In just two weeks, the Jasper County School District’s staff will answer to some new faces, an entire new school board. There are 16 candidates running for the nine open seats on the board. On Thursday night, nine out of those 16 answered questions submitted by citizens in an open forum hosted by the Jasper County Chamber of Commerce.
Parents, teachers, and the community, have been long awaiting the upcoming special school board election, ever since a federal judge redrew the school district’s zoning. The district has seen its share of controversy, from years of failing test scores, and an FBI investigation last year.
On Thursday night, a Ridgeland audience applauded nine school board candidates who talked plans for change.
“I’d like to see smaller class sizes, and more teachers,” said Jerold Murray, District 7 candidate.
“I am very much in support of more teachers and less administration,” said Thaddeus Smith, District 4 candidate.
“The money has got to go to the classroom. Everybody’s been beating that horse to death,” said Randy Horton, an incumbent, District 4 candidate.
The candidates say the district can pull-up its failing grades, by getting smaller classroom sizes, and paying teachers more and administrators less.
“Can you imagine trying to teach 34 kindergarten students?” District 3 candidate Roy Pryor asked.
“The priorities in my mind are students, parents, teachers, taxpayers,” said Kevin Karg, District 5 candidate.
Others said there should be more effort to reach-out for parent involvement.
“I like for parents to be able to come in at any point, to visit with their students or their child, or to look around period and see what’s going on,” said Jannette Scott, District 5 candidate.
“Our teachers are asking for assistance. Our kids are begging for help. Our parents need to be welcomed in, we need to educate the child and educate the parent,” said Priscilla Green, District 9 candidate.
Others said the current school board has much to improve upon, and are optimistic it will come with a change from voters electing fresh faces into office.
“…Be well familiar with group dynamics, how to work as a team, and I’ve done that numerous times in my career,” Rodney Brown, District 5 candidate, said of his qualities he wishes to bring to office.
“We’ve got lots of ideas, but we’re not allowed to share those. If they are shared, they’re never enacted,” said incumbent and District 2 candidate Debora Butler.
The election will be September 22. Polls open at 7 a.m., and close at 7 p.m. NEWS 3 will be following the results.