BOE candidates stress dual enrollment, career tech

Published 12:15 am Thursday, May 29, 2014

Candidates for Covington County School Board Place 5 say the biggest issues facing the school system are increasing dual enrollment opportunities, career tech, technology, Common Core and safety.

Former superintendent Terry Holley said he’s adamant about dual enrollment and career tech.

“The door is wide open, and we need to take advantage,” he said. “There are more scholarships available in the state, and we should go after those. The average skilled person is 55. We need skilled workers in our county.”

Additionally, Holley said the school system has to try to keep up with technology.

“It’s a changing world,” he said.

Incumbent and longtime board member Jimmy Prestwood said the board is now dealing with Common Core.

“There are concerns,” he said. “This is adopted by the State Department of Education. We are moving away from recall and memorization to critical and analytical thinking. The materials and curriculum is what people have concerns about. We addressed those issues locally with principals and teachers. They have values that reflect the community. We don’t want to go out in left field on some issues that are controversial to our parents.”

Additionally, Prestwood said the safety of students is important.

“We have gone to great lengths for provisions for some things we hear about in the news media,” he said. “We’ve practiced for lockdowns, severe weather. I think our people feel comfortable keeping our kids safe.”

Both Prestwood and Holley have extensive experience in the county school system, which both say makes them great assets to the board.

“I’ve had 30-plus years,” Holley said. “I know how involved our teachers are. Having ben a principal at all levels, I understand the day-to-day operations of the schools. While I was superintendent, I had the day-to-day of running all schools for four years. Decisions have to be made daily.”

Prestwood leans on his understanding of how a board is run, and his education experience.

“I have served on the board since 1990,” he said. “After I retired from teaching and coaching, serving as a board member was not what I thought it would be. There is the position as the board to make policy. I didn’t realize that. We do vote on issues that come to the board. I believe my experience and the ability to work with other board members is key. Sometimes you have to make concessions. You have to work with others in making decisions. We have dealt with lawsuits, tragedies and academic issues. It is different from teaching and coaching. Board members do not run the schools. We allow our principals and superintendent to do their jobs within board policy.”

Holley agreed there is a chain of command.

“It starts with our teachers and goes to the principals, superintendent and then the board,” he said. “Our role is to support at each level. The superintendent is like a CFO, bringing recommendations, and the board analyzes and passes.”

Prestwood said it’s important for board members to be public servants.

“We’ve got to keep our eyes on the ball,” he said. “We are here to serve the public and to make sure that we do the very best for our kids.”

Prestwood said each board member represents the county.

“I’ve had an open-door policy, in that parents many times have issues and concerns about our schools,” he said. “We have to listen to them to stay in touch. I think it’s important to not only communicate with parents, but with teachers and support personnel, as well. “

Holley said he has always had an open-door policy in his leadership roles.

“If I meet someone in the Co-op or Cox Hardware, I should be able to speak with them,” he said. “If I’m at Walmart, I should answer their questions. That’s my responsibility. We are working for the people and they should have a voice.”

The winner of the school board race will be decided in the Tues., June 3 Republican primary, as no one is seeking election as a Democrat.