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Five school board seats up for grabs in General Election

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Candidates talk about important issues in education

By Calen McKinney

 

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Five school board seats are up for grabs this year, with winners to be announced after voters make their decisions on Nov. 6.

Three of the seats - two of which are the only of the five with opposition - are for spots on the Taylor County School Board.

Incumbent Jim Cheatham has filed to once again serve as the representative of the 3rd District. He faces no opposition.

Three people want the 4th District seat. Incumbent Tony Davis faces Doyle Berry and Benjamin Bright to keep his post.

In the 5th District race, incumbent Lillian Clark faces newcomers Joey Wasson and Ronnie Harden.

Two of the five Campbellsville School Board seats are up for grabs. Current members Pat Hall and Barkley Taylor have filed to keep their spots. They face no opposition.

The News-Journal mailed candidate questionnaires to all candidates in races with opposition. All candidates in the races for the 4th and 5th District Taylor County School Board seats returned the questionnaires. Their answers are printed below.

The complete questionnaires are also posted at the bottom of this story.

School board members are charged with discussing and making decisions about various school issues, from funding and personnel to much more.

Doyle Berry

Doyle Berry lives with his wife, Joyce, and son, Cody, at 750 Wilson Creek Road. He lists his education as Jeffersonville High School, Indiana Fire School at Indiana University Southeast, Memphis Fire School, Ivy Tech College and the APPA Institute for Facilities Management. He is a certified master firefighter.

Berry has worked in fire services for 20 years and at Ivy Tech College for eight years on a full- and part-time basis.

He wrote that he is running for public office because children’s education is their passport to the future and is the Board members’ responsibility.

“How we pay for it is my concern,” he wrote.

The three most important issues facing schools today, he wrote, are federal and state budget cuts, rapidly changing technology and educational requirements and getting students prepared for college and to achieve their educational goals.

Berry said he believes he is the best candidate for election.

“If elected, you can count on me to make fiscally sound investments in our kids’ future, based on common sense values.”

Benjamin Bright

Benjamin Bright, 26, is married to Samantha Bright. His parents are Ricky Bright and Stella Bright. His brother is Adam Bright, who is married to Normaida Bright.

He graduated from Taylor County High School in 2004 and has completed two years of studies at Campbellsville University.

Bright has worked for four and a half years at Hendrickson Axle as a robot operator and welder and for about 10 years as a heavy equipment operator for Brightway Excavating.

He wrote that he decided to run for public office because he believes he can make a difference.

“I want to have a hand in making important decisions that change our community and our children’s future,” he wrote. “I want to represent the area I live in and work with the people to improve the students’ education and school experience.”

The three most important issues facing schools today are making sure that teachers, curriculum and technology are all current.

“I feel we cannot afford to not always strive to make our children’s education the best that it possibly can be.”

The second issue, he wrote, is the budget.

“With these uncertain and changing times, getting the funding to run and maintain our schools is getting harder by the day. This means we just have to strive to spend the money smarter and more efficiently.”

Lastly, Bright wrote that he believes the renovation of the schools is another important issue.

“I know this is a highly controversial issue with many people in the Taylor County School District. Many people believe that we should renovate all the schools and build a new high school. Some believe that we should just build a new elementary school.

“We need to work together and do what we can now with what money we have, instead of spending money trying to figure out what to do. I believe if we all work together, we can come up with a solution that everybody can get on board with.”

Bright wrote that he believes he is the best candidate because the Board needs some new perspectives.

“Some people may see my age as a disadvantage. However, I see it as one of my greatest assets. For what I may lack in experience, I can make up for in passion and enthusiasm.

“If elected, I will stand up and fight to make sure that the voices of the voters in the 4th District are heard. We all have the common goal of making sure that our children have the best possible education and future we can give them.”

Tony Davis

Incumbent Tony Davis, 63, is married to DeeDee Davis. They have a son, Jordan, and a daughter, Christy, and two grandchildren, Haley and Gavin Vetter.

Davis lists his education as Taylor County High School.

He worked at Parker Kalon for 22 years, leaving as a manufacturing control manager, and at Cox Interior for 18 years, ending as a purchasing manager. Davis has been retired for two years.

Davis wrote that he decided to run for public office because he has always enjoyed working with youth and wants to continue working to make sure the Taylor County School District is one of the best in the state.

The three most important issues facing schools, Davis wrote, are replacing the Taylor County Elementary School building, overcrowding at Taylor County middle and high schools and funding issues for the two previously mentioned issues as well as public education cuts.

Davis said he believes he should be re-elected because of his experience.

“Nineteen years of experience, I feel, gives me the knowledge to continue working towards the issues facing our schools.”

He wrote that he has two years’ experience as regional chairman of the Kentucky School Board Association and served two years on the advisory committee for the Commissioner of Education.

“One of the most important things is having helped with the formation of performance based education in the Taylor County School System. With the success of this program, Taylor County has been recognized throughout the state as a leader in education for our youth.

“Test scores are up, ACT scores are up and our students have the opportunity to receive an excellent education.”

Lillian Clark

Lillian Clark is married to Dr. Robert Clark and has four children.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Belmont University, a master’s degree from Vanderbilt University and a Rank 1 from Western Kentucky University.

She has 30 years’ experience in education, working as an English teacher and in guidance. Clark has served on the Board for 18 years.

She wrote that she decided to run for public office because she wants to continue working to build new schools.

“I believe I have the background to help guide Taylor County Schools to higher levels of success.”

The three most important issues facing schools today are facilities that need replacing, improving the rigor of classroom instruction to meet newly revised standards and keeping technology updated for students and staff members.

Clark said there are three reasons she should be re-elected, including her experience, educational background and commitment to school improvement.

Joey Wasson

Joey Wasson, 41, is married to Crissy Wasson and has three children, including a daughter, Kim, 21, who graduated from Taylor County High School, a son, Devan, 12, who is seventh-grader at Taylor County Middle School, and Isabella, 3. His mother is Janet Hancock.

Wasson graduated from Campbellsville University in 1999 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in teaching English and political science.

He wrote that he has worked for five years as an educator, has spent 15 years in the technology industry and was honorably discharged from the United States Navy in 1993.

Wasson wrote that he is running for public office because he believes he can contribute to the Board.

“I believe I can contribute a great deal of experience and expertise to the school system that is responsible for the education of my children and yours. I also believe each of us has an obligation to serve our community when we are able.”

The three most important issues facing schools today are finding a permanent solution for building issues at Taylor County Elementary School.

“This building is an unacceptable learning environment for our elementary students. As a community, we must find a way to solve this problem within the parameters of a constricted budget.”

Wasson wrote that also important is academic success, which is a never-ending challenge facing every school system.

“Our school system has been blessed with educators who have made amazing academic progress. However, we can never become complacent because academic success for all students should always be our driving force.”

And for the third important issue, he wrote, “finding a way to keep educators in the classroom instead of the unemployment line has been a huge issue for our district.”

Wasson wrote that he believes he is the best candidate because of his experience.

“I have many years of experience as an educator and as an educational technology professional. My vast experience with technical construction will allow me to see things others might not as we move forward with new construction plans in our district.

“Also, many parents and school employees know they can freely voice their concerns to me because I have been involved in education and athletics in this community for several years. I want every parent, student, teacher and administrator to know I will listen to them and be their voice on the school board.”

Ronnie Harden

Ronnie Harden, 49, is married to Debbie Harden, who is employed at Kroger Pharmacy. He has a daughter, Shelby, who is a junior at Taylor County High School.

He graduated from TCHS in 1981 and retired from the Taylor County School System after 22 years of service.

He has worked at Forcht Bank since 1995.

Harden wrote that he decided to run for public office because he wants to serve the students and staff and “represent the people of the 5th School Board District in the best way I possibly can.”

The three most important issues facing schools, he said, are the state not giving schools enough funding, class sizes being too large with more individualized instruction needed to prepare students for college and to become contributing members of society and finding ways to motivate parents into becoming more involved with their children’s education.

Harden wrote that he believes he is the best candidate because he has lived and worked in Taylor County his entire life.

“During my tenure at Taylor County Schools, I was in contact with the students and staff daily. At my present job with Forcht Bank, I work in the community every day.

“I hear and understand what the community and the people of the 5th School Board District want and expect from their school system and I am willing to make the tough decisions on their behalf.”

Election Series

This is the fourth in a series of seven stories about the races with opposition on the General Election ballot on Nov. 6.

On Oct. 29, candidates for the Taylor County Circuit Court Clerk position will be featured.

Candidate stories will end Nov. 1 with information about the 15 candidates who have filed for the 12 slots on the Campbellsville City Council.

A story in the Nov. 5 issue will tell voters where and when to vote, along with other information about the election.