Hot summer board races?
Who thought we'd be talking about School Board races in June? A year and a half before the next election? Could be an interesting election year for the Hillsborough School Board.
School Board Chairman Jack Lamb (on the left) didn't draw any opposition in his last election. But after some high-profile controversies, he's already drawn a challenger in Fred Burns (on the right), a Freedom High School government teacher. Burns says he was thinking about running and spurred into action after seeing fellow teachers cut off in mid-sentence when they came to School Board meetings to speak. He is among those protesting Superintendent MaryEllen Elia's decision to force high school instructors to teach an additional class period with less planning time next year.
Teaching is a second career for Burns, a New Tampa resident and father of three students, all girls, at Wharton High. He left the corporate world to spend more time with his family. He's been in the classroom for five years. You can learn more about his resume at www.fredburns.com. "I've been doing a lot more listening than talking," says Burns of his fledgling campaign, making time to talk with the Gradebook from Maui, Hawaii, where he is on a family vacation. According to his campaign blog, he brought along the book, Five Habits of High Impact School Boards, for a little light reading.
But if elected, Burns says voters won't find him in Hawaii or any other town outside Hillsborough on official business. In a dig on School Board members being scrutinized for their travels, including Lamb, Burns pledges to stay within the range of a local call. The Gradebook hasn't had a chance to check out his credentials, but stay tuned during the coming year for coverage of the School Board races. So far, incumbent members Susan Valdes and Carol Kurdell have filed to run for re-election.
Lamb, who wasn't aware he's already drawn a challenger, also plans to run again. He says people in the schools have been asking him to seek another term. But he's not going to move into campaign mode until early 2008.
- Letitia Stein, Hillsborough County education reporter