In this series, we will preview what you need to know about the local contested races, constitutional amendments and special election questions on your Nov. 8 ballot. This week, we look at the District 5 Board of Education race and two special election questions for Forsyth County voters.
Other education-related contested races and ballot questions that will appear on your ballot:
* SPLOST for education local ballot question
* Senior homestead exemption revision
FORSYTH COUNTY -- The Forsyth County Board of Education’s District 5, which serves east Forsyth and surrounds Lake Lanier, is seeing its first contested election in 15 years.
Democrat Anita Tucker is running against incumbent Nancy Roche, a Republican who has represented District 5 since 2001.
The four other BOE seats are uncontested – incumbents Tom Cleveland for District 3 and Darla Light for District 4 are the only choice on the ballot. If Tucker wins, she will be the only Democrat on the board.
Nancy Roche, (I), Republican
WHO SHE IS
Roche has served on the Board of Education since 2001, vying for the District 5 seat for a fifth term. In 2005, she was instrumental in the board earning the title of Most Tech-Savvy Board for Large School Systems and was appointed to the Georgia School Board Association’s Board of Directors in June 2007.
REFLECTIONS ON HER FIRST TERM
“We’ve created a partnership with schools, homes and the community,” she said. “I was actually at a Principal for a Day breakfast [Thursday] morning and witnessed how much the community wants to be in the schools and [see] what’s involved in being a principal. Our community involvement has just been so good.”
Roche also said she feels the board has been fiscally responsible throughout her time.
“When [the] economy was down, we had to tighten our belt, but now that [the] economy is better, we need to evaluate where our money is being spent,” she said.
The county was the only school system throughout the state that received five stars from the Georgia Department of Education’s Financial Efficiency Star Rating, attributing the district’s high test scores and low per-pupil cost.
HER PLATFORM FOR A FIFTH TERM
“When it comes to individualized learning, technology is key. We’re not only keeping up with the growth and infrastructure, but we use it effectively instead of just using to say we use it. It really helps offer new opportunities to our students,” Roche said. “I’ve really worked to address bullying [and that] kids [are] under so much stress.”
Roche opposes the Opportunity School District, which will appear as Amendment 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot.
“We feel that Opportunity School District is not the right approach to increasing student achievement,” she said. “We also feel the state really needs to address the community issues rather than just coming in and taking the [schools] over.”
Anita Tucker, Democrat
WHO SHE IS
Though Tucker has never run public office before, she said she understands Georgia issues well, having lived in the state for more than 30 years. She earned a Bachelor of Science from Southern Polytechnic State University in 1999 and has experience in manufacturing and construction as a project planner.
CAUSES IN HER PLATFORM
Tucker said she also opposes Opportunity School District.
“It’s duplicate bureaucracy and Georgia already has an office of school improvement,” she said. “It [would] put too much power in too few hands and there’s no accountability. It doesn’t talk about how schools will be improved, doesn’t address English as a second language barriers or barriers to students with disabilities.”
Tucker said she also feels the current Board of Education is not as fiscally responsible as it should be, her concern stemming from a $10 million increase in the budget for the Alliance Academy for Innovation of Cumming-Forsyth County that was proposed earlier this year.
“It’s the BOE’s duty to be that voice and it concerns me that the [budget] increase didn’t get enough outreach or the traction it felt like it needed,” she said.
She said she is also running to create more dialogue between schools, teachers, the board, parents and students. The repercussions of a local teacher’s racist comments highlight why Tucker wants discussion.
“Jayne Allen is not an isolated case,” Tucker said. “She was a symptom, and she is not the only one and this needs to be brought into the open. To fix problems, you must first acknowledge they exist.”