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Last month, The View 38002 contacted the 12 candidates running in the municipal or school board elections in Arlington. In each race, each candidate was sent the same questions and instructions.

Three of the candidates are unopposed: Cheryl Pardue in Alderman Position 2, Scott Benjamin in School Board Position 1, and Dale Viox in School Board Position 5.

Participating candidates were given a 400-word limit for their responses. The responses printed here are unedited, except for formatting that does not change the content or intent of the answer.

The responses are grouped alphabetically by position, as that is the way that they will appear on the ballot.

In Arlington, voters will choose from candidates for Board of Aldermen positions 1, 2, and 3. Only the top vote-getter in each position will be elected to a four-year term.

At The View 38002, we believe that educating the public on the election and candidates helps individuals make informed decisions. While there certainly are many issues that are not touched upon in these questions, we encourage our readers to contact the candidates for more information on their platforms and campaigns.

Position 1

Scott Benjamin
Teaching Pastor – theRefuge Church
FB.me/ScottBenjaminACSSchoolBoard

Why are you running for office?

I have been involved in the Arlington school system for a number of years, both as part of SCS and now with ACS, as a father of four children who attend and as a volunteer in many capacities. When a board position came open, I recognized it as the time in my life and in the life of our school system to get more involved. I love the direction of our system and hope to continue the good work set in place by the previous board.

Describe your education history and qualifications to be a school board member.

I have a B.S. in Marketing from Mississippi State University. Alter 20 years working in the private sector, I now serve as Teaching Pastor at the Refuge Church. A school board needs a diverse group of people serving the needs and planning the direction of our schools. Our family’s 12 years with four children in the system (and at least 6 more years in the system) have given us a unique and comprehensive view into a wide range of school curriculum, activities, and teaching styles. As a pastor in a local church and an active volunteer in our community, I intentionally interact with Arlington folks on a regular basis. This gives me numerous opportunities to hear from and listen to people about the things they like, dislike, celebrate and have concerns about in our town and in our schools.

How many school board meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the last 5 years.

I began attending school board meetings in the fall of 2016. I am unsure of the exact number – but probably 6-7 meetings. I did not attend the June meeting because my son was playing baseball in a tournament in Orange Beach. I’m pretty sure I have voted in every election that I was eligible to vote in over the past 5 years. Voting is a privilege. We need more people casting their votes in every election.

Where do you see Arlington in five years in terms of programs offered, existing inter-local agreements, and qualities that will differentiate Arlington from other municipal districts? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the 5 year end state you describe?

The workforce that our children and young adults are entering is a challenging landscape that they must be prepared to navigate. But not every child will need the same, standard education because of their goals, their skills, and their desires for their own future. I love the fact that we are beginning to offer a technical path for many of our students that choose not to attend college, but instead plan to go directly into the workforce. Partnerships wh local industries, manufacturing plants and the service industry is crucial for our preparing graduates for the jobs that they offer and with the skills necessary to thrive.

 

Position 3

Hugh Lamar
College Professor/ College Administrator
Contact info: Resume may be viewed at Town of Arlington.org —Alderman 2

Why are you running for office?

I have been a public servant in Arlington for the past 17 years and I have had extensive experience in the educational field.

Describe your education history and qualifications to be a school board member.

I have had years of classroom teaching and administrative experience. Also, I am a strong advocate of public education.

How many school board meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the last 5 years.

I have attended three meetings in the past year. I have voted in every election in the past five years. However, Board meetings, agendas and minutes are posted on the ACS website and I follow these closely.

Where do you see Arlington in five years in terms of programs offered, existing inter-local agreements, and qualities that will differentiate Arlington from other municipal districts? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the 5 year end state you describe?

Arlington Community Schools will continue to be aggressive in the technology area such as having ipads for most students. The curriculum will continue to be updated to reflect jobs in the fast changing world. The current interlocal agreement is with Lakeland School System and pertains to ACS educating their students in grades 9-12. Other interlocal agreements pertain to Payroll Accounting and strategic planning.  In five years, the status of interlocal agreements is unknown. ACS is unique in that it has increased vocational courses, special offerings in music and arts, as well as opportunities to expand other special courses. To achieve the goals it will require sufficient funds to support these goals.  The goals must also have the support of the citizens of Arlington and the Arlington School Board.  Finally, and most important, the faculty and staff of ACS must be on board to support these goals.

 

Position 3

Jill Yelland
Property Manager / Former Genetics Counselor at UT Medical Group
https://www.facebook.com/votejillyelland

Why are you running for office?

I am a huge fan of public education and believe that schools are the backbone of any community. With my two children both attending ACS schools, I am fully vested in the quality of the public education that they and their peers are receiving. I am also keenly aware of the importance of having a parental voice on the school board and am committed to being a voice for all ACS parents. I am excited about what the future holds for our schools and the educational opportunities for our children and I hope to be a part of the move forward.

Describe your education history and qualifications to be a school board member.

I graduated from the Jefferson County International Baccalaureate School in Birmingham in 1992.  I earned a B.S. in Biological Science and Humanities at the University of Alabama and a M.S. in Medical Genetics from the University of Cincinnati. I worked as a genetics counselor at LeBonheur and later for UT Medical Group before putting my career on hold to raise my kids. I have been very involved in my kids’ schools as room mom as well as volunteering in the classroom and libraries.

How many school board meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the last 5 years.

I have attended most of the school board meetings. If I am in town on the 4th Tuesday of the month, I always plan to go.

Where do you see Arlington in five years in terms of programs offered, existing inter-local agreements, and qualities that will differentiate Arlington from other municipal districts? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the 5 year end state you describe?

ACS has introduced some wonderful programs in its first three years, such as the STEM classes, the 1:1 iPad initiative, and the Scholars Program. Over the next five years, I would like to see improved access to biology and chemistry labs and more support for art & music programs at all of our schools. I also would like to explore the possibility of adding the International Baccalaureate program at AHS. Beyond academics, I am interested in school lunches that are locally sourced to improve both taste and nutrition and believe strongly that our younger kids need more than 15 minutes of recess time during the school day. I also believe that communication from school administration to parents has room for improvement. I am also a strong proponent of adopting a healthy start time at AHS. Chronic sleep deprivation is a real issue among American teenagers. Not only have major medical and health organizations issued policy statements encouraging schools to adopt healthy start times, but the National PTA at their annual conference this past June overwhelmingly passed a resolution to advocate for healthy start times as well.

Position 5

Dale Viox
Pediatric Anesthetist, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
Re-elect Dale Viox on Facebook

 

Why are you running for office?

I have a passion for the school board and the last three and a half years have been amazing.  I believe that my participation in the creation of this school district is one of the most fulfilling things I have ever accomplished in my life.  I just could not imagine stopping now.  I enjoy every aspect of being a school board member and am honored to continue my service.

Describe your education history and qualifications to be a school board member.

I am a pediatric anesthetist at St. Jude.  I am currently enrolled in a doctoral program, which will culminate with my doctorate this December.  As far as my qualifications, I would say that I have had an extremely successful tenure as the Chairman of the Board of Education.  Prior to being considered a district, I was involved in leading the decision-making process and writing policy as the inaugural Chairman.  It has been a little over three years and I believe that what we have accomplished is amazing.  I can assure the stakeholders that we have only begun to move this district forward.  There is so much more on the horizon.

How many school board meetings have you attended in the past year? Have you voted in every election in the last 5 years.

I have not missed a single meeting.  I was discharged from the hospital and attended a meeting a few hours later.  I literally planned surgery around our meeting schedule.  I have absolutely voted in every election for the last five years.

Where do you see Arlington in five years in terms of programs offered, existing inter-local agreements, and qualities that will differentiate Arlington from other municipal districts? What specific steps are you going to take to achieve the 5 year end state you describe?

STEM, technology, rigorous academic standards, and a focus on career ready skills for those not able or willing to attend a traditional four-year university will set us apart.  I am proud to have participated in the revitalization of skilled trades and a focus on students that want to learn a trade.  We had 36 million in scholarships last year so the academic standards are already in place.  Our ACT scores have risen every year since we have existed, I expect those trends to continue. Our commitment to S.T.E.M, trades, and technology will propel our students into college or a career, which will ensure success, regardless of their chosen path.  I would very much like to explore an ROTC program, including interest and requirements.  The inter local with Lakeland is for high school attendance, and has population parameters set as a safeguard to overcrowding.  Until the population parameters are met, this should exist without incident.  As far as others, we will have to see how far shared services dissolve, however, I am in favor of continuing those as long as possible.

 

 

BHS_Wildcat Games_GroupBy Lily Donaldson, Special to THE VIEW 38002; Photos courtesy of Cathy Roberts

When Bolton junior Gavin Bishop learned that Bolton High School special education students could not participate in a local Special Olympics event, Bishop took to social media. “Something needs to be done about this situation,” Bishop posted.

Bishop knew how important the field day was for the students in the Special Needs classroom where he had been volunteering since the fall semester.  His experience with special needs individuals at Bolton and Camp Barnabas in Missouri also lead him to start a chapter of the national peer group Best Buddies at the high school.

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Please note that we are currently offering our free Summer Camp/VBS Roundup as a community service only for activities that are physically located within the communities of Arlington, Lakeland, and unincorporated northeast Shelby County. To add a VBS or camp, click on www.theview38002.com/summer

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AHS_Girls Basketball 1. The AHS Lady Tigers Basketball players, coach, and parents were recognized for their achievement in their first-ever trip to the state tournament. Next year’s team will return 11 of 13 players.

2. Superintendent Mason reported that “joint conversation has begun with planner Nedra Jones & Lakeland School System Superintendent Ted Horrell” as the trio met yesterday. ACS will revisit its Five-Year Facilities Plan this fall.

3. Selection of the new AES principal will be made by end of the week, according to Mason.

4. Upon the approval of the 2015-16 Budget tonight, ACS Chief of Staff Jeff Mayo announced the posting of new positions, including social worker, instruction tech. specialist, school nurse, interim assistant principal at AMS, and teachers.

5. ACS Budget approved represents $1.2M increase over 2014-15 budget. Click link to view: bit.ly/1DJ05cH

6. Board approved $770,000 in CIP projects (from 2014-15 Shelby Co. Funds), including roof and HVAC work at AES & AHS, painting at AHS.

7. Financial report: the general fund budget expenditures are under budget with 75% of year completed.

8. The 1st class of ACS teachers was approved for tenure (3 teachers not present).

BCS_B Cheng

Benjamin Cheng. Staff Photo

At 13 years old, Briarcrest Christian School seventh-grader Benjamin Cheng  has  pretty big goals. “I really want to go on Broadway,” he explained, “and become famous there.”

While Cheng plans to get a college education first — to get his bearings and build a stable foundation in case Broadway doesn’t work out — he already has a very impressive resume for someone who has only been performing for a few years.

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