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Dist. 4 board member taking on former superintendent
Long County election preview
Janet Watford new
Challenger Janet Watford - photo by Photo provided.

Today’s Long County election story focuses on the District 4 board of education race between incumbent Linda DeLoach and challenger Janet Watford.

Each candidate was given the same questions to respond to.

Linda DeLoach

1. Can you provide a brief biography? I’ve been married 43 years to Clifton DeLoach. I have three children, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. I have been a board member for 16 years.

2. What makes you qualified for the board of education?

My biggest qualification is having 16 years of service as a member of the board. It takes some time to grasp how to work with all of the facets of the education system: the administrators, the teachers, the parents, the students.

You can’t just hop right in and make things work the way you always want them to work. It takes being able to understand all of the sides, and then using your experience to make the best call for everyone involved.

3. What would some of the first actions you’d take as a board member, or would you make any changes? Also, would you attempt to make any major changes later?

One of our immediate priorities will be oversight on the construction of our new high school.

I do not feel that there are many major changes that we need to make. Our school system has become the envy of most of the counties in this area.

A few years ago, I think in 2009, our high school was ranked by U.S. News as one of the best high schools in the country. So I’m proud of the schools, the teachers, parapros, custodians, all of the other workers and especially the children.

4. What comment do you have on taxes?

My comment on taxes is the same as any other taxpayer: They are too high. The state and the federal government are continuously cutting our funding but still mandating us to do more.

We do our best to keep a lean budget, but a lot of times we have no choice on what we have to spend our money on. But I can honestly say I will continue to try to keep our millage rate as low as possible.

5. How do you see the school system changing with population growth?

The board continues to work with other local agencies as well as the state and the federal government to stay abreast of the decisions that may impact our growth, so that we can have quality facilities and a quality staff to educate our children. I believe that our preparing for the additional troops who were supposed to be coming to our area is no better example of this. We were told that more students were coming, and we began to buy temporary module classrooms until we could do better.

Even though the brigade cancelled, we still are growing, as we can see by our population increasing by about 40 percent with the Census, so we are building a new high school.

We also will be remodeling much of the current high school and Walker Middle School to prepare for more growth.

6. Anything else to say?

I would like to say that I take the responsibilities of being a member of the board of education seriously.

If re-elected, I pledge to vote for what is in the best interest of the children, community and taxpayers. I will ensure that our children are educated in a healthy, safe learning environment by quality professionals. I will be a good steward of the taxpayers’ money.

I will do everything I can to encourage hiring local people and local contractors from our city and county.

And finally I will always be available to answer any question of concern regarding our school system.

Janet Watford

1. Can you provide a brief biography?

I was born and raised in Long County, graduating from Ludowici High School in 1965.

I graduated from Coastal Georgia College in 1967 and Georgia Southern College (now University) in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in education with a major in mathematics.

2. What makes you qualified for the board of education?

I began teaching in 1969 in Long County and earned my master’s in education and my education specialist degree from Georgia Southern University.

I also earned my certifications in mathematics, counselor education, and administration/leadership.

I was the first female coach at Long County High School for the girls’ basketball team, and was the last elected and the first appointed superintendent for the Long County School System.

In 1997, I retired from teaching in Long County and have been a part-time math instructor at Savannah Technical College.

I believe my 28 years of tenure in the Long County School System, serving in all of the capacities that I did, qualify me to serve as a member of the board of education.

I can identify with the needs of the students, faculty, staff and taxpayers.

3. What would some of the first actions you’d take as a board member, or would you make any changes? Also, would you attempt to make any major changes later?

If elected, I plan to work with all members and employees of the board of education and seek ways to cost-effectively improve our education system.

Major changes cannot be implemented without approval of the board of education.

I have many ideas to share with the public and other board members at the appropriate time.

4. What comment do you have on taxes?

Our school taxes have almost doubled in the last eight years. We are a poor county, and our taxpayers have to provide the revenue.

We are not able to provide our senior citizens the privilege of free school taxes that many surrounding counties offer because we do not have an industrial tax base for revenue.

However, there are many ways to save. Many plans could be implemented to carefully monitor the maintenance and operation of the school system without jeopardizing the quality of the instructional program.

Ask for employee input in these areas and act upon their suggestions and recommendations, if feasible and cost effective.

Our allotments from the state may indicate that we earn a certain number of employees in different areas of our school system, but many times these are not fully funded. This is also true for textbooks, transportation, media technology, etc.

My plans are to review everything and to be open to suggestions before recommendations are made.

5. How do you see the school system changing with population growth?

During my tenure as superintendent from 1992-97, our school system grew more than 100 percent, and we were able to cost-effectively accommodate that growth.

It was not an easy job, but we were successful.

6. Anything else to say?

It would be an honor to serve.

My promise would be to serve with integrity, in a fair, efficient and cost-effective manner representing all citizens of Long County.

On Sunday: A preview of the District 2 board of education race.

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