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Scott, Kelly face off on Zoom in BoE District 2 candidate’s forum with UMA

Liberty County Board of Education District 2 candidates Marcus Scott IV and Dr. Joe Kelly presented their platform during a Zoom meeting held Monday night hosted by Pastor Richard D. Hayes of the United Ministerial Alliance.

Both men said the children was their top priority and the main reason for running for the open seat.

Scott said he would support the hiring of a system-wide athletic director.

“I try not to make promises but everything I said I would do we as a board were able to accomplish,” Scott said about his previous term on the board. “I feel like we need to be better focused on the athletic department. At the middle school level there are certain sports we don’t have, so when they get to high school they are lagging behind.”

Scott said academics was a top priority as well and reminded those in the meeting that he founded Scott’s All-Stars, a youth basketball program that emphasized academics, high graduation rates and continued post-secondary education.

Kelly said adding a system AD was not a needed expense. He said each high school has and AD and middle and high school sports teams have a coaching staff that can work and collaborate together to make things work.

Collaboration was the main topic of Kelly’s platform. He said no one person can do things alone and the board should collaborate with parents, churches, businesses and all the stakeholders in developing plans, programs, and ideas for the sake of the students’ proper development.

Kelly also advocated for early intervention for students who are falling behind in reading. He thinks educators should begin remediating those students as soon as possible, noting that trying to solve these learning difficulties when students enter middle school is much too late.

Scott agreed that early intervention should be the focus in literacy and in math. He said, if elected, he would recommend that the superintendent bring in more mentoring, leadership, and STEM programs.

“I’m all about helping and giving back to our youth,” Scott said. “I am a child advocate. I believe in putting the children first. I want to be that mentor.”

Scott went on to say that helping youth is his calling in life. He said he has the unique talents that can help the LCSS get to where it needs to be and the previous experience on the board to already be familiar with procedures.

Scott said he would also like to see a pay increase for the LCSS staff. He noted that when he previously served the board increased student achievement, implemented a valedictorian and salutatorian selection process now used by both high schools and implemented bi-monthly pay for the staff.

Kelly said he spent 51 years in the education system before retiring recently and has seen everything from segregated classrooms to the emergence of technology and multimedia educational programs. Kelly said he was certified to be a superintendent but decided to keep his role and an educator and coach because he enjoyed working directly with the children.

Kelly said he would like to put together a comprehensive high school format integrating educational and vocational training simultaneously. 

“Give the students options,” he said.

Kelly said there needs to be more evaluations and aptitude testing done for students in the sixth and ninth graders. Sixth graders should be evaluated to see if they are ready, educationally, and emotionally for entering the remainder of middle school. He said the same should be done as ninth graders enter high school.

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