Office sought: Floyd County School Board District
Political Party: Democrat
Office sought: Floyd County School Board District 2
Occupation: Retired school teacher
What do you think about the proposed charter legislation that has generated so much controversy?
Ballard: As to the proposed charter legislation generating so much controversy, I say it needs to be looked at with a wider eye to the future. I am strongly against it for a number of reasons. The state has enough problems trying to run itself, with all of the drastic austerity cuts to public education. The state has consistently run down public education while promoting an amendment that essentially will let anyone who has a building apply for a “charter school” that will siphon our tax dollars away from needed public schools. While Floyd County already has a charter school system that is doing quite well, I have also been around long enough to know that when schools are able to pick and choose their students, that is the definition of a private school. The public education system that is already in place should be invested in and it will do well despite the state’s best efforts to shut it down. Vote No on Amendment 1 to restore the true value of public education to the taxpayers who are footing the bill and seeing fewer results.
Cox: The proposed charter legislation has generated much controversy. Both sides are passionate about their stances. The Floyd County Board of Education already has the authority to approve or disapprove a charter school in our community. I cannot support legislation that takes away local control of schools. Therefore as a private citizen, I will vote no.
With school systems suffering through years of budget cuts, how do you maximize every dollar?
Ballard: How do you maximize dollars in spite of budget cuts? Simple. Vote Democratic. As Democrats, we started the HOPE Scholarship and we need to work with the Republican House and Senate who has made all these cuts in the first place. I have always fought for quality for public education and I will do just that.
Cox: In 2008, my first year in office, Floyd County Schools budget was 98 million dollars. In 2012, the budget is close to 84 million dollars. That is a 14 million dollar reduction in four years. One of the specific ways that the Floyd County School Board has maximized every dollar is with the use of zero based line item budget. Each month the superintendent, directors, and the budget steering committee meet and discuss each line item. His only happens with strong leadership from the Superintendent. This process of budget reduction is an ongoing process.
With Superintendent Lynn Plunkett retiring, what qualities do you think are important for the next superintendent to have?
Ballard: Since the candidates for superintendent has already been narrowed down to two, I feel that he should come from our own school system. He will already have the needed relationships to move the board forward.
Cox: The next superintendent must have these important qualities:
a. act with personal and professional integrity
b. be knowledgeable about educating children
c. be responsive to the values of the community, staff, board, and students
d. be a skilled communicator
e. be prudent in the management of school funds and facilities
Acting with personal and professional integrity is a priority for me. This person will be trusted to educate our children and grandchildren. These are our greatest resources.
What would your primary goals be as a board member?
Ballard: My primary goal as a board member is to work very hard with the other board members, superintendent and all of the other departments of the Floyd County School System such as the faculty, Transportation Department, the Food Coordinator with her very fine staff and lastly, I will work hard with the building Maintenance Department that keeps a very clean, safe learning environment for our children and teachers.
Cox: My primary goals for the next four years are as follows:
a. must have high expectations for student achievement and quality instruction.
b. must hire an excellent superintendent
c. must manage the budget efficiently by adopting sound policy on how local tax dollars are spent.
d. must be a representative of the entire community.
What other current educational issues are you concerned with right now and in the near future?
Ballard: It is well known that our schools in Floyd County are doing better than the national average so that tells me that our faculty is doing a very good job. I will empower them to continue this work by being available anytime for them to work on issues as they arise. I am also pleased with the Parent Resource Center where teachers have online assistance for students. We will soon see their Literature and Arts online soon and I know it will be a success as great as our Mathematics.
Cox: I am concerned about several educational issues. The first issue is the Common Core State Standards initiative. It is a new effort to establish a common set of clear educational standards for English-Language Arts and math. This must be evaluated on a yearly basis. The second issue that I am concerned about is high school rigor. Taking advanced placement classes can have a positive impact on whether a student finishes their postsecondary education. The third issue is the implementation of state high school exit exams. This will give parents and teachers an excellent evaluation tool.