Republican incumbent for Williamson County School Board, District 10
Age and occupation: 50, account director for a consumer market research firm
Education: Bachelor’s degree in marketing, George Mason University
Family: Wife, Andrea, and sons and WCS graduates Drew and Jake
Community/civic affiliations (church, nonprofits, etc.): Member at Journey Church; WCS Board of Education; Tennessee School Board Association; WCS Policy Committee; Teacher Leave Bank; WCS Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center Board; University of Georgia MMR Corporate Advisory Board; fourth-generation veteran (U.S. Army and National Guard); coached for Williamson County Soccer Association, Franklin Cowboys and Williamson County Wrestling Club; Centennial PTO and Cougar Athletic Club boards; donor and volunteer for One Generation Away, The Joseph School (Haiti) and Josiah’s House (Dominican Republic)
Have you ever held public office? I was first elected to the Williamson County Schools Board of Education in 2010.
Why did you decide to run for this office?
I was first encouraged to run by parents who knew me as a longtime volunteer in both our WCS and FSSD school districts and believed my parent-leadership roles in our schools would be an asset to the board of education. I’m running for reelection because I still have the desire to serve our schools, and I’ve continued to receive the support and encouragement 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.
What do you believe are the top three issues that need to be addressed in WCS?
1. Funding of WCS — Tennessee ranks 46th nationally in what it invests per pupil and 50th in the percentage of its budget spent on education, and Williamson County Schools is in the bottom half of the state in its share of funding. We are one of just two systems in Tennessee that funds a majority of budget through local taxes. Whichever budgeting system the state chooses to use, whether that’s the current BEP system or the governor’s proposed TISA, the legislature needs to finally commit to fully funding that system, make an investment in our children and quit shifting the burden of funding our schools to PTOs and parents.
2. Teacher retention and hiring — Tennessee is a net importer of educators, as our in-state universities and colleges do not produce sufficient numbers of teachers to fill the needs of our school systems. Nationally, the number of students entering education majors has dropped by 30%, and our own applications are down 50% from just five years ago. We are in staffing crisis right now, especially for positions like SPED and STEM. Improved funding, as mentioned above, is a huge part of that, as we struggle to pay competitive wages compared to surrounding states and districts. We must also look at creative ways to streamline the process for highly qualified educators to be placed into the classroom and the benefits we can offer our staff who live both within and outside the county.
3. Academic freedom — WCS has a long history of classroom transparency and partnering with our parents. Our curriculum materials are jointly selected by classroom teachers and parent representatives from every WCS school, and we allow any parent to opt their own child out of any text for any reason at all. Parental rights to restrict access of material to their own children must continue to be respected, protected and kept in place. We must also recognize that no individual or non-school group has the right to determine the instructional materials for all other students, and age-appropriate materials of sound factual authority should not be removed from library shelves or classrooms because of partisan or doctrinal approval/disapproval.
Why are you the best candidate to serve on the school board?
Our local school systems are the foundation of our local community. Not only do they provide a path to a brighter future for our children, but they’re the foundation of community and local economy. Our state-leading school systems have a positive impact on everything, from our high employment numbers to our property values. Since I’ve served on the board of education, our graduation numbers are up, ACT scores have improved, offered scholarships have increased and our academic reputation both statewide and nationally is stronger than ever. We are at a crossroads for the future of public education, and experienced leadership is crucial to continue that success.