Board of Education District 2 incumbent Charlie J. Frasier faces a familiar opponent this summer.
In 2008, Frasier edged out retired principal Carolyn Smith-Carter by 13 votes in a run-off, and now the candidates are vying again.
But the outcome of their race will be determined earlier this year than in recent elections, as nonpartisan board of education seats will be filled during the July 31 primary rather than the general election.
The change comes from a 2010 Georgia Code revision that placed nonpartisan local elections on the primary ballot, according to Angela Palm, director of policy and legislative services for the Georgia School Board Association.
Smith-Carter, a Hinesville native, has never held elected office before, though she taught for 24 years and served in administration for at least 14 years before retiring as principal of Jordye Bacon Elementary School in December 2005.
“When I retired, my teachers were very concerned,” Smith-Carter said. “They hated to see me leave, and I promised my teachers, my parents and students that I would still care about them … and I promised them I would run for school board.”
She said family illnesses set back her 2008 campaign.
She was twice named Bradwell Institute teacher of the year in 1988 and 1989, and she was the county-wide teacher of the year in 1989, she said. She also taught head start and middle school.
Putting children first and governmental transparency are priorities for the candidate, who said she disagrees with a recently adopted board policy that will limit parents’ observation rights in schools.
If elected, Smith-Carter said she would engage parents, teachers and constituents more though mail surveys and focus groups, something she does not think the current board does frequently enough.
“First of all, we need to care. So I hope I can generate enough enthusiasm so that there will be a need. There’s a perception, whether it’s real or imagined, that the school board will do whatever it wants to do in regardless of your input, and I hope to change that image,” she said.
She said her knowledge of board issues is up to date through attending a GSBA conference and registering with the Georgia Government Transparency and Finance Commission.
In addition to being a former educator and administrator, Smith-Carter said she has also experienced policy from the parent perspective as the mother of two sons. One of them is special needs.
“What I bring to the board is the fact that I’ve been a parent, … a teacher, an administrator, my parents were support personnel. So I think my whole training and my inspiration have been from all aspects of what makes the educational wheel run,” Smith-Carter said. “Hopefully I can listen to those voices, and my constituents know already that I hear their voices.”
Frasier responded to the Courier’s requests for an interview with a written statement.
“In these tough times, students, parents, teachers and citizens deserve and need an experienced, knowledgeable and reliable leader such as myself, who will foster responsible budget solutions in support of a high quality public education system,” Frasier wrote.
He cites more than 39 years of experience as a teacher, National Guard retiree and school board member.
Frasier lists providing a safe environment for students and staff, advocating for every child and ensuring that classrooms and students are budget priorities among his accomplishments.
He also listed school system accomplishments in the past year: implementing a balanced scorecard to monitor student progress; realigning the curriculum to a standard-based curriculum in major content areas in grades K-12; and making gains in the graduation rate.
Frasier cites the graduation gains despite an April report that the rate of graduates decreased from 80.9 to 67.4 as a result of state changes in how the rate is calculated. However, rates under the old calculation were higher for 2011 than for 2010.
Frasier also incorrectly cites implementation of iPads in kindergarten through eighth-grade math classes. In January, the district rolled out iPads for middle school science classes under a Department of Defense Educational Activity grant that will also provide math class tablets in the next two schools years — the devices have not yet been widely introduced for math. Technology has been implemented in lower grades in more narrowed pockets.