Meet the candidates in this Q&A
Incumbent Mark Dayton and challenger Bonnie Yarnell are seeking the District 5 seat on the Gadsden Town School Board in the August 23 Gadsden Municipal Election.
Dayton is a businessman, owns trucking and property companies, and is a longtime tennis and golf coach in the area.
Yarnell is a former Macy’s Corporation executive and spent six years working in the Etowah County Revenue Office.
Both candidates were asked to outline their short and long term goals if elected. Here are their responses (subject to minor edits):
Short term goals
Continue to work to fill our overall budget shortfalls from the funds that have been taken from us at the municipal, state and federal levels over the past three years. (We currently have a plan in place to help offset up to an additional $1.5 million over one year towards the budget.)
Get another round of state and federally funded raises for our teachers. (Making us more competitive in hiring and keeping the best teachers against school systems beyond the state line within 45 minutes of us.)
Make sure we’re spending every COVID relief funding dollar we’ve received from federal and state funds. Make sure we don’t give up or give anything back. This will ensure we have the best equipment and supplies for our schools and students.
Make sure we get more federal and state funding for the safety and security of our schools and our children. (It’s a must, especially after recent events.)
What to expect:Expect Gadsden election to bring leadership changes with some incumbents not running
Long term goals
I created an ACT/SAT prep initiative that I am currently working on with many board members from other school systems for our Montgomery politicians to pass and fund. We need state and federal funds to pay teachers who teach ACT/SAT prep classes starting in grade seven for our students. The simple facts are different from the four states around us, we don’t have a lottery to pay for kids to go to trade schools and colleges. And after COVID, many scholarships and grants disappeared because of funding. In addition, many families are struggling financially more than ever. Our best opportunity for students and their families to pay for college or trade school is to get the entrance scores for free these days. This is something we need to have funding for so that our children can have the best job and future opportunities.
Our students and our community deserve new schools. This city has only managed to build one new, modern, safe school in the last 45+ years, which is sad compared to many other school systems in this state. We are now in the planning stages of a new college. We know where we want it built and how we want it to look (modern and super safe). So the goal now is to get our own financial credit score for our school system and then the funding and the bonds to pay it. Then it will be a new primary school.
Short term goals
Support the board’s efforts to ensure the safety of our students, teachers and all staff as a top priority.
Be an effective member of the team by offering ideas and suggestions to improve the progress of the school.
Provide transparency to parents with an open line of communication throughout my decision-making process.
Long term goals
I am in favor of building new schools and replacing older ones first. This would ensure that every student has a top-notch facility regardless of district.
I would also lean on the dual enrollment program at Gadsden State which is a wonderful opportunity for students.
Promoting all of the excellent programs that schools in the City of Gadsden already offer, ensuring that parents and students use them and know how to navigate and benefit from them.
Provide parents and students with clear and concise information that will enable students to reach their full potential.
Continue to encourage educators in the development of pilot programs such as our outstanding Beautiful Rainbow Cafe.
Of course to continue to offer the best possible education to our children and young adults.