The Union Recorder

July 29, 2012

Candidate Q&A: Mike Screws

The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — You challenged the qualifications of the incumbent earlier this year based on the state’s nepotism clause? If you had it to do over again, would you still support that challenge and do you think the nepotism clause is too lenient?

I strongly support the challenge I made May 30 regarding the qualifications of the District 2 BOE member to seek re-election with a spouse serving on the central office staff. The state’s nepotism law is too lenient and unclear and should be rewritten. In the mean time, our local board should craft strict policies preventing immediate family members from working in the central office if their spouse is a BOE member. Many citizens of District 2 have told me that matters of such importance should not be defined by date, but rather what is the most ethical thing to do, for the best interest of the children we serve.

How do you feel the board of education can be more transparent in its dealings? What about ethics — how accountable should individuals in public office be? When should they step down?

The board can be more transparent by streaming the meetings on the Internet so more citizens can keep up with what is going on in our school system. Another thing that can be done is for the board and school leadership to hold town hall meetings three times a year for the purpose of exchanging ideas. By having the BOE members and school leadership in a setting to take and answer questions, accountability will be strengthened. Individuals elected to serve the public are accountable to the voters whom they serve, and should always uphold the highest degree of ethics and moral behavior. Any potential violations should be investigated and appropriate action taken.

Are you opposed to raising the millage rate?

Yes, I am opposed to raising the millage rate. Our citizens are being taxed enough. We must attract more industries to Milledgeville. This will increase our tax base and revenues. Having a high quality school system is a major drawing card when industries are considering locating here. We should have a Public Relations Director charged with identifying additional funding sources from the state and federal government. Also endowments and grants of every kind should be sought. A thorough look into the job functions of central office staff should be reviewed: cuts in spending need to start at the top, and financial resources redirected to the classroom so our teachers will have the resources they need for effective instruction.

What do you think board members can do to foster a better environment to retain quality teachers?

Retention of quality teachers should always be on the mind of board members. Making sure the teaching salary supplements are competitive with surrounding counties is important. Some tuition assistance for teachers who go back and earn graduate degrees would be appreciated. Seeking stronger community involvement so more volunteers can serve in the classrooms to assist our teachers would mean a lot. Putting the paraprofessionals back into the elementary classrooms would improve the classroom teacher’s effectiveness so more at-risk students could be helped. Quality teachers thrive on respect. Regular visits from board members to schools and listening sessions with teachers and follow-up on their suggestions would go a long with to improve respect and instructional effectiveness.

How would you describe the role of a school board member in meeting the needs of constituents and serving the overall needs of the school system?

A school board member’s role in meeting the needs of their constituents is to be responsive. When a parent calls a board member with a problem, that board representative should return that call in a very timely manner. Depending on the seriousness of the problem, the board member should make contact with the principal to facilitate a resolution. After a short period of time, the board member should call the parent to follow-up and make sure their problem or issue has been taken care of to their satisfaction. In order to serve the overall needs of the school system, the board member should attend all scheduled and called meetings. The board member should do any necessary research on agenda items to be fully prepared. The board member should weigh other members’ opinions carefully, and strive to reach a consensus the whole board can support. When making comments to the press, board members should not disparage other members decisions. Board members should attend special events showcasing the successes of our local schools. And board members should support the superintendent and central office staff on their initiatives.