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School board candidates speak at South Hall Republican Club
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Hall plans to add day back into calendar

Hall County School District students may want to cancel their Presidents Day plans: Chances are they’ll be heading back into the classroom.

The district announced Monday it plans to add Feb. 17 as an instructional day back into the calendar “to replace one that was recently lost during the weather-related closures.”

Hall schools were released early Jan. 28 as winter weather moved in, and remained closed through the remainder of the week due to icy road conditions. While schools were set to open again Friday, a broken water main led to the reversal of that decision.

Schools were also closed Jan. 7 when arctic air moved into the region, causing a winter weather advisory.

The board of education will consider the extra day at the Feb. 10 work session; Feb. 17 was originally planned only as a teacher work day.

Parents with individual questions or concerns should contact their school principal.

From staff reports

FLOWERY BRANCH — Incumbents and challengers in the Hall County Board of Education’s South Hall and at-large races briefly touted themselves for election during a Monday night meeting of the South Hall Republican Club.

Paul Godfrey, who is vying for the at-large seat held by Bill Thompson, told the group, meeting at the Spout Springs Library, that he had three main interests: curriculum, teaching and strategic planning.

He said he has five college degrees, including a doctorate, and 17 years’ experience teaching science, technology and management. Plus, he served in the Air Force for 23 years.

“That’s what I bring to the table,” he said.

Godfrey said he opposes Common Core, education standards for math and language arts that have been adopted by 45 states, including Georgia.

“It’s a dumbing-down curricula ... and I’m going to do what I can to prevent that from happening,” he said.

Thompson told the group that at the end of his term on Dec. 31, he will have spent 36 years in the Hall school system, including his term on the school board.

“I’ve enjoyed every minute of being on the board and my 32« years in the schools, and I feel like (I) have some things to bring to the board — just a different perspective,” he said.

“I’m very proud of what we have accomplished the last three years and will hopefully continue to do the next year. We work very hard to do what’s right.

“Are we always right?” Thompson said. “No ... but we try to do what’s best.”

Businessman Mark Pettitt, seeking the South Hall seat occupied by Brian Sloan, said he is a lifetime Hall resident who “has found ways to dedicate my life in service to others.”

“After eight years of sitting on the bench, I feel like it’s time to get up and get involved and offer all my talents and resources and knowledge in helping the kids of Hall County.”

He said he would focus on “accountability and transparency to the board and shed a little light on our system’s activities.”

“I believe the community should be involved,” Pettitt said. “When all of Hall County is allowed a seat at the table, great things can happen.”

Retired Hall educator Traci Lawson McBride, also seeking Sloan’s seat, said she has remained a teacher, including tutoring students.

“I really believe, as an educator, I can make a difference ... with the direction of our Hall County schools,” she said.

McBride said she can bring a “female touch” to what is now an all-male board.

“We tend to look at things a little differently,” she said. “There are some things I may process a little differently than our male counterparts.”

Also, she said, Common Core “disturbs me.”

“I had a chance to read it and ... when you do the research, I feel like we don’t have any business in it.”

Sloan, who is completing a second four-year term on the board, recalled 2007 as being “not so bad,” but tough times coming later with the economic downturn.

He said he believed he has accomplished what he set out to do in his first election.

“Looking ahead, the federal government wants to educate your children, and I do not want (that),” Sloan said.

“There’s so many things we can’t do as a board, but we’re already starting to have discussions on what we can do to (have an) impact.”

In the past few years, “we have made decisions to try to get outside of that box, as (Superintendent Will) Schofield is known for.”