With two kids in Loudoun County Public Schools and experience as an educator, Leesburg resident Beth Barts said she feels she has what it takes to be Leesburg’s next representative on the School Board.
A 23-year resident of the Leesburg District, Barts grew up in a family of educators on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley while attending small community schools. After receiving her teaching degree from Shepherd University, she became a school librarian for Winchester City Schools and LCPS.
She said with her background in education and research, asking questions and following up on the information is what she does best.
In a statement to the Times-Mirror, Barts said she’s been involved with LCPS and the community for more than 20 years. She has worked for children in her roles as a PTA officer, a classroom volunteer and as a Girl Scout troop leader and on projects like coordinating a middle school grocery outreach, school fundraisers and being a LEAP representative.
She said she is looking forward to the opportunity, if elected, to work closely with students, families and the community.
Barts’ children are almost a decade apart in age, which she said has given her a unique perspective and allowed her to see LCPS change over time in areas such as proposed changes to the instructional model for gifted services, outreach and task force groups on discipline disparity and special education policy, the expansion of mental health support teams transportation efficiency.
She said she feels all these areas need further advocacy. Barts lists expanding dual enrollment course offerings to help offset higher education costs, expanding Career and Technical education and STEM education beyond the Academies of Loudoun, improving communication between the school system and parent community and advocating for older schools in the Leesburg district are all high on her priority list.
“While improvements have been made, there is still much work to be done,” Barts said in a statement.
With new schools being opened each year, Barts said she feels LCPS needs to make sure resources are updated at older schools as well. She said she’d heard of parents having to crowdsource to fund new physical education equipment at a local middle school. She does not feel this is a long-term solution.
She’s also advocated for classroom additions to Catoctin Elementary School in order to help provide some solutions to the challenges of lack of core program instructional space and storage for the oldest elementary school in Leesburg.
Parent outreach and communication is an area Barts said she feels is lacking transparency. She would like to see the School Board committee meetings recorded, livestreamed and archived if they continue to be held during the workday, just like the regular business meetings.
She said she appreciates seeing the many PTA and PTSO meetings that are now streamed live so parents who are at home with younger children, working a second job or commuting late hours can be engaged and aware of what is happening in their child’s school.
Barts feels that given the size of the school system and recent news articles, it is important for all stakeholders that a comprehensive review of what information and how critical information is shared with the public be addressed.
She has also heard continued support among members of the learning community for increased staff compensation and smaller class sizes, and she said she looks forward to advocating strongly for both as an elected representative.
Leesburg School Board representative Tom Marshall shared at a Loudoun County Democratic Committee membership meeting earlier this month that he would not be running for re-election, and he endorsed Barts.
Marshall told the Times-Mirror he feels Barts is an energetic parent and that she’s communicated often with him about issues they both feel need to be addressed.
“She’s very bright, she’s a quick study, and I think she’ll do well,” Marshall said.