With James Stone, chairman of the Jones County school board, stepping down after three decades in office, three candidates are vying for the chairmanship as Republicans in next month’s primary.
Ginger Bailey, a recently retired elementary school teacher, is running against electrical designer Ken Hamilton and poultry-production manager Wally Hunter. The winner moves on to meet Democrat Josh Lurie in November.
Bailey is emphasizing her two-and-a half decades of teaching experience. She began attending Jones County Board of Education meetings about 18 months ago and said “there is a big gap between what the board understands and what’s actually going on in the classroom.”
Bailey, 59, said she has firsthand insight into “how the children of our county are being taught.”
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“If you haven’t walked the walk, you can’t talk the talk. If you don’t have the experience of being in that classroom, working with those kids, working with administrators, creating ways for children to learn, you can put all the programs you want to out there, but nothing’s gonna work until your teachers and your local boards sit down and work out a plan that’s workable for them,” Bailey said.
“It’s not just a business you’re running,” she added. “You’re dealing with children and their futures.”
For the two other Republican candidates, both of whom have school-aged children, they are campaigning as concerned parents and able administrators.
Hamilton cited concerns over teacher furlough days as one of the reasons he chose to run.
“We want to make sure that we keep that quality of learning and teaching in the school system,” said Hamilton, 50. “If we keep furloughing the teachers they are going to start leaving.”
Hamilton, who has two children in elementary school, said his family moved to Jones County because of the school system.
“It’s a great school system,” he said.
Hunter, whose three children attend school in the system, said he entered the race because of school budget issues that he says will arise in the coming years.
“I am a businessperson, a manager of assets, of budgets, of teams of people,” said Hunter, 41, adding that he figures “to be able to administer and manage and motivate people.”
Hunter said he decided to run, in part, after he challenged members of his Sunday School class to get involved in the community.
“I want to get in and help make decisions, to help lead, guide and inspire people to do a good job, and I want to rely on the experts within the system,” he said. “I have no agenda other than children’s education. ... I want our money spent properly and wisely.”
To contact writer Joe Kovac Jr., call 744-4397.