Originally created 10/17/00

Forum targets school board races



Melanie Love is pretty sure who she will vote for to represent her in District 8 of the Richmond County school board.

Her decision was made Monday after school board candidates answered questions during a forum at Cross Creek High school. The forum was sponsored by the school's athletic booster club.

"There were a lot of questions where they didn't answer directly," Ms. Love said. "But I have a pretty good idea of who I will vote for. I wish some of the other candidates were in my district."

Fourteen of the 17 candidates running for a seat on the school board attended the forum. They are vying for five open seats on the 10-member board.

The candidates were given one minute to tell the nearly 60 people in the school gymnasium why they deserve a seat on the board. They were then presented with three rounds of questions, submitted in writing, from the audience.

The first question asked District 1 candidates Marion Barnes and Christopher Lowe what could be learned from the magnet schools and what from the magnet schools could be used in all schools.

Mr. Barnes said the discipline contracts signed by the magnet school students should be emulated by all schools.

Mr. Lowe said all schools take the magnet school approach.

In District 4, incumbent Andrew Jefferson was the only candidate to show up. Alphonza Griffin and Bernard Harper were absent.

Mr. Jefferson was asked how the district could lower class sizes with the shortage of teachers. Mr. Jefferson said the district is encouraging teaching assistants to become certified teachers.

The five candidates running in District 8 were asked what they would do to enhance school safety.

Jeff Padgett said schools should be operated in a way that would provide the most safety for students.

Brad Owens said he would hire additional safety officers.

William David Cruise said he would take security out of the hands of teachers and put more money toward metal detectors.

Burles Johnson said he would get parents involved, having them sign a contract to the effect that if their child misbehaves the child will be sent to the alternative school.

Fredrick Smith said he would use the school's best resource - the students. He said a program should be devised where students would feel comfortable telling teachers and other school officials about students who are dangerous.

District 9 candidates - Johnny Hatney, Mildred McDaniel and Willie W. Law IV - were asked how they would make themselves accessible. The candidates said they would provide their telephone numbers to constituents. Candidate Venus Cain was absent.

District 10 candidates were asked what would improve education the most.

Candidate Wilson Rice suggested a parent center in each school and staff development given to teachers and students.

Candidate Helen Minchew said getting parents involved and providing teacher support would be the most important things.

Candidate Bob Gardner said he would take away the massive paper work that teachers have to do and institute a no-excuses policy for students and teachers.

Reach Faith Johnson at (706) 823-3765.