NAME AS IT APPEARS ON BALLOT: Eric Welch
OFFICE BEING SOUGHT AND DISTRICT: Williamson County School Board, 10th District
Have you previously run for or held a position in public office?
Yes. Incumbent for Board of Education
OCCUPATION: Director of Client Development for a Market Research Agency
EDUCATION: B.S. in Marketing from George Mason University
FAMILY: Andrea (wife), Drew (son - WCS graduate & University of TN student studying engineering), Jake (son - current WCS student)
COMMUNITY/CIVIC AFFILIATIONS: PTO Chair, Cougar Athletic Club Board, WCS Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center Board, TN School Board Assn, Board of Education Policy Committee, Teacher Leave Bank, fourth generation veteran U.S. Army (64th Armor Regiment) and National Guard (229th Combat Engineers), coached for Franklin Cowboys, Williamson County Soccer Assn, and Williamson County Wrestling Club, member of Grace Chapel Church. The Joseph School (Haiti), Josiah's House (Dominican Republic) and One Generation Away.
- TN State Representatives Charles Sargent and Sam Whitson, TN State Senator Jim Bryson (former)
- County Mayor Rogers Anderson
- D10 County Commissioners David Landrum, Robbie Beal, Travis Hawkins (former), and Matt Williams (former and incoming D9)
- Franklin Alderman Margaret Martin
- WCS Asst. Superintendent Dr. Donna Wright (former), WCS Asst. Principal Dr. Parker Altman (former)
- FSSD Board Members Tim Stillings, Dr. Alicia Barker, Allena Bell, Robert Blair, Robin Newman, and Kevin Townsel (endorsing as individuals and not board members)
- Williamson Business PAC
1.) Why did you decide to run for this office?
I was first encouraged to run in 2010 by parents who knew I'd been a longtime volunteer and parent-leader in both our WCS and FSSD school district. They believed my previous leadership roles in our schools would be an asset to the Board of Education. I'm running for re-election because I still have the desire to serve our schools and I've continued to receive the support of parents, school leaders, and other elected officials. I believe that being one of the more experienced voices on the board of education is beneficial to our team and our district.
2.) What do you believe are the top three issues that need to be addressed in Williamson County Schools? What solutions do you offer?
- Growth/Funding - Twenty years ago Williamson County Schools' enrollment was around 20,000 students. Today we're at over 40,000 and before long we'll be over 60,000. It's no secret that Williamson County has the very best schools in Tennessee and families both within and outside our state borders are clamoring to get in. While our success and high performance has helped keep the community prosperous and property values high, it also necessitates long-term strategic planning for the construction of new schools, renovation of existing facilities, and the hiring of teachers who deserve competitive pay. These are costly items. While funding authority resides with the County Commission and not the Board of Education, it is still imperative that we work together and that we communicate our needs and the benefits of keeping our schools strong to the community at large. We also need to work through our local legislative delegation to seek a more equitable state funding formula as Williamson County Schools currently receives only 60 cents on the dollar allocated to us.
- Curriculum - Our students deserve an education that helps them become creative thinkers, problem solvers, and provides the skills for college and career readiness. We need to continue to foster a safe learning environment where students and teachers feel empowered to ask questions, express opinions and challenge views. We need to provide support for students at every range of the learning spectrum, continue expanding both our career and technical education, STEM, and college prep courses and appropriately integrate technology in classrooms like online coursework and flipped learning. Tomorrow's workforce requirements will be different from today's and our students need to be prepared to compete and thrive in a global economy.
- Standardized Testing - Our ability to measure student knowledge by grade, course, and demographic and identify both success and shortcomings is a very good thing. It's an integral part of our continuous improvement process and some testing is both healthy and necessary for providing the data to make good decisions and efficiently allocate resources. Too much standardized testing and an over-emphasis on it for classroom-level evaluation is not healthy, it's not helpful and can be harmful to the learning process. It's no secret the state's TNReady exam process has been a disaster. It needs to be fixed immediately or discontinued until it is ready and an overall reduction in the amount of standardized testing and evaluations mandated by the state is also needed. These are changes that need to be made a higher level and to accomplish these reforms we'll have to partner with other districts across the state and work through our legislative delegation and department of education officials.
3.) Why are you the best candidate to serve on the Williamson County Board of Education?
I'm an experienced voice and leader on the board and care deeply about our schools. We've had some tumultuous years and turnover in 10 of the 12 board seats but are once again in a place where we function well as a team and our debates are collegial and healthy, and we are focused on the best interests of our students. I have a great deal of respect for the office and do not seek this position lightly. If re-elected, I will continue to give it the time and full-effort it deserves.