VALDOSTA — Two contestants are running for the empty District 2 seat on the Valdosta Board of Education: Kelisa Brown and Edgar Tooley.
The district, which represents the southeast part of Valdosta, has been vacant since Vanassa Flucas announced her departure during the Aug. 28, 2018, city school board meeting.
Instead of filling it then, the board voted to wait until special elections this month.
Only District 2 residents can vote to fill the seat.
E-SPLOST, a one-cent sales tax that goes toward both city schools and Lowndes County schools, is also on the ballot. If passed, the proposed E-SPLOST would go into effect when the current education special purpose local option sales tax ends.
Early voting for the two races lasts until Friday, March 15, and Election Day is March 19.
The Valdosta Daily Times recently interviewed the two school board candidates.
The Valdosta Daily Times: Why did you decide to run for the District 2 Board of Education seat?
Brown: "I’m an educator. I’ve been in education before I even graduated from college. I’ve always had a passion for education and teaching the youth, especially at-risk youth. To run for District 2 goes along with that desire to make a difference in the lives of our young people."
Tooley: "(I’m running) in order to look into some issues we’re having in the school system. I want to make sure our kids are getting the right curriculum so that they’re moving from grade to grade correctly."
The Times: Have you run for an elected position before?
Brown: "This is my first time. I’m a family consultant for therapeutic foster care, but I have a background in education, social work and mental health."
Tooley: "I ran for Board of Education in a different district last time. I’m also the manager of Amvets Post 607."
The Times: What plans do you have for District 2 if elected?
Brown: "I would like to become part of the team and make the decisions as far as recruitment of teachers, and I want to bring forth a change. We currently have an awesome team because I go to the Board of Education meetings. I observe the items that are brought to the table, and they really work as a team. They are making some changes and making a difference. I want to become part of that and add a different perspective when necessary."
Tooley: "I want to look into the issue with bus drivers. Kids are getting home from school late and getting to school late, and it is a big concern from parents right now. It’s also important to increase the grad rate and prepare these young people for college and technical school and to join the workforce."
The Times: What association do you have to Valdosta City Schools? Example: you went there, you have kids/grandkids that go there, etc.
Brown: "I went to school there. My children graduated from there, and my granddaughter is about to start. I also worked there in the '90s in the special education department."
Tooley: "I’m a Valdosta Wildcat through and through. I graduated from here. I have five kids that went through city schools, and I have six grandkids in the system now."
The Times: Why should the people of District 2 vote for you?
Brown: "I have experience with education and youth. I know the different things that go on in the school system, and I know what teachers have to deal with and what the kids go through. I have a holistic, well-rounded perspective that can help our young people and contribute to that decision-making process that is already taking place. I want to be their voice."
Tooley: "Valdosta City Schools is a good school system. It has a lot of outstanding employees and we need to try to keep them and hire more so we can get new, innovative ways to teach our kids."
Katelyn Umholtz is a reporter with the Valdosta Daily Times. She can be contacted at (229)244-3400 ext. 1256.