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Two compete for Fayetteville School Board seat

by Mary Jordan | May 1, 2021 at 1:02 a.m.
Megan Hurley (left) is running for her second term for the At-Large Position 1 seat with the Fayetteville School Board. Elisabeth Beasley (right)is making her first political bid for the At-Large Position 1 seat with the Fayetteville School Board. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Mary Jordan)

FAYETTEVILLE -- A hair dresser is challenging the incumbent for the School Board's at-large Position 1 seat.

Megan Hurley, 42, is running for her second term. She's a former public high school English teacher and previous owner of Barre3 fitness studio.

Elisabeth Beasley, 47, is making her first attempt for public office. The former marketing and project manager is a hairdresser at Ginger Salon Studio.

Because it's an at-large seat, all district residents may vote in the race. The winner of the May 18 election receives a five-year term. School board members are not paid. Early voting begins May 11.

Hurley sold Barre3 in July after seven years of ownership and focused on earning a law degree from the University of Arkansas, she said. She put her pursuit of the degree on hold at the beginning of April, she said.

"I just have had a lot on my plate," Hurley said. "I felt like I wasn't able to give it the focus it deserved."

Hurley won 55% of the vote in a two-way race to win her first term in 2016. She is the board's vice president.

The incumbent noted her efforts to positively impact the district, including her contributions to developing the strategic plan in 2019, helping to revise the discipline policy, contributing to new practices for evaluating the superintendent and providing feedback for investing $114 million in district facilities.

Her familiarity with the district is particularly valuable, Hurley said.

"There's just a tremendous learning curve, even coming in with experience in education," she said. "It takes two or three years to wrap your head around all of the departments and people and ways that things work."

Hurley's community service is primarily with the School Board, she said.

"It's a huge commitment," she said.

Hurley said she'd like to see the board direct its efforts toward what school will look like for students in the fall. She expressed concerns about learning gaps and mental health challenges for students because of the covid-19 pandemic.

"School is one of those places where every single issue that's in society washes up on our shore," Hurley said. "Everything that's going on winds up in our classrooms."

Hurley has two children: a third-grader at Washington Elementary and a fifth-grader at Owl Creek Elementary.

Beasley is mother to a sophomore at Fayetteville High School and two college students, ages 19 and 20. All three attended Fayetteville Public Schools for their entire K-12 education, she said.

She views board service as an opportunity to develop greater community partnerships for the district and to support teachers as they work during the pandemic.

"I want to see those community partnerships emphasized and taken advantage of," she said.

Beasley said she'd like to see the board partner with the University of Arkansas to address shared parking challenges with Fayetteville High.

"We have certainly outgrown our parking lot at Fayetteville High School," she said. "We're all butted up right against each other."

Beasley said the relationships she's formed in the community over the last 25 years and her experience problem solving in marketing and project management make her a good fit for the board.

"I pull connections together to problem solve," she said.

Beasley said she feels the board is operating well and has been through a lot during the pandemic.

"My desire really doesn't have anything to do with any kind of improvements," she said. "I think they're doing a fine job."

Beasley's community service has primarily been with the high school football booster club, she said.

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Megan Hurley

Age: 42

Residency: Fayetteville. She has lived in the district for about 13 years.

Employment: None.

Education: Master’s degree in English literature from the University of Arkansas.

Political Experience: Fayetteville School Board member since 2016.

Elisabeth Beasley

Age: 47

Residency: Fayetteville. She has lived in the district for 25 years.

Employment: Hair dresser.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Georgia.

Political Experience: None.

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