Letter to Editor – White Post Write-In Campaign

What a difference four years makes!

The last election cycle was filled with debates, forums, letters in the papers and pretty intense press coverage.  Clarke County was democracy in action!   But not this time.  This year we barely have enough “candidates “to field a School Board or a Board of Supervisors. Only two seats are being contested in the whole County!  There are no debates and only one forum presently scheduled and letters to the editor have not been plentiful or passionate.

Apathy reigns!

Clarke Daily News - Opinion & Editorial

Nowhere in the county is this more evident than in the White Post Voting District.   Here we have only one person who has declared himself for our slot on the School Board – Chip Schutte.    Now Mr. Schutte is a pleasant sort of fellow and a pretty fair musician but we have seen him as a School Board member before. You might recall that he was an integral part of the previous board that we threw out en masse. He voted repeatedly to spend three and a half MILLION dollars on a site we did not own (and still don’t) and a school design that was over budget from its conception;  he supported the outlandish  “acceleration” program in math that left huge numbers of our children without enough math basics to pass an SOL;  and he threw up major roadblocks to the creation of a working relationship with the BOS.   Pretty serious stuff that would normally doom any candidate for the office – and the list could go on!

So what can we do at this late date? We can decide not to vote for the School Board position; but all he needs is his own vote to win, so that does little.   A serious under vote might influence some people but I think in this case it would have little impact.   A “write in” candidate coming to the fore is only way to avoid apathy and Mr. Schutte wasting our seat for the next four years.   Any qualified candidate who came out now would still have a month to get their message out.  Since Mr. Schutte has yet to offer a message, they would be starting even.

Is there not someone who is willing to serve the community in this most important role?

Chris Bates

White Post


  1. Tony Parrott says:

    I’m actually surprised that Chris would tip his hand this way. I had heard rumors that he had started a campaign to get Robina as a write in candidate. Maybe he has someone else in mind.
    If Chris recalls Chip only lost that seat by ONE VOTE; he wasn’t thrown out in a landslide by no means. But if Chris is unhappy with the candidate that has committed to run I give him permission to write me in. 🙂

  2. Robina is a business-minded citizen. She understands the intricacies of budgets and is a powerful force in seeing the completion of the new high school. She focuses on all of our students’ needs and it shows. I am 100% behind Robina’s return to the school board.

  3. Naked Truth says:

    It seems Robina bases her decisions from facts and data ,not solely from emotions. I applaud Robina for her efforts during her tenure on the School Board. She has always been prepared and well informed. It is a shame that Shutte just walks in. I remember the last time he sat on the Board. I was not impressed and glad there was a one vote difference. I would hate to see all the effort that the current School Board put in go back to the old ways.
    We have one unopposed candidate that can’t seem to get her head around things, one present candidate that shadows and mimics whatever Alger says and does, and Alger herself. I do like Lee though. This is a recipe for disaster.

  4. chipschutte says:

    Dear Mr. Bates:

    While I would like to thank you for at least crediting me with being “a pleasant sort of fellow,” there are a couple of other issues raised in your letter that I would like to address. First, I agree with you that it is surprising that there are not more contested races in the county. I fully expected to run against a registered opponent. Whether it is apathy or just the fact that the post has been so contentious for so long that no one wishes to take it on is anyone’s guess. Any sane person would think twice about entering the fray, and I did. But a number of folks who supported me 4 years ago encouraged me to run again, my wife Carolyn gave me the go-sign, and today I am a registered candidate, and if i am fortunate enough to win, I look forward to contributing what I can to help guide school policy as part of the School Board team-so I would hope that despite any policy disagreements that we might have, I hope you would at least give me credit for being un-apathetic. Why run? Well, why volunteer? Because its a way to give back to the community. I have served on the boards of Help With Housing, Clarke County Education Foundation, The Barns of rose Hill, and the Sanitary Authority, over the years. Each was a pain at times, but each group was trying to do something worthwhile, and it was worht the effort. I feel the same about the School Board position.

    I would like to make a couple of corrections. First, although i appreciate your calling me a ‘pretty fair musician’, I must point out that music is a hobby, not an avocation, (I assume hobbies are still allowed) and I am pleased to be able to perform on an occasional basis with some people my age who all, like me, have full-time jobs and families. But my full-time job is to be a Real Estate Broker with the Remax office in Berryville, not an itinerant musician. i have had this job since I moved back to the county in ’93, and enjoyed the boom days of the past, I also know firsthand the crushing effects the current downturn has had on many jobs. However, I like my job, am optimistic that the future will be better, and intend to keep on doing it for some time.

    Second, the “sins” you accuse me of in my previous term also need some revision, as presented. If you recall, I was appointed at mid-term to fill a vacant post. The issues of school design and site selection had already been decided by the School board in place at the time, before I came on. The job I was given as part of the team, and which i accepted, was to work on site plan approval of the site already selected by the school board, which i did to the best of my ability. You are correct-I did vote to spend money on tests and reports required by the planning commission, the hiring of a project manager, and paymrnts to an architect required under an existing contract, and also voted against payments that were unclear under that contract. Happily, that is not an issue in this election. Another site has been selected, school construction is well underway, and the current school board has done one heckuva job in pulling off that feat. What lies ahead, the transition to the new school, and the renovation of the old high school into an elementary school, are in planning phase and I expect to work to execute those plans, again as part of a school board team.

    Thirdly, your criticism of my support of academic programs already in place when I was appointed is a bit unfair. I am not an education professional. I am a lay citizen, as are most School Board members across the state. Most of those programs were in evaluation and/or performance phase when I was on the Board-did I stand up and order all those programs dismantled? No. With the benefit of hindsight, we now know those programs did not advance our math test scores, and that is a big problem that needs to be addressed, but I don’t see it as a harbinger of a ‘doomed candidacy’. Was I a perfect Board Member before? No. there were meetings that i was not fully prepared for, often because i had been to a Planning commission or BOS meeting the same day. Were there votes, in hindsight, that I wished I had back? Absolutely. Did I satisfy all of a broad and split citizen voting group? No, but i acknowledged both sides of the argument, and voted the best way I knew.

    As to the board being thrown out ‘en masse’, its true; I was one of 4 Board members to lose. But i lost by a single vote, so I believe there were those who believed I was doing a good job. And as to creating obstacles for working with the BOS-there was no relationship when I came on except venom. I attended most every meeting of the BOS and Planning commission, and was told after I lost by members of the planning commission and BOS that I had done a good job, so I dont think anything i did soured that relationship. I am friends with both current BOS candidates in the White Post district, and i expect those friendships and mutual respect to endure any disagrements we have down the road, whichever of the two is elected.

    As to positions taken, I agree with you that this year, there has been a lack of public forums and debates in which to present opinions or positions, which is unfortunate. I plan to enter the post, if fortunate enough to win, with an open mind, a sense of humor, and the humble knowledge that no matter how considered, some positions that I take will not work out as expected. I am well aware of the budget constraints facing the county & state, but I am also aware that as a School Board member i am charged with advocating for the school and what we need to present a balanced academic program that serves the needs of as many children as possible, including both vocational and advanced programs, which I know is a hot button item for you. No one i know advocates the abolition of either program-the trick is in the balance between the two, and what is the best form.

    I have been painted as a champion of the iB program, but i have seen both sides as a parent-one child who excelled and got the IB diploma, one who struggled in the accelerated scholars program (which i encouraged her to go into-my bad), and a son who is a senior this year and has elected not to be an IB candidate, but to concentrate on dual enrollment courses, which i think is correct for him.

    What it comes down to with me, is the teachers. i believe they are the single biggest factor in inspiring students to achieve, whatever the course. When i think of the ones we have lost, from bruce johnson to clark hansbarger to ms. Schletty to Ms Eddy to name a few, well, theyre irreplaceable, but yet we must replace them. With a new school and new facilities, we have a golden opportunity to begin again, and to help the great teachers still here. I think that is a major answer to many of our issues-the recruiting, training and retaining of quality teachers.

    I hope what i have learned as a former Board member, a parent, and a interested witness to the challenges and changes of the last 4 years will help me be a better Board member this time around. Having read your letter, Mr. Bates, i am not naive enough to expect your vote in November. But I agree that write-in candidates are part of our system, and if someone steps up and beats me, thats democracy in action. My intent remains to run and represent the White Post district on the School board to the best of my abilities. I apologise for the length of this post, but i felt a response in full was required.

    Chip Schutte

  5. Nancy Martin says:

    Thanks, Chip, for weighing in. For those of us trying to decide what you bring to the educational leadership of your candidacy, can you summarize what your positions are about the following “hot” issues:
    the IB program
    the Ap program
    the Ag program
    Your musicianship is not an issue. Neither is your profession. Nor is your experience as a parent of children invovled in these programs. All are relevant and add to your candidacy.
    Can you answer these questions succinctly?
    I honestly wish you the best…

  6. Nancy Martin says:

    Perhaps this gene pool is getting a bit too “congenial”. Where are we in your day: member of the Planning Commission, Board of Supervisors and candidate for the School Board? Seems like your docket is pretty full already. Since when is being (self-annointed) busy an excuse for not being thorough? That’s not good enough for my child’s education
    This is an important job; committ and come to it with all your resources or get out of the way.

    “Was I a perfect Board Member before? No. there were meetings that i was not fully prepared for, often because i had been to a Planning commission or BOS meeting the same day. Were there votes, in hindsight, that I wished I had back? Absolutely. Did I satisfy all of a broad and split citizen voting group? No, but i acknowledged both sides of the argument, and voted the best way I knew.”

  7. Bill Bell says:

    So Chris. What district do you live in? I don’t recall seeing you name on any ballots, but I do seem to hear your opinions quite a bit.

  8. I know that Barbara Lee likes Chip and his previous School Board experience will be an asset..

  9. Jim Rieger says:

    The last School Board election was so long ago, it seems like another world. When your life revolves around your children, who change so quickly in a single year, short times can seem like an eternity of lifetimes, but a second of experiences.

    Chip, there is one question you did not address:

    I remember the plans for the school. I remember the referendum to allow the building of a school that would cost up to $45 million; it was defeated. I remember that the Board of Supervisors approved a budget for school construction of somewhere in the $30 million range; this was calculated to moderate the effect of school construction on Clarke County taxpayers. Because of the strange way that incremental increases in spending affect the need for revenue generation, each dollar over this amount that might be spent on school construction would have a disproportionate affect on county tax rates.

    I also recall that after the election, it came to light that the seated school board had actually been planning for a school that would exceed the $30 million budgeted; I think they were planning on a school in the $40 million range, if I recall correctly. Perhaps they were hoping that the election would bring in new supervisors who would approve that budget.

    Chip, you jumped into a vacant spot and gave White Post representation. I thanked you for your service after the election. But Chip, we have to depend upon our School Board representatives to be transparent and accountable, and to act on their judgment of what is right. Was it right for the School Board to be planning to exceed the allocated budget for school construction, even after the referendum demonstrated the vast opposition to such a high price? If not, why did you go along with it? Why did you not bring it to light before the election? Why did you not tell your constituents that your Board was acting contrary to their stated wish (the results of the referendum) and the budget provided by the Board of Supervisors?

    Chip, you are a great guy and I really like you. You serve the public in many ways. But my vote for you depends upon your promise and commitment to act accountably on behalf of your constituents, of which I am one. I’ll write in Robina if I can’t get a resolution in my mind about your commitment to do this. Although Robina does not have the energy for a campaign, I believe she might serve if elected through a popular response and write-in.

    –Jim Rieger

    • Well…you and Bates have always been believed to be her sycophants, and now y’all’s letters here prove it. You essentially tell the candidate to tell you what you want to hear (“act accountably” on your terms) or you’re going to waste your vote and write in the name of the single most divisive, arrogant, and hypocritical person to ever serve on the School Board? The lady who has expressly stated that she’s got no desire for another term, and one whose term has been marked by underhanded dealings and emails, doublespeak, and an open pitched battle to discredit the current superintendent she hired? Wow, dude…that’s really “little child” of you.

  10. Thats the whole problem! You White Post voters continue to mess this county up!

    Thanks for wanting Robina to go back into office Jim! There are many of us in this county that is counting her days down happily! Yet you White Posters want her to stay?

    • White Post Voter says:

      There are many of us in this county that is counting her days down sadly. Just one question: can you name any other School Board member who comes to the meetings better prepared with research, data and a non-PC attitude to get the job done? Anyone? Names? This is not about personal egos. This is about educating the next generation and maybe there will be a new Steve Jobs in the mix, who knows?

      If we don’t do it right, then we all share in the ignominious legacy of that omission.

  11. White Post Voter says:

    Yes indeed, I want Robina to stay on the School Board. She always does the right thing for the students in Clarke County. I commend her for her hard work and public service over the last four years. I would like to think that there is a chance she will still be on the School Board after the election in November.

  12. Disillusioned Clarke Voter says:

    Dear Candidate Schutte
    We all know that the realty market is pretty slow and given the long response that you posted about being a “good guy” seems to show that you have a least a tiny bit of free time on your hands. That being the case:
    1. Why have you ignored several comments here asking for your position on the issues?
    2. Why aren’t you attending school board meetings?
    3. Why do you remain silent when voters want to hear your position on important school issues?
    4. Why will you be surprised when a write-in campaign is mounted against you?

  13. Jim Rieger says:

    Bacchus and HA!:

    Perhaps this discussion might be more productive if we all focused on issues, and tried to steer clear of calling each other names. You can attack me and other White Post voters personally as much as you want, but it does not help resolve the the valid issues that your fellow Clarke County residents have raised. It would be great to hear from Chip on those issues.

    Oh, a write-in vote is not wasted when there is only one candidate running. If there is only one canditate, then only one vote is necessary to elect that candidate. The only option in such a situation, if people really want a different candidate chosen, is to get people to agree on a different, promising candidate, and to write that person in! And that’s what I will do if my issue regarding accountability is still and issue come election day.

    AND, I will support whomever is elected.

    • Hal Jordan says:

      You proffer Robina as a “different, promising candidate”? Please…

      The issue you broached was that, should Mr. Schutte not respond as you deemed appropriate, you’d write in Robina’s name. You even went so far as to state that you “believe she might serve if elected through a popular response and write-in.” That statement, though, is – as Bacchus pointed out – directly contradictory to her own public comments on that very issue. So, it’s interesting that you’d toss that out there. (Although…a write-in for her saves her from actually having to face the public and answer for her decisions and choices since she wouldn’t have to openly campaign…hmmm…typical).

      There was ample time for other candidates to get their names on the ballot and openly campaign for the post; only 1 did. While it is a part of our democracy, a whispered write-in campaign is a lazy way to get elected. And…given both of Mr. Schutte’s responses, he seems to be very thorough, forthcoming, and on top of things.

  14. chip schutte says:

    Dear Jim, Nancy, & Disillusioned;

    whoa! you guys are tough-I didn’t anticipate being castigated just for not coming onto CDN for 4 days. but I took a peek today, my day off, and you guys are on my case. I guess, having seen no other positions by other candidates on here in the forum, that I hadn’t realized that the CDN had become the political forum du jour, but i guess that’s the case. Good for CDN.

    I’ll try to answer the questions as presented. One quick disclaimer, though. No one, no matter how armed with facts or skilled with rhetoric, can disprove the absence of a negative. the well-worn tactic of forcing ‘the accused to do that (see:Salem witch trials) merely proves the issue in the mind of the accuser is a foregone conclusion, and leads to no real discussion. I ain’t going there.

    To Jim: I give my word I shall act accountably, fairly, and as transparently as possible on behalf of my constituents, of which you are one. but i can’t commit to agree with every one, as there are a multitude of opinions out there. As to any past secret agenda on school construction, i was not aware of any. Emily and i, as the new members on the board at the time, came on in mid-stream, heard the architect in the public meetings give presentations on design-that was all. We all knew that if it went over budget, compromises would have to be made in design. We never got to the point of formal bids on the construction.

    Nancy-you asked my opinions on IB, AP, and Ag programs. thank you for your pertinent query. You also asked if I was too busy to be on the board-the activities I alluded to were all part of my duties on the School board at the time-trying to get the site plan approved. i have never been on either of the other Boards, and never attend those meetings if my presence is not required. Whatever volunteer activities I am part of now will cease if i am lucky enough to be elected. I realize from past experience what a time and energy commitment it is, and I’m ready to take it on.

    The IB and AP programs, as well as the bridge and dual-enrollment programs, in my mind, are advanced programs, complimentary in nature, designed to give apt students a chance to push ahead. All have their strengths, and are designed to help that significant part of the school population that plans to go on to college. in the past 2 weeks I have sat with my son, who is currently applying to colleges, and heard from interviewers directly, that such courses on one’s transcript do make a difference, even if there are not all “A’s”.

    In an ideal world, all would be well executed, open to all students, taught by well-trained teachers, be endorsed by the community, and produce above-average test scores. This is not an ideal world. my son this semester is taking a challenging AP course on a computer screen, with no teacher-not ideal. The openness of the system allows students not ready to take these courses to get in “over their head” and unwittingly contribute to holding the entire class back-not ideal. Continuing teacher turnover, due in part to lack of funding and budget cuts, puts good teachers in new classes that they haven’t taught before, with too little training specific to the course-not ideal. We are trying to do a lot. I endorse the recent school board decision to require qualification to get in these courses. that is a good first step. I do not favor cutting any of the programs at this time. Ours are not so much program problems, they are execution problems-execution problems can be fixed, if the budget allows. For instance, why do we only make the schedule available several days before the beginning of classes in the fall? it creates a nightmare for counseling, parents, students, with only a few days to resolve it. It has been a major source of bad feelings since my daughter started school in ’03-most other school districts make the fall schedule available in the spring, leaving plenty of time to plan. that would be a primary, functional, achievable goal for me.

    As to the AG program, and the vocational programs, they are also complimentary courses, in that they are not required by the state as part of the core curriculum, and these courses serve that part of our school population not planning to go to college, but they should be given equal weight. All classes-advanced, vocational,ag- are subject to there being sufficient students to warrant teaching the classes (otherwise one ends up, like my son, taking a class on a computer screen)-that, apparently, has been an issue for some of the ag classes. I don’t know the cure for that, as the classes are taken by choice. They also are open to all, as agriculture and vocational training are a big part of our culture here, and need to be retained. Like the other programs, they are highly dependent upon qualified teachers. Losing Bruce Johnson, who left I believe to teach in Warren County, was a big blow.

    To disillusioned-First, i am happy to say, the real estate mkt has not been slow for me this year-i have been busy, right up to the middle of August, when the annual vacation/back to school slowdown hit. I hope it stays that way! Second, it is difficult to respond to a question in which the tone is so negative. i hope this response has satisfied questions 1 and 3, which are essentially the same question. To question 2, I have been in regular contact with school board members, teachers (i am a parent of a student) and the superintendent, which i believe has kept me up on their take on the issues, and which is more efficient time-wise; also politics has no place in a meeting-my presence would have no positive effect on the meeting. To question 4, i will not be surprised if there is a write in campaign against me, as I said in my prior post-its part of democracy. Lastly, my prior post did not say “I am a good guy”. Jim Rieger said that in his post, and I appreciate the compliment, but i realize it is not germain to the subject at hand.

    My main point is that teachers are the key in education-more than school boards, administrators, etc. If we cant keep them, keep them happy, keep them trained, keep finding new good ones, give them a good platform from which to teach, and communicate to them how important they are to our program, then everything else is just a lot of wasted energy.

    one last disclaimer: i am going out of town with my son on a college visit Sunday morning(tis the season) and will not return until Tuesday, so please accept my apologies in advance if a response before then is indicated.

    chip Schutte

  15. Jim Rieger says:


    Thank you for your very thoughtful response. When I see you, I will shake your hand and thank you, again.