Aistrop, a mother of two elementary-age children, has picked up nominating petitions and announced her intent to run for a 1st District seat on the school board earlier this week.
“The reason I want to run is because someone has to stand up for these kids, teachers and parents. There has to be an advocate to make sure fairness and equality is across the board at every single school in Washington County,” Aistrop, a 1999 graduate of Daniel Boone, said.
Fairness and equality are two traits Aistrop believes the school system lacks.
“Some classrooms are missing textbooks. Some classrooms have Smart boards (and) some classrooms have laptops,” Aistrop said.
“I don't understand, and no one can give me a clear answer as to who is chosen for these specific items. Why are we sharing textbooks, like the third grade (her son’s class) at Jonesborough is? I don't know what other classes are, but I know there aren't enough textbooks in the county for each student.”
One of her goals, if elected, is to identify ways to “level out the learning environment” for every school in the county.
Enhancing communication between the board and parents and teachers is another of Aistrop’s priorities.
“We need more accessible board members that make time to talk with parents, hear their concerns and represent their thoughts,” she added.
A lifelong resident of Washington County, Aistrop has been married for 15 years and has two children who attend Jonesborough Elementary, one in first grade and one in third grade.
Aistrop graduated from East Tennessee State University in 2005, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She also studied education for a time at Lincoln Memorial University and currently works as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
With a dwindling population and shrinking revenues, Aistrop said she understands there might be some tough decisions during her term and she’s prepared to make them, if need be, and handle the criticism that’s sure to follow.
“There is going to be decisions that are hard, but I feel you have to get the community involvement. That's where I feel that the ball was dropped with the Jonesborough school (project),” Aistrop said.
“If you get the community involvement in the very beginning and not at the end then I think, as a community, we can all work together to come up with a solution that's going to satisfy the majority.”
Aistrop considered running for school board a few years ago, while her son was in kindergarten and she attended a meeting to denounce a test his class was given. She said the board heard her case and ultimately voted to terminate administering the test.
“At that point, I realized I needed to be on the board, I just wasn't sure when the time was right. I feel 100 percent confident the time is right now,” Aistrop said.
“I have attended meetings on and off since my son was in kindergarten, but especially in the last four or five months, I have learned so much about what’s going on in a lot of the schools. I feel now is probably one of the most important times I could run.”
As it relates to Director of Schools Kimber Halliburton, Aistrop said she agrees with the director on some things but disagrees on others.
Six county school board seats, three in the 1st District and three in the 3rd District, will be up for election in the Aug. 2 general election.
So far, David Hammond is the only school board incumbent to pick up papers to run again, although nominating petitions only been available five days.
Joining Aistrop in the District 1 race is Telford’s Jason Day and Jonesborough’s Mickey Trivett. Dwight Jenkins of Gray has picked up a petition to run for District 3.
Email Zach Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.