Rebuttals from Huff, Hunsinger, Bell, Jackson
Here are the rebuttals to the St. Petersburg Times editorial board recommendations from four of the five Pinellas School Board candidates who were not recommended. Only District 6 candidate Brian Hawley did not offer a rebuttal.
Fonda Huff | Pinellas School Board, District 2
I moved to Pinellas County 11 years ago with my entire family when my son, Aubrey Huff, was drafted by the Rays. In that time I have witnessed a system that has lacked common sense. I have 17 years of experience in two different school systems, and I believe that we can cut our budget yet preserve a good educational model. We can do this without raising taxes, unlike my opponent, who stated on Aug. 3 she would have voted for the property tax rate increase. I also would not have extended the superintendent's contract, unlike my opponent. Seeing the positive effects fundamental schools have on children firsthand because my granddaughter attends one and I worked at Osceola High School, I can tell you that parents want to be more involved in their child's education.
Greg Hunsinger | Pinellas School Board, District 3
I have lived in Pinellas for almost 60 years and am a product of this school system. I retired two years ago after teaching middle school-aged children for over 35 years. My grandson is beginning first grade here.
I believe in the hands-on approach in collecting information for good problem-solving and decisionmaking. I see three main areas of improvement: a standardization and strengthening of our countywide enforcement of discipline; increased transparency of the decisionmaking process; and a refocusing of our energies and resources toward the needs of the classroom where the learning takes place.
Having served the public for many years, and having been entrusted with meeting the educational needs for thousands of students, I am asking for four more years of providing the students of Pinellas County with the skills necessary to live and prosper in society today.
Keisha Bell | Pinellas School Board, District 7
Although I was not recommended by the Times, I am very qualified to represent District 7 on the Pinellas County School Board. A new vision is needed for Pinellas County schools and I am the face of that vision. I am a strong advocate, mediator and negotiator with experience in managing federal budgets and policy development. My legal education will be advantageous in understanding the legal matters affecting Pinellas County schools. My diversified background will bring innovative ideas to the board.
My priorities include: Having an independent auditor review Pinellas County schools; a fundamental high school in District 7; reducing the achievement gap, thereby increasing overall student achievement; setting clear expectations; having consistent accountability; and introducing healthier food options in schools. My sole motivation is my belief that all students deserve a quality education and I will work tirelessly toward that goal.
Jim Jackson | Pinellas School Board, District 7
As a college professor for over 30 years and someone with a lifelong passion for education, I am well-equipped for this job. Unlike one of my opponents, my loyalty is not to the status quo or special interest groups in the system. My loyalty is to you — the voter, the parent, the taxpayer.
There are other big differences between the candidates in the District 7 race. Both of my opponents supported the property tax rate increase. Many of us can't afford it. At a recent forum, both said that cuts in our campus police were on the table. That should be explored only as a last resort. School safety is too important to act otherwise.
Our children deserve safe, world-class schools. I will work to make that happen.