Newly appointed School Board member John “Dawson” Boyer has helped raise thousands of dollars to fill needs at Thomas Jefferson High School when a cash-strapped school district couldn’t.
With the Tee Jay Vikings Fund, founded in 2013, he helped raise more than $170,000 for the high school. As vice president, Boyer helped oversee the renovation of the school’s weight room, which was closed because it was in disrepair. His group also provided team uniforms and goal posts, renovated locker rooms dating to the 1970s and worked with alumni to replace a wooden marquee erected in the late 1950s.
Boyer says that he considers his appointment, announced last week, as a way to continue his efforts on a larger scale, and has ended his role with the Vikings Fund.
He fills the 1st District seat left vacant by Glen Sturtevant, who won election to the state Senate. After Boyer completes his 10-month term, he says he wants to run for the School Board seat in November’s general election.
One of his highest priorities is addressing the entire school division’s infrastructure needs, he says -- and it’s a herculean task.
Earlier this month, the board proposed its $293 million budget, which represents an $18 million increase from the current year. It also has asked the city for $18 million that was set aside for the district last year, which would be used to fund a $19 million emergency measure to address overcrowding in schools.
But that’s a drop in the bucket for the $169 million first phase of a 15-year plan to overhaul school facilities.
“It’s obviously a big undertaking, but things need to be dealt with as soon as possible,” Boyer says of facilities needs. “You can’t have anyone, especially children, in a building that’s not properly heated or cooled.”
The 30-year-old Virginia Military Institute graduate also says that teaching students the principles of entrepreneurship is a personal goal outside of his role on the School Board. He’s a real estate agent and the co-owner of the family business Boyer’s Ice Cream and Coffee at Libbie and Grove avenues, which frequently hires teenage employees.
“We really try to not just provide them a job, but provide them a job where we can invest in them and it prepares them for whatever their next job is going to be,” he says. “[We] try to educate them on the nuts and bolts of how business actually works, as opposed to them just making lattes and bagel sandwiches, and scooping ice cream.”