Blount County School Board, District 6

Brad Long

Brad Long

Patricia Bell

Patricia Bell

Brad Long

Office seeking: Blount County School Board, District 6

Family: Single

Age: 33

Education: Graduated from William Blount High School in 1994.

Occupation: General manager for bus contractor W.C. Huffman

Hometown: Maryville

How long in Blount County: Lived in Blount County his entire life.

Why are you running?

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me to run. I ran in ’04, but we still have a lot of big issues like No Child Left Behind that have put pressure on our school system. By 2010 or 2012 we have to have a 95 percent graduation rate. That’s a tough issue.

“We’ve solved some of our overcrowding problem with the new elementary and middle school at Union Grove but we still have issues to work on with overcrowding. I’d like to see the priorities of the budget change. Whenever we’re putting the budget together we should fulfill the needs in the classroom before we fulfill other things. We should make sure the teachers have what they need and kids have what they need.

“We’ve had a real tough budget year this year and I think we need to be able to work with the county commission and everybody have a trust between the two parties. Right now the commission doesn’t always trust the school board to do what they say they’re going to do. We need to build the trust between the funding body and managing body.

“There are issues with text books. We’re almost caught up on textbook allocation. Mr. Hord has done a good job with that; I think we’re only behind in one or two books now. We’ve made progress but I still think there are things we could do to continue to improve the school system and meet the standards of No Child Left Behind.

“Sometimes I think we spend a lot of time teaching kids how to take tests and not teaching them the basics of life like balancing a checkbook and how to communication with people as adults. I think that is a big thing we need to teach in high school, communication skills. We have to have them prepared to go into the workforce or college.

“I’m not a person who believes everything a test tells me. Just because kids are scoring high on tests I’m not convinced they’re ready to go to the workforce or college.”

What’s the biggest challenge facing a school board member?

“Building relations with commissioners and persuading others to see your point of view.”

What’s one thing a board member can do to make a difference?

“All you can do is try to persuade other members to vote on your side to see your point of view. When it comes down to a vote, you can’t make a difference if you don’t have people on your side. You’ve got to be able to persuade others.”

In about 25 words, why should someone vote for you?

“I try to keep in perspective what is important for the children and what is important for the taxpayers. Those things don’t always go hand in hand. I’m going to ask what is in the best interests of the children of Blount County when I vote on something. That’s how you base your decisions.”

Patricia Bell

Office seeking: Blount County School Board, District 6

Family: Husband, Virgil and they have five children: Robert Cross, 27, Lisa Cross, 23, Sarah Coe, 21, Christina Bell, 14 and Nathan Bell is 8. two grandchildren: Melissa and Ethan Coe.

Age: 48

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science Business from Maryville College.

Occupation: Technical writer for TBC Solutions in Clinton.

Hometown: Born in Manassas, Vir. Her mother traces roots back five generations in East Tennessee to Col. Daniel Kennedy was the first clerk of Greene County and her great-grandmother bought property in Blount County three generations ago.

How long in Blount County: She has lived in Blount County since 1989.

Why are you running?

“I felt that people have an obligation to give back and I’m at a time in life when I can, my three older children are grown and there are less baby sitting needs to be done. I give back by being active in PTO but I just felt serving on school board would be a further help. A lot of people have encouraged me to run.”

What’s the biggest challenge facing a school board member?

“We’ve got to do something to get the overcrowding situation solved. It’s going to take communication between the school board and the commission. Those two bodies don’t work well together always. I’ve for years established connections with various members of the commission.

“We’ve not been funded very well. We’re 16th in per capita income but the amount we spend per pupil is not even the state average, which is disappointing. Some don’t think enough about kids and education to contribute to education. I feel if we work on education and build schools and work on infrastructure and getting these kids educated we won’t have to build so many jails. If we catch them on the front end we won’t have to catch them on back end.”

What’s one thing a board member can do to make a difference?

“Make good relationships with the commission. Both are essential to getting anything done. You can’t do anything without funding and if you have nobody to direct funds things don’t go well. I’ve attended lots of commission meetings and school board meetings. I think I could work collaboratively with both the board and the commission.”

In about 25 words, why should someone vote for you?

“I’ve been very involved and know a lot about what’s going on in the schools themselves. I’ve had people getting ready to run for commission call me because several know I’m a good source of information.”

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