Brann seeks Brentsville School Board seat, vows to curb school overcrowding

Shawn Brann is running to be the next Brentsville District Representative on the Prince William County School Board. If elected, he would replace Gil Trenum, who is not seeing reelection.

Brann temporarily replaced Trenum on the School Board in 2016 when the U.S. Navy deployed Trenum to Africa. Brann ceded the seat upon Trenum’s return the next year.

Name: Shawn L. Brann

Party: Independent

County: Bristow

Running for: School Board, Prince William County Schools, Brentsville District

Website: brann4brentsville.com

Work: Senior Technical Editor

Education: George Mason University: B.A. in English; B.A. in Speech Communications George Mason University: Masters in Education George Mason University: Certificate in Educational Leadership.

Community Involvement: My personal experience and involvement in the local community and in PWCS is extensive. I was a Language Arts teacher at Woodbridge Senior High School from 1999-2006.

When my daughter Sophia became a student in PWCS in 2009, I started to volunteer as a parent in PWCS. I was asked by Mrs. Kirsten Fisher, the first principal of Piney Branch Elementary School, to help start the advisory council at the school. I held the role of Chair for the Piney Branch Advisory Council (PBAC) for six years (2012-2018).

In addition, I volunteered and served on the naming committee for PBES (2011), and served on two boundary committees in PWCS (Haymarket Elementary School in 2013 and Yung Elementary School in 2014).

I was named to the Safe Schools Advisory Council (SSAC) by Brentsville District School Board member Gil Trenum in 2015, serving as his representative from the district. After one year, I was named the Chair of the SSAC and served in that role until I was selected unanimously by the PWCS School Board in September 2016 to serve as an Acting School Board member while Mr. Trenum was deployed to Africa with the Naval Reserves.

I served as the Acting School Board member from September 2016 to October 2017. Since I left the School Board, I have volunteered at Patriot High School since 2018. I serve as the Field Hockey representative on the school’s Boosters Club, and I serve as a 9th Grade Parent Representative on the school’s advisory council.

In addition, I served as a Cub Scouts leader in my son’s Cub Scouts pack at Piney Branch Elementary, and now serve as a merit badge counselor in his Boy Scouts troop at Gainesville United Methodist Church. I also have coached and coach recreational soccer through VSA and NVSC in Prince William County, most recently serving as an assistant coach on my son’s team during the recent Spring 2019 season.

Questions and Answers

PL: What are the top three major issues facing the district you wish to represent? 

Brann: Salaries and Retention, Overcrowding, Being responsive to parental concerns

PL: What concrete solutions do you propose to address these issues?

Brann: As a former teacher in PWCS, I understand more than many how the salary of a PWCS teacher affects their ability to stay in the profession. When I left teaching in 2006, I was a good teacher and only getting better; however, I made the difficult choice to pursue another career for financial and family reasons.

As a School Board member, I will continue to support yearly raises for all PWCS employees, including employees we sometimes forget: Our bus drivers, our custodians, our support staff, our substitute teachers, and others.

We are still losing too many excellent teachers and employees to other school systems and other careers. We must do more to retain them. Overcrowding at the high school level should no longer be an issue in the district by the Fall of 2021, when the 13th high school opens in the Brentsville District. I was proud to help lead the effort on the School Board to ensure that the high school had an additional 500 seats, by supporting a special meeting in January 2017 to vote on and approve the additional funds that were being offered by the Prince William County Board of Supervisors.

Our middle schools – especially Gainesville – need some additional space to address overcrowding. I will push for the addition to the school and others in the district to happen sooner instead of later on our CIP. As a parent in the school system, I have faced frustrations as a parent who sought answers from the system to no avail.

Even though I think this type of frustration will improve for many parents with the addition of the new Ombudsman position – thank you to Brentsville District School Board member Gil Trenum for leading the cause to bring that position to PWCS – there’s more that we can do as a Board to listen to the concerns of parents. I will support the development of a working group of parents who work directly with the Ombudsman to address parental concerns throughout the district and the county.

PL: From your perspective, what is the job description of the office you’re seeking?

Brann: A School Board member’s role and responsibilities are developing and voting on good policy, analyzing and voting on the best budget possible for the school system and the county’s residents, and effectively communicating with constituents and employees of the school system.

A School Board member should not only be a leader in his/her own district but throughout the county. He/she should be an elected official that the children in our school system can look up to as a positive role model.

PL: What expertise will you bring to the office?

Brann: Based on my experience as a teacher in PWCS for seven years, as an actively-engaged parent volunteer for the past decade (naming committee, boundary committees, advisory councils, Safe Schools Advisory Council, budget committee), and as an Acting School Board member in the Brentsville District from 2016-2017, I am the most qualified candidate for this position. I am ready to step in on Day 1 of office knowing what the job entails and how to work with others on the Board for the betterment of all students and families in Prince William County.

PL: Do you feel that the average citizen is well-informed and understands the workings of local government?

Brann: I think many do, but there’s always more that we can do as elected officials to help all citizens learn more about their local government and how it works. I plan to communicate through social media, town halls, letters to residents, email, phone calls, and knocking on doors (which shouldn’t be limited to election years). I’m always open to my constituents sharing their ideas with me as well.

PL: Have you ever made any mistakes in your public life? How have they affected you?

Brann: No, I haven’t made any mistakes; however, like many individuals, I think there are moments in my life when I could have been more patient. My one year of experience on the School Board as an Acting School Board member was an opportunity to develop more and more patience, and I think I succeeded the majority of the time.

PL: Our readers want leaders in local government. Why should they vote for you?

Brann: I have been a leader throughout my life in many different roles: A teacher. A coach. A parent. An Acting School Board member. A Scouts leader. An advisory council chair. A Safe Schools Advisory Council chair. A manager in the private sector. As I proved during my one year as an Acting School Board member, all of these experiences shaped me into a well-regarded leader on the School Board from 2016-2017. I look forward to the opportunity to serve my district of a decade, my county of 21 years, and my Commonwealth of Virginia for my entire life as an elected official for the next four years. Thank you for your support and vote on November 5.

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