Candidates for Post 2 on the Franklin County Board of Education present platforms

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Editor’s note: The Franklin County Citizen Leader presented each local candidate with a set of general questions ahead of the June 9 primary. Stories written from the answers provided will be published over the next few weeks ahead of the election.

  • Incumbent Jo Beth James (left) is facing challenger Kent Hall (right) in the race for the Post 2 seat on the Franklin County Board of Education.
    Incumbent Jo Beth James (left) is facing challenger Kent Hall (right) in the race for the Post 2 seat on the Franklin County Board of Education.
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Editor’s note: The Franklin County Citizen Leader presented each local candidate with a set of general questions ahead of the June 9 primary. Stories written from the answers provided will be published over the next few weeks ahead of the election.

Hall aims to create ‘team experience’ in system

CARNESVILLE – Former member Kent Hall wants to return to the Franklin County Board of Education to improve communication and teamwork in the system.

“I would like to see us all work together cohesively,” Hall said. “We need to create a team chemistry between the board, superintendent, administrators, teachers and staff. I believe sound policy should be implemented to all schools in the county, and every school from elementary to high should be on the same page. The more we work together, the more effective we can be in service to our students, teachers and taxpayers.”

Hall previously served on the school board from 2002-14 as the Post 4 representative on the board. He is seeking the Post 2 seat in the June 9 primary.

A diversified crop and livestock farmer, Hall is a lifelong resident of the Bold Spring community and 1982 graduate of Franklin County High School. 

He is an active member of Liberty Baptist Church, where he serves as a deacon and a former softball and basketball coach for Little League, the Franklin County Recreation Department and travel teams for 15 years. 

Hall is involved in the Franklin County Young Farmers chapter and a volunteer with the Bold Spring Fire Department. 

He has been married to the former Jill Murphy for 33 years. They have two daughters, Kalie and Cassie. 

Hall’s past school board service and involvement in the community gives him qualities that will benefit the school system.

“Integrity is of utmost importance, and citizens can be sure that I will be honest and seek to do what is best for our teachers and students,” Hall said. “I bring 12 years of experience as a member of the board of education, during which setting policies and working with superintendents to make positive improvements in Franklin County schools was primary. I am willing to listen and work with others of differing viewpoints to make the best decisions. As a farmer of 38 years, I have been making short and long term financial decisions to ensure the sustainability and growth of our farm. This skill is critical in stewarding taxpayer resources for the good of our students.” 

The Franklin County School System will face a big challenge as the county continues to grow, he said.

“As industry grows in Franklin and neighboring counties, the population of students our system serves will grow,” Hall said. “We must be mindful of spending SPLOST [special purpose local option sales tax] funds wisely to help alleviate the potential increased burden on taxpayers.”

The school system needs to improve student test performance, the candidate said. 

“I would like to see our test scores be at the top of our RESA [Regional Educational Service Area] district,” Hall said. “It would also be beneficial for our school board and board of commissioners to work together to ensure that proper industry is attracted to the county to not overload the school system and taxpayers as we invest in resources to help students reach these goals.”

Hall said he is running because he believes he can help with decisions that will shape Franklin County schools for the future. 

“I have a basic understanding of grading and construction that will be valuable as we prepare to expand facilities to meet the needs of our students,” he said. “I support each student having a variety of opportunities in academics and all extracurricular activities.” 

Due to the current situation the coronavirus pandemic, which mandates social distancing, Hall said he is unable to see voters face-to-face, but encourages voters to contact him with questions or concerns at 706-654-7108. 

“I would appreciate your vote and support,” he said.

 

 

James seeks to continue calling to serve others

 

ROYSTON – Incumbent Jo Beth James is running for reelection to the Franklin County Board of Education to continue her service to the community.

“I want to continue to listen to the stakeholders,” James said. “I am here to serve as your public servant. I am a strong believer that growth within any system comes from listening to the opinions and ideas of all stakeholders. I am always available to listen to you and will always get back with you if I do not know the answers you are seeking.”

James is seeking her second term as the Post 2 representative to the school board.

She taught for 32 years in Georgia public schools before retiring in 2015. She also worked at North Georgia Technical College in the early childhood education department.

James is a native of Royston and was born at Ty Cobb Memorial Hospital to Edwina Ford and the late Dr. Billy Ford. She and husband Phillip have two children, daughter Lindy and son Phil. 

She grew up as the oldest of five children in Lavonia and attended Lavonia Elementary, Franklin County Junior High and Franklin County High School, where she graduated in 1978.

After high school, she attended the University of North Georgia, where she obtained a degree in early childhood education. 

James said that education has been her “life path.

“I believe God calls us to use our God-given gifts to serve others and this service fits that calling for me,” she said. “I have over 32 years of experience in public education, teaching and coaching. I also have experience at the technical college level, which gives me insight into the needs of our new career tech facility.”

In addition, James said her more than three years of experience working on the Franklin County Board of Education will help keep “a unified, stable board.”

That is important in order to “enhance Mr. [Superintendent Chris] Forrer’s ability to push our school system to the top.

“Franklin County is my birthplace and where I grew up so having roots here helps me to understand our community,” she said. “Working for students and supporting them so they get their education to be able to live their dreams is my passion.”

The work of the school board is a continuous process, James said.

“Since the new term starts in January 2021 while the new school year begins in August 2020, if reelected, I would already be working on the priorities for our students, staff and taxpayers, and I would continue this work,” she said. “My priorities, as your elected public servant, would be to continue to support the work of our superintendent, Mr. Chris Forrer, as we work together to push the Franklin County School System to the top and make the change to a Charter Operating System. The Charter Operating System will allow each school to have their own governing board, where their ideas will be listened to and honored by the Board of Education. Also, the board will be busy helping Mr. Forrer with the vision to implement our new Five-Year Strategic Plan, which stemmed from stakeholders’ input. It is all so exciting! I hope to continue to work for the county that has been so good to me.”

The switch to a charter system will be an “awesome change” that will get community members involved on boards at the schools, James said.

“I would like to see this be a starting point for our school board to begin regular connections with the local chambers and other county government entities so we can all work together to push our system to the top,” she said. 

James said the system also needs to improve its facilities for extracurricular activities.

“Mr. Forrer has been working on a plan to begin this process,” she said. “Junior ROTC and having an onsite Pre-K were two items that came out of the community meetings as priorities for our school system. These are two great programs that with implementation will impact many lives in a positive way but we will need good, safe facilities for these programs. Also, our students who are involved in athletics, the arts and/or agriculture all deserve the best we can give them and we need to work to do just that.”

Making Franklin County into a “premier school system” will bring many challenges, James said, from implementing the system’s Five-Year Strategic Plan, overseeing building projects to supporting needed initiatives.

“But first, we must always make sure our students are safe,” she said. “We will need to accomplish all of these things while keeping a balanced budget and meeting the needs of our diverse student population. I believe the most important way I can address these issues is to follow the lead of our superintendent and work with the board and other stakeholders as a team member in a transparent environment while attending meetings as well as professional learning.”