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Election 2012: Murfreesboro School Board

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On Tuesday, voters in Murfreesboro will select three members of the City Council and two members of the City School Board.

Here, The Murfreesboro Post focuses on the City School Board race.

City Council candidates were profiled last Sunday.

Murfreesboro City School Board members are elected at-large, meaning the top two vote-getters will take a seat.

This year, voters will select from seven candidates – incumbents Butch Campbell and Nancy Phillips; and challengers Jared Barrett, Dr. Andy Brown, Aaron Hall, Brian Lewis and Dorene Watson.

City voters will cast ballots for two other School Board seats in August.

The Post asked each candidate the same questions:

1. Why do you want to be on the Murfreesboro City School Board?

2. What is the most important problem or issue facing the school system?

3. How would you solve problem or issue?

Some of the responses have been edited for length.

Jared Barrett

Q1: I’m running for three reasons: to manage the growth of our schools, to continue investing in our children’s education, and to be a voice for educators on the school board.

Q2: I feel the most important issue facing the City Schools is growth, and it will continue to be a challenge. Around 200 students are projected to be added in the upcoming school year alone.

Q3: I would solve this issue by rehabilitating our older schools to handle the growth and by maximizing the space we currently have. I feel the City Schools have done a good job handling the growth, and I would like the opportunity to help continue to meet the challenge.

Dr. Andy Brown

Q1: As a pediatrician, my professional career has been centered on the physical, emotional and educational needs of children. My immediate family has eight teachers who are currently teaching or have taught in public schools. The future of America depends on the education we give the students of today.

Q2: Excellent teachers are leaving the classroom because of frustration regarding external mandates. And I am concerned that today’s students are being taught to meet external mandates instead of learning for the sake of knowledge. Every child should have equal access to learning opportunities and technology. Even though student demographics vary greatly from school to school, our system can only be as strong as its weakest school.

Q3: I will work with Linda Gilbert and School Board members to provide teachers and students with the best possible atmosphere to maximize the educational opportunities for all.

Butch Campbell

Q1: I want to continue what I’ve done for the last four years. I have had 41 years of experience with public schools, and I think I have a lot of knowledge and experience to offer in helping Murfreesboro City Schools continue to strive.

Q2: Right now, growth is very important, and teacher morale is also important. We are having to add portable classrooms, and we need to build an additional school. The new teacher evaluation system is hurting morale, but we are making progress in dealing with that and trying to help teachers educate our children in the public school system.

Q3: By continually speaking with legislators concerning the new evaluation model and seeking changes to that process. I have consistently talked with state Sen. Jim Tracy and state Rep. Joe Carr. They have listened. We must be proactive in building schools to stay ahead on our pupil-teacher ratio and keep from building portables.

Aaron Hall

Q1: I love my hometown of Murfreesboro, and I love the school system where I began my education and where my mother, Dianne Hall, has taught for almost 20 years. In the course of representing the interests of children in Rutherford Juvenile Court who have been abused or abandoned by their parents, as well as children accused of delinquent acts, I have seen up close the challenges facing the youth of Murfreesboro today.

Q2: The most important issue facing our schools is the extraordinary growth we have seen over the past decade. This has necessitated the costly construction of new schools across the city as well as renovations of our pre-existing facilities. This has also brought many problems not previously experienced at great magnitude to our city, such as gang violence and synthetic drugs.

Q3: If elected, I would examine every spending decision closely to ensure that our money is being spent efficiently. While a new school may be a necessity, extravagant architecture is not. I would also continue to support and expand the D.A.R.E. and GREAT programs to educate the children of Murfreesboro about the dangers of gangs and drugs.

Brian Lewis

Q1: I have a son at Scales Elementary, and it has been a very positive experience. We are very satisfied with the principal there, and good things are happening there. I want to make sure other children in the City School system have the same opportunities.

Q2: Making sure our local community has as much involvement as possible in what goes on in the schools. The state and federal government are having a greater and greater influence on local schools, but Murfreesboro parents know what is best for Murfreesboro schools.

Q3: It is important to identify parents and other community members who are active in each of the schools and reach out to them in order to see how we can get others just as active and involved. The board has done a good job in voicing its opinion about certain state and federal guidelines that it doesn’t agree with, and I want to make sure we do more of that where appropriate.

Nancy Phillips

Q1: I have a real passion for education and children. I believe that a good, strong public education is an important part of the foundation of our democracy. With a good education, a child can carve out a future with promise. I appreciate and enjoy being a part of that promise for our boys and girls. Also, with the tremendous changes in education in our state, and with the loss on our board of several veteran board members, it is important to have some stability.

Q2: I believe that the most important issue currently facing our system is dealing effectively with the changing state academic standards. We must continue to grow academically, while supporting our classroom teachers and making sure our kids learn critical thinking skills as well as subject mastery.

Q3: We try to address situations that might hamper a child’s ability to learn. It is hard for a sick or hungry child to learn. Some children need extra one-on-one time to overcome reading challenges or math struggles, and some need homework help. We have updated our textbooks ahead of schedule to make sure we have the most up-to-date curriculum. We must stay the course and continue the measures and practices that have fueled that success.

Dorene Watson

Q1: I am a parent with two children in the city school system and I have a vested interest in their education. I want to be an advocate for all children in our community. I feel it is important to be interested in the education of our children because the children of today will be the leaders in our community tomorrow.

Q2: The necessity to keep up with the ever-changing technology needed to give our children the best education possible, and giving our teachers a great support system. We need adequate technology for all our children to meet today’s educational requirements.

Q3: Both issues can be resolved with a well-reviewed budget and better communication between school board members and teachers. The focus should always be our children’s safety and their success in learning. Education should inspire learning, motivation and interest. As I see it, it is our job as elected officials to make sure that our teachers and our students are given the opportunity to reach their full potential and be successful.
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City, City Schools, Education, Elections, MCS, Murfreesboro, Politics, Road Board, Rutherford County, School Board
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