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What are Pinellas schools doing well? Poorly? School Board candidates weigh in.

One challenger is trying to unseat the incumbent for District 4.

The primary election comes Aug. 18. Some voters have already received their mail-in ballots. The Pinellas County School Board could change course with the results, as three of seven seats are up for grabs.

We asked the candidates to tell us in writing what they think the district is doing right, and where it could do better. Today, we offer you the responses as submitted from the two aspirants for single-member District 4, representing northern Pinellas.

Challenger Chris Hardman is seeking to unseat one-term incumbent Eileen Long. Both are teachers.

This is a winner take all non-partisan primary, where every registered voter can participate. Here’s what the hopefuls had to say. We’ve provided links to each candidate’s website for you to get more information, if available.

Chris Hardman, 67

What are three things the school district does well?

The quality of athletic programs continue to progress. Online curriculum also continues to progress, in conjunction with more laptop computers scheduled to be available for students’ use during the 2020-2021 school year. 

What are three things you would change about the school district, and why?

The compensation schedule for teachers, support staff and athletic coaches should be fair for all years of service. Improvement of working conditions on school campuses should continue to be a high priority. Also, career paths available for all levels of employees should be well defined and accessible for all that are qualified. Further, start times for schools should continue to be adjusted to allow for maximum performance by students.

Eileen Long, 59

What are three things the school district does well?

Closing the achievement gap, strategic plan and school safety.

What are three things you would change about the school district, and why?

1. More transparency and understanding of OPS [Office of Professional Services]: HR [Human Resources] needs to better train administrators and teachers what their job entails. Many think it is a way to get those below them.

2. Training parents on how to help their children with digital learning: we need to have small group instruction for parents that are not familiar with our digital programs so they can help their children at home.

3. More interaction with parents and the school system, we need to get more parents involved and we must find and provide ways for parents to feel they are making a difference in our education system.