School board candidates spoke at this month's Pickens GOP meeting.
Candidates in the two contested school board seats made their first public appearance at the Pickens GOP meeting last week.
Each local candidate was allowed five minutes.
These races will appear on the upcoming May ballot. To vote in the Republican race voters must select a Republican ballot.
Bell is a Pickens native and PHS and Pickens Tech school graduate. He currently works as an auto collision repair instructor at Chattahoochee Technical College and helps develop state standards for collision repair through his work on the Technical College System of Georgia Auto Repair Consortium.
Bell said he was motivated to run for the school board because his own children are now entering the system. Bell said he is concerned with protecting students and teachers, and expressed great interest in supporting technical education for students.
‘Normally we don’t consider our K-12 as a system that presents technical education yet I’m a product of that,” Bell said, who has worked for Bill Elliot racing. “My parents could not have afforded for me to go to a four-year college.”
Bell said he wants to encourage programs like Move on When Ready, which allows qualifying students to enter into dual enrollment in technical colleges or universities.
“By the time they graduate high school, look how far along these students are,” he said. “How important is that?”
Bell said he suspects education leaders are not promoting programs like Move on When Ready to retain funding for those students.
“Are we making financial decisions at the cost of students getting technically educated, because not everyone is going to go to a four-year college,” he said.
Lowe focused on accomplishments during her last four years as a school board member, highlighting what she said was the board’s fiscal responsibility and retention of a full 180-day calendar in the face of state budget cuts and increased healthcare costs.
Lowe said she and the board have facilitated better communication with board members and are now attending student council meetings, noting that next year the board will be replacing PowerSchool with InfiniteCampus to allow better communication between parents and students.
She also pointed out the board’s full implementation of EBoard for transparency and the SPLOST-funded rehaul of infrastructure for technology.
Lowe said during her term she has made decisions with students at the forefront, and has remained accessible, fiscally responsible, and plans to continue the board’s successes in a new term.
Lewis has been involved in education for 22 years as counselor and teacher.
Lewis said she and her husband moved to the county in 1999 and she “fell in love with the school system.”
She currently works as a counselor at the Mountain Education Charter High School.
Lewis called herself a “professional listener” and said she will focus on stakeholder concerns about the school system.
When asked, Lewis said she strongly supports charter schools but says population of Pickens may limit possibilities here.
Fincher said his desire to help children has grown during his term as school board member.
“I want to see the very best for this county,” Fincher said. “I look at this school system as a huge factory, and we are producing a product when they are going out that door as a senior and we want that product to be the very best.”
Fincher also said he would like to see an increasing use of technology over the years to better prepare students for college.
When asked, Fincher said he is supportive of charter schools, but said in Pickens it would break the school system because of the loss of funding for those students.