Savannah-Chatham school board candidates take questions

Four candidates vying for two seats on the Savannah-Chatham school board took questions during a forum Wednesday at Armstrong State University.

WSAV’s Tina Tyus-Shaw served as moderator for the two-hour forum and asked them 15 in-depth questions about everything from teacher shortages to school safety.

One of the hot-button issues was the security scare at Savannah Arts Academy last week. A threat had been circulating on social media that the school district determined to be false. But that information wasn’t shared in time so many parents kept their kids home.

Here is what the candidates said in part about the communication break-down:

“At 12:30 a.m., board members were made aware of what had happened,” said Connie Hall, the incumbent in the race for District 3. “If that message that came to us had gone on to the parents at about 5 a.m., then the whole situation could have been averted.”

“There are ways to almost immediately, once any situation is deemed concerning enough to notify parents, a way of being able to notify those parents in a timely enough manner so they can be put at ease about what’s happening in their child’s school,” said Rose Harper, the challenger for District 3.

“I think it comes back to being sure that we’re communicating a known or thought threat to our public and letting them know where we are with that,” said Joe Winburn, who’s running for District 7. “Whether it be an investigation or we’ve already investigated that (the threat) is not warranted. Whatever the message is, it needs to be communicated.”

“With all the technology that we have at our fingertips with smart phones, computers, laptops, tablets, everything, we need to figure out a system where we are able to directly contact parents whether it is by text message or email or some sort of way to communicate what is going on,” said Michael Johnson, who’s running for District 7.

Voters will decide the winners on May 24.

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