Marietta Board of Education member Stuart Fleming is the only one of the seven-member board not to seek re-election this fall. Instead, Fleming said he intends to challenge Councilwoman Annette Lewis for a seat on the Marietta City Council.
“I see an opportunity to make the city better and have been privileged to do it on the city school board and think I can continue to offer good, viable solutions to make Marietta an even better city,” said Fleming.
The nonpartisan board is set to approve qualifying dates and fees for the Nov. 5 election this month. Qualifying dates for this year’s election are Aug. 26 to 28 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and fees for each board member are $207.36.
If he had chosen to run again, Fleming would be going up against fellow board member Brett Bittner, who on Monday had not heard of Fleming’s decision to run for a seat on the Council. “I anticipated my opposition being Stuart,” Bittner said. “I wish him the best with the City Council, though.”
Fleming’s home was drawn out of the Ward 5 board post map and into Ward 1 earlier this year after the City Council approved its new redistricting map.
Bittner joined the board last July after Logan Weber resigned and moved out of state. He said he decided to run again because he believes there is more work to be done.
“I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what happened in education policy, but this first year has taught me a lot,” he said. “Also, as the fiscal hawk that I am, I think student achievement can be accomplished at a low cost to taxpayers.”
Redistricting will open up a seat for Ward 5, and longtime Marietta resident and local dentist Dr. Paul Gilreath has decided to run for the spot. “I understand the importance of education to our young people, and I want to do anything I can to help the school system thrive and help it be a great environment for our kids’ education while at the same time being a good steward of our tax dollars,” he said.
The father of two — his rising sixth-grade son, Quint, and fourth-grade daughter, Birdie — Gilreath is a Cobb native who graduated from Marietta High School in 1979.
A little opposition
School Board member Tony Fasola is the only incumbent with opposition to date. Fasola, who will be seeking his third term, will face Marietta Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jason Waters.
“I thought long and hard about this, and I think this current board and these last two boards have just done a very good job,” Fasola said. “I want to continue the great work as a group and a body. There are still things yet to be accomplished to make this a better system, and to meet those student achievement goals.”
Fasola said this would be his last term serving on the board if he wins in November because he’d like to finish up things that he’s had an opportunity to start.
Waters, 37, is the former chair of the Marietta chapter of the Cobb Chamber and past president of the Leadership Cobb Alumni Association.
Waters previously said his priorities in running for the board are to support community schools, the city’s school choice program and dealing with the impact of the city’s redevelopment initiatives.
“That is, how can we support it and how can we actively manage it when it potentially will cause changes in the city’s tax base and in the number of children in the system,” he said.
Longtime board members seeking re-election
The longest serving incumbent, Irene Berens, will seek a fourth term.
“We’ve made tremendous progress and the perception has improved dramatically, as has our school system, but we still have a long way to go, and I truly love our school system,” Berens said. “It gave my children a great start in life, and I want to be able to give others that same opportunity.”
Board Chairman Randy Weiner and board member Jill Mutimer were elected to the board at the same time in 2005. Both will seek a third term.
Mutimer said she decided to run again because she feels the superintendent and board have momentum as well as a vision for the district’s future. She said she thinks they have a track record of achievement she’d like to continue.
“My commitment to the school system, its continued improvement, and this city has never been stronger,” she said.
Weiner said he has the time, knowledge and energy to continue representing Ward 3.
“I’m still incredibly energized by our school district and continue to update my constituents with the latest school news and performance data,” he said. “We’ve come so far since 2005 but we still have more ahead of us.”
Weiner’s vice chair on the board, Tom Cheater in Ward 6, will be seeking his second term.
Cheater said he’s been pleased with the board’s accomplishments over the last three and a half years, especially given the economic challenges and education reform programs.
“There is more I’d like to contribute in my next term to help accelerate the successful trajectory Marietta City Schools is presently on, and I look forward to that opportunity,” he said.
Contracts up for approval
In other business, the board will also consider approving the following contracts:
- A $208,341.70 contract with DELL to purchase 220 laptops and 50 docking states for Marietta High School. The cost will be funded by SPLOST III.
- A $22,982 contract with Radio One Inc. of Norcross for a Bi-Directional Amplifier at Marietta High School. This should help improve communications reception in certain areas of the school. The City of Marietta will be paying the fee using technology funds.
- A $30,000 contract to hire an art teacher for the Marietta Center for Advanced Academics. The teacher would work between July 31 and May 28, 2014.
- A $28,700 contract with Sole Source of Caldwell, Idaho, to purchase 168 Imagine Learning student licenses for next school year for Burruss, Dunleith, Lockheed, Sawyer Road and West Side elementary schools. The language and literacy program is designed to improve English language skills for English Language Learner students, struggling readers and students with disabilities. The licenses will be funded with Title III money.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. and will be at the Central Office, 250 Howard St., Marietta.