LISA RICHMOND (incumbent)

1. Why are you running for this office? What are your main platform points?

It has been a great honor to serve on the Jefferson City Schools Board of Education for the last year. I take very seriously the responsibility of the school board to set policies that focus on student achievement and implement policies that will ensure the greatest opportunity for the success of our students.

As a mother of three school age children, I have spent many hours in the Jefferson City Schools volunteering in the classrooms, sitting on the school council and assisting in the work of the PTO. Through my employment with Howell Orthodontics, I’ve also had the privilege of partnering with each of the schools through dental health awareness, career readiness events and student recognition programs.

Since my appointment in 2018, I have logged many hours of on-line and classroom training for new board members in areas including but not limited to roles and responsibilities, finance, budgeting, board governance, educational equity, strategic planning, board ethics and policy development.

I am committed to maintaining a school system with excellence in academics, athletics, fine arts and technology. I am also highly invested in a school system that is ever evolving to be financially efficient while attracting and retaining outstanding teachers, providing state-of-the-art facilities and STEAM learning opportunities, and consistently surpassing other school systems in overall student performance.

2. How do you think growth in your town or school system should be managed in the coming years?

The success of the school system is certainly a major attraction for those considering relocation to the City of Jefferson and Jackson County. The school board does not have any control over the economic decisions concerning the growth of the city; however, the school system is directly affected by such growth. In an effort to be proactive, the Jefferson City Schools recently initiated a growth study to provide enrollment projections which will serve as a planning tool for the future. I believe it will be imperative for the school board to work closely with the City Council to better understand how the two entities impact one another.

3. What do you consider the top challenges your local government will face in the next 10 years? As a city council or school board member, what would you do to address those challenges?

In the next 10 years, I expect Jefferson to experience significant growth which is both a blessing and a challenge.

There is a direct correlation between school achievement and economic growth. The Jefferson City Schools system is equipping students with the skills to achieve great success and contribute to the growth of our community, our state and our nation; therefore, we are a natural magnet for parents who want to see great outcomes for their children.

Again, it will be very important for the school board and city council to work together to manage this predicted growth. The school board is already looking ahead to plan and prepare for the increasing number of students entering the city. Together, the City Council and the citizens of Jefferson must strive to make decisions that will allow the school system to accommodate growth, keep class sizes manageable and continue to provide a quality education for all.

Another concern for parents is the safety of their children. In this ever-changing climate, we must be proactive in preparing for situations that compromise the safety of our students and staff. The school board is always working to improve security features in our schools. A new alert system was installed in all 4 schools over the summer, and tests have proven it to be successful at alerting school administrators and local law enforcement immediately after being activated. Other security measures are being researched, and plans are underway to create additional safety features to protect our campuses.

4. Please outline a brief biography and resume of yourself:

I was raised in Lilburn and graduated from Brookwood High School. I received my Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Marketing from the University of West Georgia. Immediately after graduating, I accepted a job with Randstad North America receiving top notch training in human resources, recruiting, sales and business development. When my first son was born, my husband, Tim, and I decided to settle in Jefferson because of the close-knit community and amazing school system! Soon, we completed our family with 2 more sons, and I spent much of my time volunteering in the schools and developing relationships in and around this community that we call home. In 2013, I accepted my current position at Howell Orthodontics as a Professional Relations Coordinator. Our family truly loves this community! Our family attends Southside Church, my husband is a firefighter with the Jefferson Fire Department, and our boys play sports in Jefferson and Jackson County. I am a member of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, I frequently attend services at First Baptist Church Jefferson, and I currently serve on the JCS Board of Education.

DANA PHILLIPS

1. Why are you running for this office? What are your main platform points?

● Transparency - The board of education has a responsibility to share how our tax dollars are spent. Most parents are still working during the current meeting times; live streaming meetings will ensure residents can see and hear what happens. We need to work towards erasing conflicts of interest and be 100% transparent in all actions.

● Communication - Parents and city residents should be allowed to speak before the board of education without getting clearance from the superintendent. The superintendent reports to the board: how can he have the authority to screen community input? The board should have a monthly newsletter that goes to all families attending Jefferson City Schools. As an elected official it is the board’s responsibility to communicate in an effective and timely manner to concerns brought to their attention.

● Advocacy - We need to advocate for all students, but especially those who require additional resources and support. These students and educators should have every resource to do their job at 100%. Special Education isn’t easy and there should be a large support network for these families and educators.

2. How do you think growth in your town or school system should be managed in the coming years?

● We have to address out-of-district students in a fair and balanced manner. If we lack building infrastructure, or have to increase class size to 30+ to support a certain number of out-of-district students, then we need to say no. If infrastructure supports adding additional students, then a more rigorous application process needs to be created and tuition should be adjusted annually when the millage rates are decided.

● We have to address class sizes. In many cases, we have already outgrown the existing buildings. Because of waivers filed by the board of education, the school system is allowed to modify class size restrictions established by the Georgia Board of Education. While this may have been a wise decision in 2016, with our continued growth this isn’t okay, especially when students are having to climb over furniture and backpacks to get out of classrooms. We need to address classroom and school infrastructure to ensure our buildings meet our continued growth.

● We are at a point where our school system needs a full-time superintendent. We have seen a more than 100% increase in our student body. We are currently serving 3,969 students and we all know more are coming as young families move here for the school system. With this continued growth, we will need to have an individual who can be in the office 40 hours a week. 

3. What do you consider the top challenges your local government will face in the next 10 years? As a city council or school board member, what would you do to address those challenges?

● Top challenges include continued reliance on technology, continued growth and demand from parents for more academic and vocational offerings. Jefferson has an extremely proud athletic tradition, and we should extend that gusto to provide equitable resources for academics and other extracurricular activities. All of these things support the system’s educational mission, “to maintain and improve student achievement by providing a challenging instructional program that meets the needs of all students.”

● We must face the reality that Jefferson can no longer be run as a small town. Things need to be codified and memorandums of understanding need to be created between the school system and the city. This also means tackling “gentlemen’s agreements” and making things official and transparent. It means committing to transparency in hiring processes, in decision making, and future long-term growth plans for the school system.

● We need to set term limits for elected officials to ensure that leaders are innovative and face change head on. We don’t need people being told not to run because their last name isn’t well known in the community, and we need to encourage newcomers who want to get involved and give them an opportunity to sit at the table and share their ideas. Change is good.

● We have to begin making hard decisions and being proactive about issues affecting our schools and community. We have to ensure ALL students are granted the same resources and have equal opportunities for success. We have to ensure ALL staff are well equipped and qualified for their positions, especially those who teach special education. (Among JMS special education courses, 77.78% are currently taught by under-qualified teachers; at JHS, 38.89% of special education courses are taught by under-qualified teachers. - Stats provided by the Georgia Board of Education.)

4. Please outline a brief biography and resume of yourself:

● I have been a Jefferson resident since the beginning of 2004 when my family moved here from Gwinnett County. I have been married for 19 years and we have three children who have spent their entire academic careers at Jefferson City Schools. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies with a minor in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Georgia.

During my tenure at UGA, I co-founded an internet advocacy group to assist the residents of Jefferson and Jackson County with subpar internet service. Through countless hours of work with local, state and federal politicians, Windstream executives, and other alternative internet service providers, the residents of Jefferson and Jackson County saw their internet speeds and reliability increase, thanks to a roughly 30 million dollar investment by Windstream the community. We have also seen two alternative providers also begin to service our city and county. Because of this work, the University of Georgia offered me a full scholarship and  assistantship to attend the Institute for Nonprofit Organizations, where I obtained my Masters degree in Nonprofit Leadership. I spent a year between degrees working at Jefferson High School, where I had the pleasure of working alongside amazing educators and students. I learned about issues that were important to them and their hopes for continued success at Jefferson City Schools. While my career path led me away from the classroom, I still believed there were ways I could positively contribute and advocate for the community. I currently work remotely for PatronManager, a software company based out of New York City that helps nonprofit arts organizations manage their entire operations on the Salesforce platform. I also still manage and run the Jefferson/Jackson County Windstream problems group and assist residents on Nextdoor when internet issues pop up.

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