Due to the social distancing guidelines, we have converted our traditional AllOnGeorgia candidate video interviews into short questionnaires. Each candidate in the race was provided an identical questionnaire with the same deadline. (Questionnaires were emailed to the email address listed on the qualifying paperwork) Candidates were told their answers would be blank in the event that they did not respond. Answers were not edited in any way.
The Primary Election was moved to June 9th.
The last day to register to vote in the primary is May 11th.
Early voting begins May 18th.
To sign up to volunteer as a poll worker, click here.
Please provide a brief bio on yourself.
I am a professor of Epidemiology and Dean of the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University and I have lived in Bulloch County since 2000. I have worked with rural and underserved communities in Georgia for nearly 26 years. My research has mostly involved understanding the complexities of rural population health status, and I have serve on numerous rural health and advisory boards throughout the State of Georgia. I have had 2 children graduate from Statesboro High School and my youngest is currently a Freshman at the high school.
What type of experience and understanding of the education system do you believe is necessary to competently serve on the Board of Education?
In my opinion, there are 3 individual characteristics necessary to competently serve on the BOE. The first characteristics is the ability to listen. Listening to the ideas of others, employees or concerned community members alike, is critical to being an effective board member. Second, effective board members should always put the interests of the children of the district first. When voting on any issue, it is imperative the board member ask the question, “Does this action benefit the children of the district?” If the answer is anything other than “Yes”, the board member should probably vote “No”. Third, effective board membership is having the courage to express your opinion openly in a public venue. This can be particularly difficult if your ideas or comments run counter to the prevailing opinions of either other board members or members of the public. However, this type of courage is essential to serving the students and the community.
What are 3 strengths of which our district can be proud? why do you see these as strengths?
Particularly with respect to the current COVID-19 crisis and the unknown economic impact of this pandemic, the financial viability of the district is most definitely a strength. Because of the financial discipline exercised over many years, the district is in good shape to weather any economic fallout caused by this crisis. Another strength that I’m proud of it our commitment to prioritize school safety throughout the county. While we still have work to be done, the district has made significant progress in doing all possible to ensure the safety of our children, staff, and faculty. Lastly, a strength of our district is our people. The faculty and staff of this district are phenomenal and I feel truly honored to be associated with them. They are talented, dedicated, and committed individuals who are working tirelessly to educate the children of Bulloch County.
What are 3 needs that must be priorities for our district to address?
School safety is a continuing issue that needs to be a priority in our district. I think we have done a great job launching school safety initiatives in Bulloch County but more can be done. In the modern era, we have to be ever vigilant to ensure our schools are as safe as possible. Another priority in the district is the need for mental health counseling. Issue associated with mental health are not unique to Bulloch County. However, I feel strongly we work to position the county to better serve the mental health needs of our students. In the past year, the BOE has had very robust conversations about how to accomplish this in a substantive way by investing in personnel resources. My hope is the economic conditions following the COVID-19 crisis will not hamper our tentative plans to improve resources and services for children of Bulloch County.
An individual school board member has no authority; only the board as a whole can make decisions for the district. What skills or traits will allow you to contribute to effective operations of the board as a whole and how do you overcome disagreement?
My response to this is directly related to the responses I gave for Question 2. I am an effective and respectful listener to opinions that differ from my own. This has served me well during my time on the board. In fact, this is how I am able to learn and, in many ways, inform my own opinion for the good of the district. Along these lines, effective board members should be willing to express personal opinions so all members have the benefit of more, rather than less, information and perspectives. In addition to listening and expressing opinions, an effective board member should be sensitive to the impact board decisions have on the welfare of children, and we should consistently strive to make decisions that benefit all children in the district.
If elected/re-elected, what would you hope would be key accomplishments of the board during your years of service?
I would like to continue advocating for more comprehensive access to mental health services for all children in the district. This isn’t a problem unique to Bulloch County. As someone in the health profession, I realize the profound impact mental health has on the welfare of children and their ability to maximize their future potential.
Bulloch County is very diverse and continues to become more diverse every year – economically, racially, culturally, and in other ways. Is the Board of Education and the school system generally doing enough to adequately represent the needs of the various demographics across Bulloch County?
In my opinion, the district has been proactive in our efforts to enhance diversity in the school system, but we still have work to do. Living in a rural area of the state presents unique challenges to enhancing diversity in our school system because we cannot easily compete with salary or access to cultural amenities offered in urban centers. However, we can take the initiative to continually work to foster a sense of belong and empowerment among all district personnel. I think we should continue to remind ourselves of the importance of promoting diversity in our district, and we should continue to seek creative solutions to achieve the desired result we are seeking.
What should our school district be doing to ensure the safety of students and staff?
The district has made great strides in improving the safety of students and staff over the last couple of years. Specific efforts include our relationship with the county to provide School Resource Officers at each school in the district. In addition, we have hired a director of school safety and invested considerable resources into upgrading security measures including cameras, security badges for personnel, and intercom systems. The safety of our faculty, staff, and students cannot be taken for granted.
How can the Bulloch County Board of Education be more transparent about activities and finances?
I feel as though the Bulloch County Board of Education has had a history of transparency with respect to activities and finances. However, it is always a good idea to remind ourselves to continue this level of transparency and to continue exhibiting good stewardship of taxpayer resources.
Will any other employment or business venture in which you are vested present a conflict of interest for you as a Bulloch County BOE member? Please explain your answer.
a) In the event of an unforeseen conflict of interest arising in your official duties, how would you handle such a conflict to ensure maintenance of public trust?
I have no employment or business ventures, nor do I intend to have any, that present a conflict of interest to my service as a Bulloch County BOE member.
Is there anything else you’d like the public to know about you?
I’m honored to have served BOE – District 3 for the past few years. The Bulloch County School system has been good to me and my family over the years, and I hope to be able to continue doing my part to make the schools in this district the best in the State of Georgia.Bulloch BOE District 3 Map