By Tom Scott Lee County School Board Member
In this current campaign season, I've been asked many times for my opinion on the upcoming school board election and my response is always the same: As mine is a non-partisan office, and I'm a sitting member of the board, I feel it's inappropriate to endorse a particular candidate.
I said when I ran for office in 2010 that I was not part of a bloc and that remains the case today.
Any inference or statement by a candidate that I support them and will surely agree to their pet projects in the future is completely untrue. Putting forward such assertions is a tired, ham-handed campaign trick used to gain votes by some imagined affiliation. I find this ploy manipulative and disrespectful. No one else speaks for me and it's arrogant for a candidate to imply otherwise.
What I will say is this: One of the key things to consider when selecting any board candidate or public official is their ability to work collaboratively and productively. For the school district, I look forward to working with those who plan to accomplish something that benefits students and, by extension, our county as a whole.
This is because each school board member is part of a legislative body charged with working together in order to move things forward.
This does not mean a board needs to be unanimous in everything; in fact, constructive disagreement can lead to better solutions and better results. Honest debate is a cornerstone of good governance.
Voters need to be wary of a candidate who tells them that all their ideas will be implemented upon election; no one board member has that kind of power. Any board member's "power" emanates from their ability to clearly articulate a position, rally others to support it and follow through to make sure the Superintendent and his staff implement it.
Furthermore, those who dwell in minutiae and seize every opportunity to get their name and face in the media do a disservice to students and the community. This is not productive, nor can it be rationalized by using the term "transparency" to justify selfish actions.
In summation, I encourage voters to examine candidates who care about children and put students first while being realistic about what can and should be approved. The current superintendent and sitting board have been sincere in asking for and creating ways to provide taxpayer input. From this inclusive approach, positive changes have happened and more are on the way.
Collaboration at all levels is vital to our community's public education system.