Former teacher Melissa Byrd filed Friday to run for Orange County School Board District 7, a seat expected to be open for a special election in 2018 because incumbent Christine Moore is running for the Orange County Commission.
Byrd, 42, of Apopka, is married to political consultant Alan Byrd, owner of the public relations and marketing firm Alan Byrd & Associates.
She is the first to enter the District 7 race since Moore announced her candidacy for the Orange County Commission in early October. Technically, Byrd filed to run in 2020, allowing her to begin raising campaign funds. If and when Moore resigns to stay in her commission race, a special election would be called for the school board seat and Byrd could refile her candidacy papers for that election and transfer all her campaign cash.
Byrd said her focus is improving the schools in northwest Orange County, specifically in four areas: educational opportunities, classroom environment, teacher advocacy and community schools.
“As a parent and a former teacher, I know there are many avenues we need to explore to improve our children’s educational opportunities,” Byrd said in a news release. “There are only two A schools in District 7 and that is simply unacceptable to me and to the parents I’ve talked to.”
Throughout Orange County, approximately one in three schools are A-rated. In District 7, fewer than one of every 10 schools is A-rated, the release added.
Byrd is a Central Florida native and received her degree in elementary education from the University of Central Florida. She taught for several years at Forest City Elementary School and performed multiple leadership roles, such as the Title I reading resource teacher, working with struggling readers in all grades, according to the release. After that, Byrd taught at Pace Brantley Hall School, where she specialized in working with children with learning differences in first through fourth grade.
In 2003, after the birth of her first daughter, Byrd left the classroom to raise her children, Abigail, 14, and Madeline, 10. She still works as a substitute teacher for Orange County Public Schools, working at elementary, middle and high schools in northwest Orange County.
She currently serves as the PTSA vice president and chair of the School Advisory Council at Piedmont Lakes Middle School. At Clay Springs Elementary School, she volunteers at multiple PTA events and was a regular classroom volunteer.