Two members of the Waynesboro School Board announce their re-election bids for the November 8, 2022 general elections.
Board Vice-Chair Kathe Maneval is running in Ward D for a fifth term. Kathe was first elected to the Waynesboro School Board in 2006. She has served as board chairperson for seven years and vice-chair for two.
Board Member Debra Freeman-Belle is running in Ward C for a second term. Debra was first elected to the Waynesboro School Board in 2018.
Both board members bring a wealth of experience to Waynesboro Public Schools, not only in their service to students & teachers but also in their vast involvement in non-profit organizations and civic groups. It is their leadership, however, during the Covid-19 pandemic that has proven their devotion to our kids and why they should be re-elected in November.
When they were elected by the voters in 2018, there was no hint of the devastating situation that was about to grip the country in March of 2020. School boards all over the country had to make difficult decisions that would impact the education, health, and lives are their students. Kathe & Debra stepped up with the rest of the Waynesboro School Board and Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Cassell to navigate an unprecedented two years of non-traditional learning that has resulted in higher student achievement levels.
Other successes made include:
- Successful re-opening of all eight schools.
- An average 12.5% increase of compensation for educators in the past two years.
- Completion of Phase I of the renovation of Waynesboro High School.
- The opening of the school system’s Career and Technical Education Academy, the Waynesboro-Augusta Supporting Transition Employment Program (STEP) Learning Lab and Valley Academy.
- Collaborative relationship with Waynesboro City Council in supporting school funding.
- Addition of six more electric school buses by 2023 that will save taxpayer dollars on fuel and maintenance. The school system currently has two.
Both board members agree that a primary focus during their next term will be continuing to work on school safety measures. Whether it is a child being bullied by a classmate or someone who wants to commit mass violence against educators and students, Kathe and Debra are determined to keep our schools as safe environments where children can learn, play and thrive.
Individually, Kathe and Debra share reflections on their time serving Waynesboro students.
Kathe says, “I am pleased with the progress we’ve made with improving teacher compensation and with working through our capital improvement projects, including the completion of Phase 1 of the high school renovation.” She is also excited about the curriculum enhancements at the middle and high schools. “We have new course offerings in CTE and Trades. And we have better guidance for our students as they choose their academic and career paths.
“However, the past two years have presented unique challenges for education. It is vital that our school division continues to focus on academic learning as well as the social/emotional needs of our students. We are offering academic enrichment opportunities this summer as well as adding additional counselors and school psychologists to help meet our students’ needs.”
In addition, Kathe says, “I am running for re-election because I believe that having an experienced school board member with a background in education is vital in helping to guide our school division as we move forward through these challenging times.”
Kathe is a graduate of Swarthmore College (Bachelor of Arts) and the University of Pennsylvania (Master of Science in Education). She continues her volunteer work in the Scouts BSA program, currently serving as Committee Chairman for Cub Scout Pack 73. She has also served as Treasurer for Westwood Hills PTO, Kate Collins PTO, and the Waynesboro High School Band Supporters.
Kathe is the longest-serving member of the School Board. She is the mother of four children, all of whom are graduates of Waynesboro High School. One of her sons is a high school chemistry teacher and another is a middle school math teacher in other public school divisions in Virginia.
Debra says, “Hindsight is 20/20. I’ve spent the past few months reflecting on what the past couple of years have taught me about our students, educators, families and community. Like many, I struggled during the roller coaster of the pandemic while doing all that I could to show up where needed in life. But, at the 24 months mark of working and living at a heightened level of expectations, safety, and pivots, our students are ready for any challenges that may come their way. As a parent of three children who attend Waynesboro schools, I plan to dedicate these next four years to their continued success.”
Debra adds, “We need to continue working on additional support services for students; continue trying new and needed strategies for the social, emotional, and physical well-being of our students; continue renovations to buildings in need; continue increasing employee compensation; continue our great relationship with Waynesboro City Council; and continue to have the best school system in the area. We are Waynesboro and we are resilient.”
Debra Freeman-Belle is a Waynesboro native, WPS alumnus, and mother of 3 students in our school system. She has spent the past 20 years working and volunteering in programs that serve children, youth and adults. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Boys and Girls Club and previously served as the Executive Director of Waynesboro Area Refuge Ministry (WARM) where she led the community’s homeless services, efforts, and partnerships. She studied Business Administration at Mountwest Community & Technical College and Touro University. She is a Certified Case Manager and is trained in Crisis Intervention and mental health. Debra has been recognized nationally for grant writing, received local services awards and nominations, and is a strong advocate for community-level solutions and partnerships.