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School Board race a rematch

The last time Janet Herndon and B. J. Collins went head to head on the ballot was the Democratic runoff election in 1992.

Collins lost then. But with a renewed interest in serving on the board and a switch to the Republican Party, Collins is hoping to turn that outcome around Nov. 8.

Herndon, on the other hand, is looking to win her first full, four-year term on the board. She served only two years in the first term because she was completing the term of Karen Johnson, who had quit to run for the state Senate.

Herndon points to the leadership she has shown on the board while Collins points to his own years of experience as an agriculture teacher and his commitment to the community.

A strong advocate of student discipline, Collins has a platform that includes zero tolerance for any weapons or drugs on school grounds, strong support for alternative programs including so-called time-out programs in the elementary schools, increased pay for teachers and other school employees and continued support for teachers and the community participating in the education process.

He has said that he is running for the board because "I feel at home in the schools" and wants to contribute to the institution he has been involved with for three decades.

Collins is a 59-year-old retired teacher with 31 years of experience. He also founded the Lecanto 44 Nursery and earned his bachelor of science degree from the University of Florida.

He has been a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Polk County Agricultural Teachers Association and the Citrus County Fair Association board of directors. He is also past president of the Deerwood Civic Association and is a former Little League coach.

He has shunned media and organizational endorsements during the campaign, saying they are elitist.

Collins considers himself more of a peacemaker trying to get along with other school system representatives _ a direct shot at Herndon, who has developed a strained relationship with Superintendent Carl Austin because she frequently asks questions and justifications for administration actions.

In her time on the board, Herndon's questions have prompted strong criticisms by the state auditor general of Austin and his procedures and helped prompt Austin to form a new budgeting system that involves more people in the school system.

She is also among the board members who have supported establishing alternative schools and was instrumental in discovering continuing radon problems at the Inverness schools last year.

Herndon, 45, has taught at schools ranging from Inverness Primary School to Pasco-Hernando Community College. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of West Florida and a master's in guidance from the University of South Florida, and has been working on her doctorate at the University of Florida.

She has been a member of the American Association of University Women, the League of Women Voters, the Central Florida Healthy Start Coalition, the PTA and the Citrus Organization for the Gifted.

The Citrus County Education Association, which represents the county's teachers, has strongly endorsed Herndon.

Herndon has overall been an advocate for change in the educational system _ change tied directly to the interests and involvement of teachers, parents and the community.

THE ISSUES

District 5 candidates for the Citrus County School Board recently were asked questions about where they stand on the issues. Here are the results.

Corporal punishment

B.

J. Collins, Republican: He supports keeping corporal punishment in the schools.

Janet Herndon, Democrat: She does not favor keeping corporal punishment in the schools.

Self-esteem programs

Collins: He supports the programs now used.

Herndon: She does not favor a policy outlawing the programs or teaching techniques.

A referendum on elected versus appointed superintendent

Collins: He does not support a referendum. He supports the current method of electing a superintendent.

Herndon: She would support a referendum.

Blueprint 2000 and its ideas

Collins: He supports Blueprint 2000 and believes in community schools.

Herndon: She supports Blueprint 2000 and favors more decisionmaking power at the school level.

Public voucher system

for private schools

Collins: He supports school choice in the county system but opposes a voucher system.

Herndon: She supports public school choice and supports private school vouchers with reservations.

Sex education in schools

Collins: He believes schools should not take over the role of parents.

Herndon: She supports evaluating all elements of the current health and sex education program.

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