Richard Crespin, candidate for School Board 2017

Editorial Board

Richard Crespin headshot
Richard Crespin

Richard Crespin

We asked Richard Crespin to prioritize two top issues he would address as a school board member, as well as provide information regarding his background in education.

Improving the City’s confidence in the School Board

When polls close on November 7, we will know if we have the financing for GMHS. Whether it passes or fails, the discussion leading up to the vote revealed a division within our community and and lack of faith on the part of some in our ability to oversee projects of this magnitude. This division is especially acute because the need for facilities doesn’t end with GMHS; TJ is approaching capacity. The board must regain the community’s confidence in its ability to ensure a dollar spent delivers a dollar of educational improvement. Our schools must provide value for everyone in the City, not just families with students in the system, and we must do a better job planning and delivering value for the whole community.


Teacher and principal recruitment and retention

Teachers obviously impact educational excellence. Now that we’ve brought FCCPS teacher pay on par with surrounding jurisdictions, we can do several things beyond pay to improve our ability to recruit and retain the best. These include better advertising open jobs and letting teachers know that FCCPS is an independent district. Right now, many don’t realize we’re separate from Arlington and Fairfax and we often post openings after them, limiting our talent pool.


Perhaps less obvious is the role of principals. A Scholastic and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation survey revealed that teachers rank principals as the main factor in decisions to stay at a school. According to a Wallace Foundation study, “Pick the right school leader and great teachers will come and stay. Pick the wrong one and, over time, good teachers leave, mediocre ones stay, and the school gradually (or not so gradually) declines.” FCCPS has had nearly 100% turnover in principals. We have an excellent group of leaders now and we must foster and improve their ability to deliver results for our students.


Experience in Education:

The school board doesn’t run the schools. It ensures the schools are well run. School boards have three fundamental responsibilities: 1) hiring and firing the superintendent, 2) setting the budget, and 3) establishing policies. The school board hires the superintendent and the superintendent, as the paid educational leader, hires the experts, the principals, administrators, specialists, and teachers. The board holds them accountable for doing their jobs.


I have over two decades of experience serving on multiple corporate and nonprofit boards, including several multi-million dollar companies and foundations. I ran the Corporate Responsibility Association and worked with the New York Stock Exchange to improve the governance of some of America’s largest publicly-traded companies. I will bring my experience in world class governance practices to the board, improving its ability to ensure our schools are well run.