Meet Your Arlington School Board Candidates

Arlington Candidates Photos

Update: Dexter Orman is no longer running.

Last month, The View 38002 contacted the candidates running for school board in Arlington and Lakeland.  Each candidate from the same municipality was sent the same four questions and instructions. Candidates were instructed to answer each question separately, but the total number of words for the four  answers combined should not exceed 275 words.  The responses printed here are unedited, except for formatting that does not change the content or intent of the answer, or for length in excess of the word limit.

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

Question 1: What are your qualifications for this position, and what specific skills and experiences do you bring to the board that will assist with starting a municipal school system?

Danny Young

My wife & I have 5 children; I have always taken a hands-on approach to their education. Have been a Substitute Teacher, studied child development, have a diverse background. Former US Marine in high security levels in many different leadership roles, been a District Manager over larger areas, personnel, working within budgets. Have integrity, honesty, transparent, open, trustworthy, accessible, and approachable. Believe in being held accountable, having check/balance systems in place to ensure accountability. Able to think outside the box & stay focused on the task, work well with others, strong person that believes in standing up for what is right. Frontline advocate for students.

Barbara Fletcher
I attended Shelby County Schools and graduated from Bolton High. I attended the University of Memphis and received a B.S. and Master’s in Elementary Education, plus Certification in Administration and Supervision. I was employed with Shelby County Schools for 36 years as a teacher, assistant principal and principal. Since retiring from SCS, I have been employed with Crye-Leike.

Kevin Yates
I have a professional background in education, business and project management. I believe my experience in the classroom along with my business and project management skills will serve the board in a unique way. My recent experience has allowed me to work on major corporative initiatives that have involved large, cross-functional teams in efforts to implement new solutions within specific timelines.

Kay Williams
I served 31 years in the Shelby County School system, as both a teacher and an administrator. I was twice elected President of the Shelby County Educational Association and twice voted Administrator of the Year for SCS. I opened three new schools for SCS: Rivercrest Elementary, Southwind Middle, and Bon Lin Elementary. I hold Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Memphis. Presently, I am an Adjunct Professor at Christian Brothers University supervising student and intern teachers.

Dale Viox
I am a pediatric anesthetist, however; my early work history involved running a successful business. I have dedicated my life and career to the care of children and every day I am honored when parents trust me with the lives of their children. Anesthesia demands a calm demeanor but perhaps more importantly; critical thinking is mandatory for every case, every time. This is what I will bring to the school board.

Question 2: Both Arlington Middle School and Arlington High School are above their intended capacity, and recently the town has approved over 400 new housing units. What numbers would you propose as target enrollment for these two schools to provide the best quality education for Arlington students and what do you see as the attendance zone boundaries if the population of Arlington continues to grow?

Danny Young
Some schools in our system are over or at intended capacity, while others are under intended capacity. All matters that arise should be handled as a team effort, by not only the board, but everyone, students, parents, teachers, superintendent, board of aldermen/mayor, and community. Team effort is what it will take to ensure that children receive the best education available.

Barbara Fletcher
The State Board of Education is the governing body for the Tennessee system of public education. The Board’s recommended class size for grades 7-12 is 30 students. Based on this requirement, I would propose 30 students per class. As Arlington grows, the School Board’s priority will be education. If necessary, we may need to adjust boundaries, expand classroom capacity to the maximum or build a new school.

Kevin Yates
There will need to be a long term strategy between Lakeland and Arlington to decide the facility needs between the two municipalities along with cooperation with SCS for those in the unincorporated areas. In the near term, attendance zones will need to be frozen to provide the least disruption for the students and allow budgeting needs to be fully understood and normalized.

Kay Williams
Until negotiations between our town leaders and the Shelby County Board of Education to finalize attendance zones for children in the county’s unincorporated areas are complete, those numbers are not knowable because the exact number of children we must educate at those schools is not known. Our task will be to provide the best quality education for all children zoned to us.

Dale Viox
The mayor has been vocal about keeping all of the current Arlington students in Arlington schools; I echo those sentiments because it is the right thing to do for the children. Instead of throwing out some arbitrary number I say that we need to be prepared for many children to enter our system. I believe that we must look at a long term plan that factors in the growth of our community, anything less would be a disservice.

Question 3: Arlington Elementary School was recently identified as being in the top 5% of schools in the state for its 2013 TCAP scores. What model do you support for maintaining a high level of academic success in Arlington’s municipal school system? Will you advocate a return to the staffing policies and student-teacher ratios of pre-merger SCS?

Danny Young

Arlington has great schools; most all of us can say that’s why we moved here in the first place. First responsibility of the school board is to make policies for sound schools that will ensure all students receive a quality education. Student-teacher ratio fall within these policies. Remember that a good school board does not run the schools; it ensures that they are well run.

Barbara Fletcher
The Tennessee Department of Education has set measurable goals for improving the education system at every level. Tennessee continues to set the standard in education reform and to become the fastest-improving educational system in the country by raising student performance. Before the pre-merger, Shelby County Schools were making the grade and as soon as Arlington can regain control, we need to return to the SCS goals and keep moving forward.

Kevin Yates
I would want to encourage knowledge sharing of all successes within the school district whether it is from a school, department or individual. I will also seek opportunities to benchmark with other successful districts, not just locally but nationally, in order to learn of innovative practices. I will be looking for opportunities to reduce class sizes. SES is expected to update its feasibility study which will provide recent budgeting predictions which may indicate staffing expectations.

Kay Williams
I endorse a student-centered model of education, where the school is the nurturer of each child’s individual thinking and reasoning skills. The end result of a child’s journey in our schools should be a mature individual with the foundation to achieve their goals and also be a good citizen.
I do support the return to the staffing policies and student-teacher ratios of the pre-merger system.

Dale Viox
If it is not broken, don’t fix it. I am intelligent enough to let the teachers teach, they are the ones that make us shine. My son attends Arlington Elementary and the excellence there is apparent. I absolutely support a return to pre merger staffing and student-teacher ratios. There is abundant scientific evidence, especially in K-3 classes, that equates lower student-teacher ratios to higher academic success, including Tennessee’s own Project STAR.

Question 4: Health insurance premiums increased this year for SCS employees. What priority do you place on offering a salary and benefits package for Arlington municipal school employees comparable to the pre-merger SCS and will you support transferring tenure and step increases for current SCS teachers?

Danny Young

School districts are often the largest employers in a community, decisions they make affect jobs, resources, most importantly, education of all students. I feel ALL employees of Arlington should have the best salary/benefits that can be afforded to them, pre-merger, post-merger, no-merger.

Barbara Fletcher
Research shows teachers have a huge impact on how much students learn. Students who get the best teachers learn a lot. We need to keep the best teachers and in order to do so, we need to provide the same salary and benefits package. I will support transferring tenure and step increases for current SCS teachers.

Kevin Yates
Currently, local municipalities are looking into various benefits packages that are offered through the state and other private insurance providers. This effort will allow the school board a starting place to choose from best available options in terms of cost and coverage. In order to recruit and retain the best teachers, we must be competitive with our salaries in comparison with SCS and other systems. I am for keeping the step increases and tenure, however, tenure must be recommended by the superintendent before the school board can approve.

Kay Williams
The welfare of our teachers and staff, who are so important to the success of our children, is a top priority. I support a salary and benefits package comparable to the pre-merger SCS, and also support transfer of tenure and step raises for current SCS teachers.

Dale Viox
The feasibility study was based on pre merger salary and benefits so there is no question we can do it. My thoughts concerning our teachers are that we must keep them, in order to do that we have to pay them. There should be merit increases and teachers should be rewarded for continued education.

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