Jane Owens sets goals in GOP runoff for BoE Post 4

Post 4 BoE candidate Jane Owens. Photo/Ben Nelms.

Voters in the July 22 runoff for the District 4 Fayette County Board of Education seat will choose between Diane Basham and Jane Owens. The Citizen asked the two candidates to provide their thoughts on the issues they believe are pertinent in the July runoff election and how they would run their campaign. Basham’s comments were provided last week. This week it is Owens who was given the opportunity to have her say.

Owens, who came in third in the primary, entered the runoff race after second place vote-getter John Kimbell withdrew last week due to what he called a “job-related matter.”

Owens in her response cited six goals she holds important if elected to the District 4 seat.

One of those goals calls for protecting local control on decision-making and the pending decision by many school systems to move to a charter system.

“Protect local control of educational decision-making by carefully reviewing and evaluating all current state legislation especially as it pertains to the establishment, monitoring, funding mechanisms and structuring of charter schools and the role of and accountability to parents and taxpayers in the charter system. We must also attempt to stay away from funding that requires us to implement programs or curriculum that are not aligned with local values and goals,” said Owens.

A second goal dealt with the ongoing review of Georgia standards while keeping abreast of the standards used in other states.

“Prioritize excellence of learning by ongoing monitoring of standards, curriculum and testing assessments to verify that we are progressing towards the goal of being ‘best in nation’ in student achievement,” Owens said. “We must carefully review Common Core standards and the new assessment tool that will soon be replacing the CRCT (Criterion-Referenced Competency Test). Parents should be informed regarding these programs by accurate, current and readily available information. We must also look at what is happening in other states regarding Common Core and testing, especially New York State which has currently put Common Core testing on hold. Texas’ educational system should be researched to determine why they opted out of Common Core standards.”

A third goal pertains to fiscal responsibility and the academic and personnel areas affected by budget considerations.

“Preserve Fayette County’s legacy of quality education through fiscal discipline and sound budget decision-making marked by a deliberative, thoughtful and well-researched caution. As monies come available, we need to reinstate the 5th grade band and orchestra programs. If we delay instrumental music study until 6th grade, there is an inevitable decline in the quality of instrumental music programs through middle and high school,” Owens said. “Study of the arts in the educational process has been shown to correlate to increased academic performance. Also, in the financial area, a complete review of current personnel contracts needs to be conducted to make sure benefits and salary packages are commensurate with job expectations, performance, training, skills and experience.”

The fourth goal is one that would have the school system employ high-quality teachers and administrators who are evaluated effectively and fairly.

“Pursue and retain top-quality teachers and administrators by providing competitive compensation. We must ensure that teachers have freedom and flexibility in the classroom, are not burdened with excessive and unnecessary paperwork and are evaluated effectively and fairly by a system that is agreed on by teachers, parents, students and administrators,” said Owens.

Owens’ fifth goal includes providing numerous learning opportunities to the student population.

“Provide innovative opportunities for learning and career training by collaboration with post-secondary institutions and local businesses,” Owens said. “These opportunities might include apprenticeships, internships, expanded vocational-technical course offerings and expansion of current creative structuring of high school classes through dual enrollment.”

The sixth goal centers on full communication with students, parents, the school system and the business community on a variety of issues.

“Promote parent, teacher, administrator and student cooperation, connection and communication through open forums, round table discussions and online tools for presentation of information, ideas and suggestions. Parents should be informed of current issues, especially relating to the learning process, by providing online links and hard-copy information. Parents should also be kept informed regarding current legislation and how it impacts the learning process,” said Owens. “We should also encourage any efforts to bring businesses and affordable housing for young families to Fayette County to increase our tax base, which is dwindling due to the aging population.”

Addressing the topic on how she would run her campaign, Owens said, “In this campaign, I am presenting myself as the citizens’ choice for a fresh, new perspective from a parent’s point of view. I know that it is very important that public servants be available to the people they serve, so if elected, it will be my goal to be answer questions and discuss concerns in a timely and thorough manner.”