Candidates running for president of the SCCPSS school board discuss plans for the district
SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Those vying to be the next president of the Savannah-Chatham County Public school board faced off Sunday during a debate.
The candidates answered questions on a variety of topics that could impact decisions for your child’s school.
Tye Whitley, Todd Rhodes, and Roger Moss are running for that spot and spoke out about their plans for the district.
Among the issues the need for greater staff salaries and mental health services.
Some of the candidates say that can be fixed within the existing $650 million budget.
“Yes, we need that mental health work. Yes, we need smaller classrooms. We can do that within this budget,” Roger Moss, SCCPSS School Board President Candidate said.
“I believe we have enough funds that we’ll be able to make sure things go towards where they need to go,” Todd Rhodes, SCCPSS School Board President Candidate said.
But others left open the possibility of supporting a rise in tax rates in order to pay for more services that they say could benefit students.
“Do we need to raise taxes as a way to solve that problem? No, I don’t think so. But do we need to keep that option open? I think so,” Tye Whitley, SCCPSS School Board President Candidate said.
Candidates also answered questions about non proficiencies among some students in reading.
“If you talk to employers in Savannah, they will tell you there are too many employees who have graduated from Chatham County Public Schools who can’t read,” Moss said.
But Whitely who has children in the school system disagrees.
“My children can read. Mr. Rhodes, can your children read? Ok thank you very much,” Whitely said.
And said the approach to tests and teaching needs to change.
“That’s hands on learning. That is letting teachers teach to the students that are in their class for that school year. We need to get back to letting teachers close their doors, learn their students and teach,” Whitely said.
Most agreed that the solutions won’t come from just one person.
“It just can’t be the kid. It just can’t be the parent. It has to be a team or network of people working together to solve problems,” Rhodes said.
During the forum, the three candidates for president of the school board were also asked about their thoughts on the policy of book selection in the school and how they would address parents that have concerns about the material in the school libraries and classrooms.
“This is something that is very systemic with Chatham County Public Schools, there is a lack of transparency, we need to be upfront with parents about everything and yes, I would review that policy but what I want parents to understand is not only that we have these books but why we have these books,” Moss said.
“It is my job as a mom to look into my children’s bookbag and see what they brought home, it is my job as a mom to say this not appropriate, it is my job to go back to the teacher and say this is what my child got from this library can we talk about this, we cannot absolve parents of the responsibility of being parents,” Whitely said.
“It’s all up to the parent, it should be up to the parents on deciding because we live in a different time, kids have access to cell phones, they can pull up anything at any given moment to see whatever, so it should be our job to make sure that at the same time we educate our children at what to look at and what not to look at, what is appropriate and what is not appropriate,” Rhodes said.
The candidates will have their final face off on the ballot on May 24. April 25 is the last day to register to vote.
Education advocacy group Voices for Schools hosted today’s forum.
In addition to the school board president candidates those running for district seats also spoke at Sunday’s event.
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