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Carter and McMahan to face off in July 22 DeKalb school board runoff
by LaTria Garnigan
July 01, 2014 10:43 AM | 3373 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Karen Carter
Karen Carter
Jim McMahan
Jim McMahan
Karen Carter, incumbent
Age: 51
Occupation: college professor and department chair
Length of residency: 13 years, Twitter: @karenfordekalb

How will you guarantee to not make the mistakes of the past school board (that was removed by Gov. Nathan Deal)?

This requires the continued commitment to board norms that establish how the board will interact amongst itself as well as its engagement with the superintendent, staff and the community. Moreover, as board member my role is primarily policy maker and advocate. Along with other board members, we must be visionaries who understand what the students, teachers and schools need today to help them achieve high academic success.

It is critical for all board members to have a fundamental understanding of the broad range of concerns that impact the district; however, for the board to be most effective and efficient, it cannot take a ‘shot-gun’ approach to its work. I believe that it is appropriate for board members to focus on a few prioritized issues at a time. By undertaking this approach the board establishes a consistent approach that moves from issue to resolution in a timely manner. It also demonstrates to the public the board’s ability to work collaboratively.

What are your top three concerns regarding the state of schools in DeKalb County?

The continued improvement of student achievement through the implementation of policies and a sustainable budget that equips teachers to deliver high-quality and differentiated instruction. The continued improved financial management policies and procedures and, last but not least, the recruitment and hiring of a superintendent.

Jim McMahan, incumbent
Age: 48
Occupation: mortgage professional
Length of residency: 18 years

How will you guarantee to not make the mistakes of the past school board (that was removed by Gov. Nathan Deal)?

The main reason I ran for District 4 two years ago was because I saw the prior board of education making decisions to benefit adults at the expense of our children’s education. Misappropriated money, irrational decision making and a complete lack of trust from the taxpayers of DeKalb and our accreditation agency — the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools — was what our county faced when I ran and was elected by the voters of District 4.

Much of our current board has done a commendable job notwithstanding many challenges that we still need to improve upon — working with a new superintendent, working with the same administration that oversaw the district’s demise throughout the past decade and attempting to reform a budget and governance structure where only 61.8 percent of all education funds are being spent in the classroom and on our teachers. I am on a transformational mission within the district to change the culture of low achievement and entrenched bureaucracy.

What are your top three concerns regarding the state of schools in DeKalb County?
1. Increase student achievement
2. Increase teacher compensation
3. Reducing central office bloat

The more important question is how do we accomplish this as fast as we can? The superintendent held several meetings throughout DeKalb this past year and the taxpayers and stakeholders have spoken loud and clear. Taxpayers demand and deserve local control and governance over their community schools. They also deserve the per-pupil resources earned equally by all the children of DeKalb to be allocated to the schools and the teachers, not the central office.

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