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BoE Post 4 GOP frontrunner Basham lays out vision

Voters in the May 20 primary for the District 4 Fayette County Board of Education seat put Diane Basham in first place followed by John Kimbell in second place. The Citizen asked the two candidates to provide their thoughts on the issues they believe are pertinent in the July runoff election and how they would run their campaign.

Basham responded but Kimbell said he has withdrawn from the race. If determined to be official, the runoff will feature Basham and third place vote-getter Jane Owens.

While Basham responded by submitting her thoughts on the issues, Kimbell said he has withdrawn from the race due to a job-related matter.

Kimbell on Tuesday said, “I am withdrawing from the Board of Education District 4 race. I had, due to a job requirement, briefly been an Alabama resident. My residence had changed back to Georgia before the time of qualifying to run. I was determined to be eligible. After the primary I was informed of the issue” that he was not eligible.

Meantime, Fayette County elections supervisor Tom Sawyer on Tuesday said he had not received official word about Kimbell’s status in the runoff. If Kimbell is withdrawn, Sawyer said, per state law the runoff will include the top two remaining vote-getters: Basham and Owens.

Basham provided her responses which are included below. If determined to be a runoff candidate, Owens will be asked to provide her responses which will be included in next Wednesday’s edition.

Basham in her comments said the Fayette school system became the best in the state. Yet today, the school system must focus on an unwavering commitment to student achievement while requiring high expectations and demanding excellence.

“Our school system became the best in Georgia due to the hard work and cooperation of parents, teachers, students and the entire community. The quality and reputation of our schools has a direct economic impact on Fayette County,”Basham said. “Now, the greatest issue facing Fayette County schools is our unwavering commitment to improving student achievement. We must continue to set high expectations and demand excellence from our students so our school system continues to be the engine that helps our county thrive and grow. As a member of the school board, my focus to accomplish this goal will be deliberate and determined.”

In addressing the school board’s fiscal responsibility, Basham said she believes in being a good steward of tax dollars while returning available funds to the classroom to reduce class sizes and enhance learning opportunities.

“Since all decisions the board faces must be made in a fiscally-responsible way, I intend to be a good steward of the taxpayers’ dollars. All programs initiated must have sufficient funding for both implementation and future maintenance,” said Basham. “Our present $17 million reserve fund must be protected to provide financial security in the next economic downturn. However, remaining revenues must be directed to the classroom to minimize the negative impact the Great Recession had on our schools. Class sizes must be reduced to allow teachers to have the time to address the needs of each student. Learning opportunities for all students must be maximized.”

Citing employees as the school system’s greatest resource, Basham said she would continue the school board’s stance to reinstate prior austerity cuts.

“Our experienced and highly trained teachers and employees are our greatest resource. We must be relentless in retaining and recruiting quality personnel,” Basham said. ”As a school system, we have asked employees to sacrifice a great deal to educate our children. I pledge to continue what the present board is now doing to reinstate some of the previous austerity cuts and replace uncertainty with confidence.”

Whether a student’s career will include college, technical training or the military, the school system should provide programs which will help students attain the skills they will need, Basham said. 

“Finally, we have an obligation to each student who graduates from our schools to be prepared to enter the workplace of the 21st century and be life-long learners,” said Basham. “Many of the careers our students will pursue will not require a college degree, but rather technical school training. Others will enter the military. We must think creatively to provide programs that allow equal opportunities for our graduates to have the skills necessary for them to be successful, productive citizens.”

Basham also explained that she will run her campaign in the same manner she did as she prepared for the May 20 primary.

“I intend to conduct this phase of the campaign in the same manner I prepared for the May 20 primary,” Basham said. “I will continue attending civic and social functions, knocking on doors in my district and speaking with Fayette County residents concerned about the future of our school system. I will endeavor to reach as many voters as possible. I will continue to emphasize my 27 years experience as an educator in Fayette County schools. I believe that classroom experience, including 25 years as a economics teacher, makes me the most qualified to work for you as a member of the Fayette County Board of Education.”


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