Meet Your Lakeland School Board Candidates

Lakeland Candidates Photos

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 Q&A Process

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.

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?

Kevin Floyd

I have two daughters ages 8 and 4.  My oldest is currently a student at Lakeland Elementary. I had the privilege of being elected to Lakeland’s School Board last year and serving on the School Transition Planning Committee for the last two years.  I also served as Treasurer for the Vote Yes for Lakeland Municipal Schools committee in 2013.  I’m a practicing attorney, which I believe will bring a unique perspective to the Board.

Andy Griffith

My name is James Andrew “ANDY” Griffith. My wife, Teresa M. Griffith, and I are parents of three children (6 & 7 yr old girls & a 2 yr old boy).  My daughters, currently in first and third grades,  have been in the Shelby Co School System and at the same school since they began school. I’m serving this year as Parliamentarian for the Donelson Elementary PTA. I earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Political Science and History and minored in Criminal Justice.  Since April 2010 I have served as a school resource officer for a public middle school and am a member of the National Association of School Resource Officers.  Working with several different principals, one who is the current principal of Arlington High School, I have learned what works and what could be improved upon.  I believe my more than sixteen years of law enforcement experience, being a father of three children (two attending public schools), and currently working inside of a public school gives me the necessary knowledge and experience to be a board member of a newly formed public school system.

Kelley Hale

I have a master’s degree in education and am a former teacher in the Shelby County Schools. I taught in grades 1-6 and thoroughly enjoyed being in the classroom.  I now have 4 children that attend Lakeland and Arlington schools. I serve as a PTA board member at both LES and AMS. I have been room mom and volunteer often in both schools. I also have worked the past 2 years on the Vote Yes For Lakeland Schools committee. I feel that all of my experiences give me an important and unique perspective that will be an asset for the Lakeland School Board.

Laura Harrison

I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering, an MBA, and have worked for 12 years as a project engineer for a Fortune 500 company. While working on project teams, my responsibilities have included project lead, financial analysis, data gathering, and process improvement. I am actively involved as a Lakeland Elementary PTA Board Member and room parent. I also served on the Vote Yes for Lakeland Schools committee. Most importantly I have four children that will be a part of the Lakeland Municipal school system so any decision I make  will not only impact all Lakeland children, it will impact my own.

Teresa Henry

My professional background is Human Resources and Medical Office Management.  This gives me the experience to review salaries and benefits that our school district can offer to retain and recruit the top personnel for our children.  Currently as a stay at home mom, I will have the time to dedicate to the creation of the Lakeland School District.

Over the past 10 years, through my involvement with the PTA, I have been in the schools and have seen the challenges the administration and staff encounter on a daily basis.  I was awarded the PTA Life Achievement award.

I worked with other leaders of the grass roots movement to ensure the Municipal School legislation was passed in Nashville.  I was on the Vote Yes for Lakeland Schools Committee.  I was elected for the Lakeland School Board last year.

Greg Pater

My name is Greg Pater and I am a candidate for the Lakeland Municipal School Board.  I have been a math teacher for nine years and at a charter school in Memphis since 2011.  Originally from Los Angeles, then Knoxville, I have experience in multiple school districts.  This gives me comparative insight into the workings of school districts and the ability to incorporate the best features from all of them.  As a math teacher I am organized and able to view problems from different perspectives to find a solution.

Matt Wright

I was the President of the Vote Yes Lakeland Single Measure Committee working alongside a talented team of people to make that happen.  I’m also the founder of marketvex.com and having that entrepreneurial experience will be needed for creative and unique solutions.  I’m on my church’s finance committee (overseeing a 5 million dollar budget).  Also, our children attend Lakeland Elementary.

 

Question 2:  Approximately 60% of Lakeland’s students attend schools outside of Lakeland, including students at all grade levels from K-12.  Do you believe that Lakeland should provide its own educational services?  If so, what timeline would you propose for building additional schools and/or rezoning students to Lakeland Elementary School, which is currently below capacity?

Kevin Floyd

I believe Lakeland needs to do what’s best for the children of Lakeland.  The need for future buildings will be determined by many factors including population growth, school capacity limitations, fiscal readiness, and assessing whether or not we are meeting the needs of our children.  It seems unrealistic to set a time table at this point, however this is issue will need to be monitored closely.

Andy Griffith

Unfortunately, due to so many businesses closing in Lakeland, there are a number of empty buildings that could quickly and easily be converted for use as schools for its children if Lakeland does not continue to share school buildings in other cities as they do now.  Without increasing taxes, which I do NOT support, Lakeland would not be able to fiscally afford to build or recondition an existing building for its own schools.

Kelley Hale

I feel that it is in our best interest to work with other municipalities. Sharing our resources will benefit us all and will provide the great education we are accustomed to having.  As Lakeland continues to grow, we’ll most likely need to make decisions concerning additional buildings in the future.

Laura Harrison

For the immediate future, Lakeland would be best served by working with other local school boards to provide a quality education to K-12 students in a fiscally efficient manner. Ultimately population growth and building capacities will determine when the need will arise to build any additional schools.

Teresa Henry

The school board will have to create a 5 and 10 year plan.  Reserve funds will need to be budgeted for future buildings and capital expenditures.  The population growth for Lakeland and Arlington will determine the timeline for future buildings.  I will vote for Lakeland and Arlington to share as many schools and services as possible.

Greg Pater

While working at my current charter school I recognize the benefits, and pitfalls, that a small school, or in our case, a small district may have.  I believe that we can sustain a small system of our own consisting of our elementary school and a middle school within the next 2-6 years.  In order to encourage parents to enroll their children in the Lakeland schools we should encourage and promote extra-curricular activities at all levels such as music and sports.

Matt Wright

It’s simple, I want to do what’s best for Lakeland students.  Does that mean we need to provide our own educational services?  Perhaps.  However, there are great advantages of co-op agreements that help tremendously from a budgeting perspective.  But so much is still developing it would be foolish to say we know exactly what we will do because we just don’t have all the information.  Ultimately that’s our job, to work with the budget and pieces provided to us as a school board and turn that into the best situation for our kids.

 

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

Kevin Floyd

Lakeland elementary has been performing at an exceptional level for several years, and the teachers and staff of Lakeland deserve an enormous amount of credit.  Our teachers have proven that given the right environment and tools they can excel.  I’ll be an advocate for lower student-teacher ratios and proper school staffing and policies that give teachers the opportunity to do what they do best – Teach.

Andy Griffith

TCAP is a thing of the past! The new test is PARCC.  According to school administrators, this is the last year for TCAP testing.

Kelley Hale

Research has shown that the pre merger staffing models can be supported. I believe that low student-teacher ratios should be in place to better benefit the students. This will need to be done while working within our budget. I’d like to continue to offer the programs that are currently in place, but also explore new, innovative ideas that could make LES even better.

Laura Harrison

In order to maintain high achievement, we must continue to utilize strategies that have created success including engagement from teachers, school administration, and parents.  In addition we need to benchmark from other successful schools to try new strategies that will continue to elevate the level of achievement. The Southern Education Strategies feasibility study reflected that the estimated Lakeland school budget would support the SCS pre-merger staffing models. I am a proponent of these lower student-teacher ratios while realizing we also must operate within our budgetary constraints.

Teresa Henry

If financially feasible, I believe Lakeland should return to the staffing model prior to the Unified District.  We need to give the teachers the support staff they need so they can focus on educating our children.  I will investigate the use of technology to help our teachers make the best use of their time and educational skills.

Greg Pater

With the coming Common Core curriculum, in addition to the effective schools movements, excellence in education requires constant work and development.  I am a current participant in mastery learning and effective schools and I would like to incorporate aspects of those teaching methods in our school(s).  I’d like our kids to learn the material without sacrificing the interesting parts of it.

Matt Wright

We have kids at Lakeland Elementary and I’ve seen the amazing education they’ve received.  So the model we’ve used has been successful and I’d be happy to consider that model again. With that said though, I want to be a school system the rest of the country looks at and says, “Wow, they really are doing things different in Lakeland, TN that we need to seriously consider.”

 

Question 4:  Currently the Lakeland municipal school system will consist of only one school.  What do you see as the best use of taxpayer funds for administrative costs and board expenditures?

Kevin Floyd

The best use of taxpayer funds in my opinion is to limit the administrative costs and board expenditures to ensure the funds make it to the classroom.  We can do this by managing cost and cooperating with other school districts to share costs on many expenditures.  The success of our school system will be largely determined by the school board’s ability to limit administrative cost.

Kelley Hale

By working with other school boards, we can create efficiencies and cost savings that will help keep administrative and board expenses down. This will ensure that money goes to the classroom to support all the instructional needs for the teachers, which will ultimately benefit our children.

Laura Harrison

Strong fiscal management with controlled and purposeful administrative and board spending will ensure that maximum funding makes it to the classroom. This includes partnering with other local school boards to realize efficiencies through shared services and other economies of scale.

Teresa Henry

We will have to implement cooperative agreements with Arlington and other school districts.  Using economies of scale we will reduce expenses to allow more funds for the classroom.

Greg Pater

I believe that while we only have one school, the administrative costs should consist of a small stipend for board members and a reasonable salary for a school teachers and administrators.  They should be paid what they’re worth and commensurate with their experience, efforts, and results.

Matt Wright

As a conservative individual, both socially and fiscally, our job is to stay within budget.  It’s critical. That’s why cooperating with other entities in a variety of different ways will be important.  I know we can do this without sacrificing the experience and education our children deserves.

 

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