JIMMY ATKINS *
FAMILY: Wife, Donna; daughter, Elisa, 16; son, Jacob, 12
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: Eight years on the board of education; two years as board president (2007, 2008)
EDUCATION: Augusta State University, associate’s degree in accounting; Brenau University, bachelor’s degree in business administration
ATKINS ON STATE FUNDING CUTS: We have actually been cut $136 million in austerity reductions over the last 10 years and have been able to balance the budget each year. We need to continue to lobby with our federal and state legislatures to ensure that the education system is fully funded.
ATKINS ON TEST SCORES/STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: We have to continued to work with the superintendent and his staff to make sure that we are using innovative ways to reach our students and make sure that we have highly qualified teachers in each classroom.
ATKINS ON FURLOUGH DAYS: We need to continue to find ways to cut spending and not raise property taxes … We cannot completely eliminate furlough days until the state legislatures agree to fully fund public education.
ATKINS ON HIRING PRACTICES: The board needs to always be diligent in auditing the personnel records of those candidates who were not selected and verify that the most qualified individuals are being hired and promoted.
FAMILY: Wife, Janet; son, Rob, 17; daughter, Hannah, 13
POLITICAL EXPERIENCE: None
EDUCATION: Butler High School
CHEEK ON STATE FUNDING CUTS: The Board must find new and innovative ways to eliminate wasteful and inefficient spending, stretching tax dollars to balance the budget without sacrificing the needs of our students and teachers.
CHEEK ON TEST SCORES/STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT: I would work to keep teachers in the classroom longer, reduce class sizes, and give them the tools and support they need to teach our kids. Encourage parental involvement.
CHEEK ON FURLOUGH DAYS: We need a top-down assessment and reduction of overhead spending, from determining the necessity of positions and qualifications of administration, to better management of perks such as employees driving county vehicles home.
CHEEK ON HIRING PRACTICES: There are big problems with the hiring practices. There are those striving to improve themselves and putting forth the effort to move up in the system, only to be overlooked for a less qualified friend or relative of a Board member.
* Indicates incumbent