Hall County Board of Education Post 3
Occupation: Retired teacher, military veteran
Political Experience: Ran for Hall County Board of Commission, 2010, and Georgia House, 2011
Education: Doctorate in workforce education, master’s in foundations of education, master’s in applied mathematics and computer science, master’s in management
Family information: Wife Betty of 42 years; two daughters Shelli Godfrey and Kristin Stevens
District History: Eleven years in district while teaching mathematics and computers at Lanier Tech. Secretary and Board of Directors, BPHOA. Member of American Legion Post 328 Flowery Branch, Marine Corps League 665, DAV, and Military Officers Association of America, Georgia Mountain Chapter.
Occupation: Service technician for Duplicating Products, since November 1977
Political Experience: 3 terms on Hall County School Board, Post 3
Education: Graduate of Johnson High, Class of ‘78
Family information: Wife Lisa Herrington of 30 years; Daughter and son-in-law: Heather and Kurtis Sturm; Son and daughter-in-law: Michael and Tabitha Herrington
District history: Lifetime resident; PTO involvement at McEver Elementary; Booster Club, vice president, then president at McEver Elementary; one of the founders of the West Hall Jr. Spartans sports program; elected to Hall County School Board, first term starting January 2000
The two men running for post 3 on the Hall County Schools Board of Education say the biggest issues for the board are overcoming a shrinking budget and a rising student body.
Craig Herrington, who has been on the board for 12 years, faces Paul Godfrey, a retired teacher and military veteran who taught in the Technical College System of Georgia for 15 years, in the July 31 primary. Both are Republicans and would face no opposition in November.
“(The budget’s) continuing to be a challenge,” Herrington said, noting that more money is being required locally as less comes from the state.
Herrington said a part of what he and the school board are doing is trying to find alternate ways to educate the some 26,000 students in the county, including online courses.
“There are a number of ways we’re looking,” he said. “Online courses will help some. Students can take it online and that frees up a seat in the classroom.”
Godfrey said funding is “always going to be an issue” and raising property taxes may not be the best way to counter a shrinking budget.
“I’m a believer that you don’t tax people for anything unless it’s absolutely necessary and if you’re going to tax, the tax should be as fair as possible,” Godfrey said. “Unfortunately, the situation that we’re stuck with right now, unless somebody can change it, is the school system taxation is property tax, and property tax is one of the least fair taxes there is.”
Herrington said the system uses resources from local colleges, including summer programs and internships. The programs those schools run save the system money.
Godfrey said, if elected, he’d want to look into support areas and administrative positions to see if there is any excess.
“Every support area is subject to be looked at,” said Godfrey. “Is it subject to be cut? No, but it’s subject to be looked at. You don’t know until you look.
“If we have administrative positions that we really don’t need or that we can outsource or that we could combine with others doing that same thing, then we’d have to look at it. Does that mean there’s some that I know that need to be gotten rid of? Absolutely not, but I’d like to look at it and make sure.”
This year, the system approved a $194 million budget, about $3.3 million less than last year. It has not set a millage rate yet but anticipates a roll-up, which is not considered a tax increase because it is revenue neutral.
But as the budget remains at the forefront of public education, both candidates say the system is doing something right.
“The most important thing that’s working within the system, in my judgment, is the teachers,” said Godfrey.
“Virtually every one of them that I’ve met are really dedicated and care about the students.”
Herrington noted the system, since he’s been on the board, has worked hard to stay ahead of the curve with new ways of providing an education.
“Especially in the past 12 years, we have continued to try and change what education looks like,” he said.
He said schools of choice, permanent classrooms and online classes have been on top of the priority list for the system.
And as for what the system could do better?
“I’d like to reserve judgment on that until I have a firm grasp of what’s going on,” said Godfrey. “Right now I’m an outsider. ... I know what is supposed to happen and how it’s supposed to happen.”
Herrington said the system does have some challenges and is working to address them.
“We are still, like most systems, trying to help those who are in need of extra assistance,” he said. “It’s a challenge to do that. We’ve got such a wide variety in student population with 26,000 students. We have those that are in the higher-income level to those that are in the poverty level. Unfortunately, the poverty-level numbers seem to be growing nowadays. It’s a challenge to give the assistance to the ones that need the extra help ... while challenging the ones that are advancing in the classrooms — that’s always been a challenge.”
Summer programs and system-funded pre-K is important to get those disadvantaged students reading early, said Herrington.
And both candidates think their experience in both education and the private sector helps give them a better perspective on how education is used outside the school walls.
“We have an opportunity to continue progress in the Hall County school system and to make the Hall County school system an example, not just for the state of Georgia, but for the United States,” said Godfrey. “I believe I have a large toolkit of resources to bring to the job that will be of value.”
Herrington said, “With me working within in the community and so many offices, I do get to see where their needs change to. Translating those into what education needs to change to support that is an ongoing challenge.
“Hopefully that allows me to translate that into decisions we make as a board that will benefit the students as well as the community.”