With the Montgomery Public School system under a state intervention right now, there’s a lot of interest in who’s on the board.
There are five seats up for grabs this year and we’re less than a week away from the primary election. When it comes to district five there are six people running for the seat, two Republicans and four Democrats.
Here’s a look at who’s running and a little bit about each candidate:
Republican candidates for MPS Board District 5:
Jannah Bailey – This is the first time Bailey has run for public office. She has been the executive director with the non-profit Child Protech for the last 17 years. She says a group approached her about running and it didn’t take long to make the decision.
“We’ve got to look at the leadership and it begins with the board of directors. We need five new people, whether it’s me or someone else. We need a change in direction because what we’ve been doing, hasn’t been working.”
Bailey says she’s used to working with a variety of different agencies at the same time.
“When we’re considering what to do with a child, it’s about bringing it all to the table, listening to everyone’s input, and then making a decision that’s best for the child. I have no doubt that my experience doing that with Child Protect will carry over to the MPS board.”
Bailey would also see more options when it comes to vocational and technical programs at the middle school and high school level for kids who will leave school and go right into the workforce.
Melissa Snowden – Snowden's held the seat in district five since 2006. Even with all the financial issues and the state intervention, Snowden says she’s proud of her work and has often gone against the group when she disagrees. She says she has no problem holding the superintendent and chief financial officer accountable if they’re not doing the job.
“I think it’s really important for the person who sits in district five knows education law, policy, finance, and can ask the right questions. You need to know where we’ve been and where we need to be.”
So why is Snowden running again?
“When I go to the school and see the children it just lights a fire in me. Just to see the potential we have to be even better.”
Snowden would like to see Montgomery establish, an alternative school for students who are a constant disruption in class in traditional schools.
Democrat candidates for MPS Board District 5:
Dianelle Gross – Gross spent 18 years in the Air Force, retired, then recently got a job in healthcare but when this opportunity came up she didn’t think twice.
“First and foremost I’m the mother of kids in the Montgomery Public School system. I’m a very concerned mother. I will go out and do whatever it takes to help these kids be successful.”
Gross thinks communication is the key to improvement.
“I think people just need to take some time and listen. I was at a school board meeting a few weeks ago. A lot of staff and employees there had some real concerns about their lives. So we really need to listen to the people who are directly affected.”
Rhonda Oats – Oats has spent 27 years in education, 12 of those years in the Montgomery Public School system.
“I’ve been there before with the students and the teachers. I want to be a servant again to see what I can do to be a balanced voice for the Montgomery Public School system.”
Oats' biggest concern is making sure the students are always put first.
“I’ve been there with the students in the hallways, the teachers in the hallways. I’ve gotten up at 6:20 in the morning where some of the students came to Title One schools needing breakfast. I cared for them then, and guess what, I still care.”
Carey Owens – Owens is also running for office for the first time. He says his kids went to public school when they were in elementary school but felt he needed to make a change when they reached middle school. He says all families should have choices and wants the Montgomery school system to be a good choice again.
“I’m frustrated. I want to be the voice for all the frustrated parents out there. The climate of MPS, the climate of the board, it affects the future of our city.”
Owens has worked for 25 years in corporate America and believes he has developed skills to be perfect in this position.
“It’s going to take teamwork and team building skills among all of us to work together and make the board more effective.”
Devona Sims – Sims had one child go through the Montgomery school system. She has a background in elementary and post-secondary education.
“We do need new leadership, that new leader would be me. We need to take a look at how we do things and what we are doing. We need to look at student achievement overall.”
says other parents encouraged her to run for this position and she has a passion for working with children.
“I believe in improving the Montgomery Public School system. I believe there are great things happening things we can do to get better. With new leadership, I think we are moving in the right direction.”
The primary election is scheduled for Tuesday.
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