we are a board that serves them as well,” he said.
If residents have an issue, he wants them to know they can “pick up the phone and call.” McClure also encourages residents to attend meetings to voice their concerns.
“If you’re not fond of something or like the direction we’re going, I encourage you to participate. Your voice is the most powerful thing you have. Use it,” he said.
At some point in the past, McClure said there were struggles to remain transparent.
“I think in the past, it has been a difficult thing to overcome, but it is my goal to overcome that and let the citizens know that I’m here for you,” he said.
To involve the public and to help promote transparency, McClure said he wants to hold town hall meetings and host round tables with other local leaders to discuss current issues.
McClure currently lives with his mother, stepfather, and brother in Ridgeway.
A graduate from Magna Vista High School, McClure is currently studying Law and Public Policy at Liberty University.
He is employed by Southern Software, a public safety software company, as a public safety trainer, and is also a part-time employee at Wright Funeral Services & Crematory.
McClure currently serves as the president of the Spencer-Penn Centre and volunteers with the Ridgeway District Volunteer Rescue Squad, where he is CPR certified.
In his spare time, McClure likes to volunteer with different organizations.