Cato, Mayfield contend for Post 5 BOE seat
Editor’s note: The Franklin County Citizen Leader sent five questions to candidates for two school board races. Their responses were then written as the stories below. The questions were 1. What qualities and/or qualifications do you feel you will bring to the position? 2. What are the biggest challenges currently facing the school system and how would you address them? 3. What are your plans if you are elected to the position? 4. What improvements or changes would you like to see take place in the school system in the future? 5. What is the proper role of extracurricular activities (sports, theatre, FFA, etc.) in the local educational system and how should they be funded?
Mayfield: ‘Hear, support and create a positive environment for schools’
There are many challenges facing the Franklin County School System.
Post 5 candidate Davie “David” Mayfield Sr. has a plan to meet them.
“We must hear, support and create a positive environment for our entire school system,” he said.
A graduate of Franklin County High School, Mayfield has worked in law enforcement for 10 years, the last five as a classification officer.
“My responsibilities include, but are not limited to, handling all jail liabilities, rules infractions, mediations between deputies and inmates, as well as handling disciplinary infractions,” he said.
That experience in law enforcement helps him understand making critical decisions that best fit the entire community, he said.
Mayfield has a bachelor’s degree in communication and a degree in theology. He is currently working on a master’s degree in divinity.
Mayfield identified one challenge facing the school system as declining state academic rankings.
The Franklin County system has dropped from 60th in the state to 88th in three years, Mayfield said.
Another challenge is teacher supplements
“In my opinion, supplements should be distributed more favorable towards our faculty and less towards our administrators,” he said.
The system also needs more teachers, Mayfield said.
“Another of our many challenges that we face is the lack of certified personnel that the state allows and what we actually operate with,” he said. “The state allows 259 certified and we operate with 248. That means we are understaffed, underpaid, and over-utilized. This creates a negative environment, high turnover and low morale.”
If elected, Mayfield said he first wants to hear the concerns of the taxpayers “so that we can start to rebuild the community that fully supports us and that is so vital for our children’s success.“
Additionally, Mayfield said the school board needs to develop policies for evaluating administrator travel, cell phones, credit card usage, hiring processes, absenteeism and the necessity for 31 cell phones.
Safety and participation are two of the things on Mayfield’s list of improvements he would like to see
“I would like to see school security improve in and outside of the facility,” Mayfield said. “We have taken the most economic avenue to ensure the safety for everyone associated with our school system. I would like to see more participation with school activities from our students. The more that they are involved the exposure they have and they more creative they become.”
Extracurricular activities benefit students, he said.
“Extracurricular activities allow students to be participatory with events to their liking,” he said. “These events allow them develop team mindsets, experience a competitive atmosphere, develop life skills and establish lifelong dreams and goals.“
Funding for the activities takes the community as a whole, Mayfield said.
“Funding will take us as a community to volunteer transportation, financial support, as well as supporting one another in cross activitie,” he said. “Every program that we have must unite and physically go out and cheer our programs on. We, as a county, are too small, too spread out and too divided to not support one another.”
Mayfield commits to do his part.
“If elected, I will give my entire board salary to support Franklin County activities/programs,” he said. “I challenge everyone who’s a part of our afterschool activities to volunteer their services and allow funds to be reinvested into opportunities for our children. If we can come together as a county, we can utilize all that we have to support what’s important, our faculty, staff and students.”
Cato: ‘An advocate for students, teachers, staff’
Robin Cato has found her work on the Franklin County Board of Education “exhausting and unending work, yet rewarding.”
Cato, the current chairman of the school board, is seeking a third term as the Post 5 representative on the board.
Cato grew up in Franklin County and attended Royston Elementary and Franklin County Junior High.
She graduated from Franklin County High School, Emmanuel College and Stetson University.
She attended law school at Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson, Miss.
Cato is a former teacher and currently works as an attorney in Franklin County. She lives in Franklin Springs near her parents, who she helps care for.
“As a former high school English teacher, I understand the importance of maintaining positive interaction with students and their families, in addition to all the demands that teaching brings such as meeting state testing requirements, dealing with behavioral issues, and maintaining mandatory paperwork,” Cato said. “My skill set as an attorney contributes to my ability to make the best decisions we as a board can make for our school system. I want to be an advocate for students, teachers and staff in every way I can.”
The biggest challenges facing the system are state requirements and unfunded mandates.
“One of the biggest challenges currently facing the school system is complying with the issues of the many regulations and state requirements without compromising our academic integrity,” she said. “For example, the strict testing schedule and state required regimen often takes away valuable classroom time. This is yet another obstacle our dedicated teachers must overcome. As a member of the board, I am committed to ensuring our teachers have the resources they need academically to continue their focus on the student’s progress.”
Unfunded state mandates are also a challenge.
“I work with the board members to plan in advance during the budget process to ensure we have adequate funding for state mandated programs,” Cato said.
If re-elected, Cato said she wants to continue “the many exciting things going on” in the school system right now.
“For the board, currently, the most pressing project is the College and Career Academy for which we will break ground this month,” she said. “The Academy offers opportunity to our students to train and work in technology and manufacturing jobs. They can graduate high school trained, certified and ready to work.“
Safety is also a priority, Cato said.
“Additionally, it is important to me to continue our working relationship with local law enforcement, the resource officers stationed on each campus, and our dedicated administrators, to strengthen and secure all of our campuses, making them as safe as possible for our students,” she said.
The current school board puts a priority on academics, Cato said.
“Our board continues our vision of rigorous academics,” she said. “I fully support the teachers as they focus on the students’ academic progress. This is a common theme through all our work and it is exciting to see how our teachers are able to help each student move forward.”
Even more emphasis on preparing students for their futures after high school will be the biggest changes Cato wants to see in the coming years.
“The College and Career Academy will be a change I am very excited to see in our system,” she said. “As a board member, I want to see that each student has the opportunity to have access to these additional resources. Our collaboration with Emmanuel College and North Georgia Tech will take us to the next level. Each of these systems of higher learning are increasing their participation in our system programs. We have been building these partnerships for a number of years and are now seeing our efforts position our students to have maximum opportunity for success.”
Cato said that extracurricular activities play an essential role in “completing the lives of our students.
“For many, these activities highlight their talents and gives them even more opportunities for success,” she said. “Studies have shown that participation in these extracurricular activities lead to a conducive learning environment, increased self-esteem and mental alertness. These activities can motivate students to earn better grades and teach them life skills such as teamwork and leadership.”
Funding for extracurricular activities must come from a combination of sources, she said.
“Funding must be a shared effort which includes school participation, community fundraising, business donations, corporate sponsorships, grants and some fundraising by the students,” Cato said. “Funding from multiple sources is necessary to fully support extracurricular activities.”