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Ex-planner enters race

Former planner Susan Cooper, 34, is seeking the District 5 School Board seat being vacated by Don Hensley. Mrs. Cooper, who has lived in Hernando since 1982, says she became involved in the district's educational system when her son entered kindergarten. "I worked as a volunteer in his classroom and became aware of the teacher salary struggles and the growth and overcrowding problems," she said in announcing her candidacy this week.

She said she asked a teachers union spokesman to address the Eastside Elementary School parent-teacher group concerning the impact in the school system of low teachers' salaries.

At the December 1989 public hearing on the teacher contract proposal, she asked the School Board to approve higher teacher wages.

She said she considers teacher salaries the district's biggest issue.

"I don't plan to raise taxes, but I do plan on finding the money (for teacher pay raises) in the early stages of the budget."

Mrs. Cooper also wants to focus on construction costs in the district. She said she thinks the district should work to upgrade existing schools, as well as build new ones.

"Instead of moving Hernando High School to another building, let's look at keeping it cleaner and just a better place to be in," she said.

A former planner for the Miami Area Agency on Aging, she has experience in grant-writing and implementation. She also served on a Tampa study commission to determine the needs of children.

She has a bachelor's degree in urban studies and a master's degree in planning and administration of human services.

She lives on a ranch in east Hernando.

Hensley, the current chairman of the School Board, announced Tuesday that he would not seek a third term.

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