John Riddick – Nansemond Borough (School Board)

Published 12:00 am Sunday, May 2, 2004

Name: John Riddick

Age: 76

Profession: Retired from the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in 1991. Also spent four years in the U.S. Air Force.


Email newsletter signup

Education: Graduated from Booker T. Washington School in Suffolk, 1946, and have taken classes at Hampton Institute (now Hampton University).

What are your qualifications for this seat? Experience is important. I have served three terms on the Suffolk School Board, from 1972-78 and since 1996.

Why should people vote for you on May 4? I have a strong interest in the education of this city’s children.

Suffolk Public Schools has traditionally had trouble recruiting teachers. What would you recommend that Suffolk do to get attract and keep top-notch teachers?

I am dissatisfied with Suffolk being used as a training ground for teachers. They come here, get experience and leave for more money. For us to retain experienced teachers, we must be able to pay them adequate salaries and hospitalization. I am firmly in favor of a 6 percent pay increase for teachers next year.

The nation recently observed the 5th anniversary of multiple school shootings at Colorado’s Columbine High School. How safe are students in Suffolk today? Does more need to be done to strengthen school safety?

We need to increase out security, possibly through the creation of a security force and a compulsory attendance office. That office would be responsible for seeing to it that children are off the street during school hours and properly enrolled in schools.

Although the state has compulsory school attendance laws in place now, they are not enforced in Suffolk.

The school system also needs to have a checking system, where each student will receive an identification card that is randomly checked by school officials. It also needs to address bullying, as well as teacher/employee safety, in the school is the school system.

Suffolk is one of the fastest growing school divisions in the state today. What steps do you believe the school system needs to take in order to keep up with the rapid growth?

We have renovated and built more schools in the last 10 years than we have in the history of Suffolk and Nansemond County. We must continue to have a building system that keeps up with the student population growth. We are opening a new high school this fall and plan on opening a new elementary school on Shoulders Hill Road in another couple of years. Major renovations are in the future for John Yeates, John F. Kennedy and Forest Glen middle schools.

The City Council has recently expressed a strong desire to see more neighborhood schools in Suffolk’s future. But during a recently joint meeting between council and the School Board, Dr. Milton Liverman indicated that neighborhood schools would not be the most economically feasible way to grow schools. What are your thoughts on this topic?

I agree with Dr. Liverman. Neighborhood schools are not financially sound.

It would cost much more to operate neighborhood schools and you would have to double your present personnel.

— Compiled by Allison T. Williams