Pat Hynes is no stranger to Fairfax County Public Schools. A past PTA president of Louise Archer Elementary School in Vienna and an elementary school teacher in the Fairfax County Public Schools for the last eight years, Hynes began a career in education after a few years as a Wall Street lawyer and about 10 years as an at-home mom.
Hynes, a Reston resident and fourth grade teacher at Forest Edge Elementary School, will run for the School Board's Hunter Mill District seat this fall.
The seat is available because longtime Hunter Mill representative Stuart Gibson is stepping down after 16 years. Gibson said he will endorse Hynes to take his place. Hynes will likely go up against current Reston Association president Kathleen McKee to get the Hunter Mill Democratic Committee endorsement this spring for the November 2011 election.
The graduate of Mount Vernon High School and the University of Virginia is a familiar face in the Vienna community, too. She was a founding member of the Vienna Teen Center Foundation, which raised money for facilities and programs at the Vienna Teen Center. Hynes, 51, now serves on the Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent’s Business and Community Advisory Council and Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins’ Budget Review Task Force.
Hynes has said her top priorities would be narrowing the kindergarten readiness gap, attracting the best teachers and the most competitive salary and benefits for them, instituting new benchmarks other than standardized tests to gauge performance,
Patch spent a few minutes with Hynes this spring to ask about her candidacy.
Why do you want to run for school board?
Pat Hynes: I have been a teacher and a parent volunteer. School board is the holy grail of public service. I can affect education policy on a whole different level. I have to give it a shot.
Will you be able to teach and serve on the school board?
PH: I wouldn't be able to teach in Fairfax County and serve on the FCPS school board. I may look for a job in a neighboring school system, and I am getting training to become a mediator, so that might be a new path. My goal is to find a career that as not as exhausting as classroom teaching if I am on the school board.
What would be your top priorities for the schools?
PH: We really need to close the achievement gap. We have to get some of these kids ready to learn. We have kids at one end who go to preschool and have involved parents. The kids at the other end are eligible for Head Start. There are a lot of kids in the middle, though, who we need to focus on. A lot of those kids go to day care. We need to work with the state and the county for an initiative to improve [the learning environment] for these kids. We also need all-day kindergarten in all schools.
What about the current state of the FCPS budget? Teachers have not had raises in two years, but Superintendent Jack Dale says he will push the county for them this upcoming budget year.
PH: I am glad to see Jack Dale is pushing for our education stuff. If they don't advocate for us, no one will. But I don't know what will happen. We get 73 percent of our funding from the county. The schools really need to communicate with the Board of Supervisors.
What are some of the biggest issues for the Hunter Mill District?
PH: The Hunter Mill District has been through some difficult boundary changes. Many people have accepted them, but there are still some lingering concerns about how the process was handled. The conversation is still ongoing. The school system and the board should be looking at a new way to approach boundary changes.
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