That has finally begun to change in the last several years, a welcome trend that has come to full flower during 2013 (under Chairman Randy Scamihorn) and thus far in 2014 (under Chairwoman Kathleen Angelucci) due to the arrival of a reform-minded board majority (Angelucci, Scamihorn and members Brad Wheeler and Tim Stultz). They believe in adhering to the admonition in the state Constitution that all school systems are to be “under the management and control” of the local board of education.
Angelucci has chosen to step down off the board at the end of this year and will be succeeded by fellow reformer David Chastain. Stultz’s terms ends this year as well. Fortunately, he is seeking a second four-year term.
Post 2’s Stultz faces a challenge in the July 22 Republican Primary runoff from career educator and administrator Susan Thayer. And whoever wins that contest will be challenged in the fall by Democrat Kenya Pierre.
Thayer was the leading vote-getter in the May 22 primary, with 1,876 ballots, or 45 percent. Stultz garnered 1,403 votes, or 34 percent. Third candidate Jeff Abel got 878 votes, or 21 percent.
Post 2 represents primarily Campbell and Osborne high schools and the schools that feed into them.
Georgia Tech graduate Stultz, an engineer by profession, is an unabashed conservative who has fought to steer the system away from the excesses of Common Core.
Thayer spent the bulk of her 36-year education career in the Cobb school system, where she served as principal of Pebblebrook High School and then executive director of high schools for the county. Now retired, she works part time for former Cobb Superintendent James Wilson’s firm, Education Planners.
Thayer’s strong suit is her experience and first-hand knowledge of the Cobb system, and there’s no question she would be a dependable advocate on the system’s behalf if elected.
However, she seemed unaware until it was brought to her attention by the MDJ her husband Ed’s job as supervisor of the Lassiter High School Concert Hall might be considered a violation of the state’s recently (2010) enacted anti-nepotism policy. That policy states local school board members cannot have an immediate family member serving as a “principal, assistant principal or system administrative staff” in the district they serve.
And Thayer had signed an affidavit on March 5 that reads, “I have read and understand the code of ethics and the conflict of interest provisions applicable to members of local boards of education and agree to abide by them.”
It’s unclear if the policy applies as yet, since she is just a candidate and not a board member.
At any rate, it’s a distraction that clouds Thayer’s candidacy.
Regardless of how it plays out, the fact remains Stultz has already proven his strengths and abilities as a board member. He was a strong supporter of hiring Chris Ragsdale as interim superintendent over the strong objections from those on the board who complained that he comes from the operations side rather than the classroom.
And Stultz promises to keep pushing for conservative approaches on both fiscal management and other measures, and is a strong supporter of charter schools as well. At this point, the board’s future direction would seem to be riding on the outcome of the Post 2 runoff and election. Will it continue down the path toward a stronger board with more accountability demanded not just of board members but of the superintendent and others in the system as well? Or does it revert back to the era in which the superintendent ran the show and the board jumped through his hoops?
A vote for Stultz is an important step to assure the board keeps going in the right direction.