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County School Board Responses

2023 Pittsylvania County School Board Responses to Public Questions

The Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce asked the public to submit questions for candidates running for seats on the Pittsylvania County School Board. Even though all races were uncontested, the candidates were encouraged to submit responses. Mark Shields submitted information. The responses listed below came directly from the candidate and have not been altered or revised in any way.


1. What are your qualifications for the School Board, and what issue or policy position would best define the difference(s) between you and your opponents?

Shields: I am uniquely qualified to serve on the School Board due to my personal and professional background. As a parent of three children who all attended Pittsylvania County schools, I understand the concerns and perspectives of parents.
For the past 18 years, I've been dedicated to coaching and mentoring young athletes, including eight years as the varsity soccer coach at Chatham High School. Additionally, I currently serve as Vice President of the Southside Soccer Club in Blairs, where we focus on instilling life lessons through sports for approximately 500 youth athletes.
Professionally, I've been a business owner for 23 years, providing me with valuable leadership experience. I also operated a teacher supply store in Danville for six years, allowing me to closely engage with teachers, listen to their concerns, and support their mission in education.

2. How will you engage the community to improve schools in your district?

Shields: To engage our community effectively, our most valuable resource is our parents. By fostering and nurturing positive relationships with parents, teachers, and administrators, we can collaboratively shape a brighter future for our students.

3. What are your three overall education priorities that, in a perfect world, you would accomplish during your time in office? Why are these the most important?

Shields: My three educational priorities are clear:

Policy Over Politics: The School Board's primary focus should be on policies, not politics. Our children's education should remain free from political influences.

Teacher Support: We need to prioritize our teachers by not only recruiting outstanding educators and role models but also by retaining them, ensuring they feel valued and empowered to make a difference.

Core Values: Let's uphold the core values that have defined Pittsylvania County as a great place to live and work."

4. As a new or returning member to the Pittsylvania County School Board, how will you partner better with higher education institutions such as DCC and Averett University with student success transitioning from K12 to college?

Shields: We should collaborate with Averett, DCC, and other willing institutions to offer workshops and additional opportunities for our high-achieving students. It's essential that we explore innovative approaches to enhance exposure and provide pathways for students aspiring to pursue higher education beyond K-12.

5. How will you support career and technical education in our schools since this is a growing trend of importance and high wage opportunities in our region, state, nation and even internationally?

Shields: This is significant in our community, as we continue to recruit and try to attract quality blue-collar jobs to our area. We must continue to foster relationships with DCC, the Institute of Advanced Technology and Research, and others to increase exposure and opportunities to our students.

6. Some students may require more intensive intervention and individualized support to be successful in school. When this occurs, potential solutions to student needs are discussed in multi-disciplinary team settings that include both school staff and parents. What priority do you place on collaboration and accountability between families and school staff when attempting to problem-solve student concerns?

Shields: A positive working relationship between school and home is vital. Both parties must have the child’s best interest in mind, and work towards a common goal. The keys to this relationship are transparency and accountability. Both parties must be honest and open with their counterparts and must maintain trust and accountability throughout the process.

7. State Law (Ref. Code of Virginia 22-I-289 and 63.2-900) requires that within 72 hours of placing a child in foster care, the agency making such placement shall, in writing, notify the appropriate principal and superintendent of the placement and inform the principal of the status of the child’s parental rights. Pursuant to requirements and timelines of §22.11-3,4 of the Code of Virginia, students in foster care are to be immediately enrolled in the local school system. How do you plan on ensuring local DSS and school divisions are collaborative and accountable to foster care placement requirements and timelines?

Shields: As a member of the School Board, I will actively promote collaboration between local DSS and PCS to ensure strict adherence to foster care placement requirements and timelines, as mandated by Virginia law.