No free ride for 3 school board posts

Tue, 05/06/2008 - 4:34pm
By: Ben Nelms

Incumbents Smith, Key and Smola draw 4 challengers for July 15

The Fayette County Board of Education had no shortage of candidates to qualify for the seats in Post 1, 2 and 3 to be decided later this year. A total of four challengers will face incumbents Janet Smola, Terri Smith and Marion Key.

The Post 1 challenger for the seat held by Janet Smola is 45-year-old management consultant David Houston. A 16-year resident living in Peachtree City, Houston has three children in Fayette public schools.

Houston is a graduate of West Point with six years of Army service and is a Desert Storm veteran. He holds an MBA from Emory University.

Houston said he is a believer in empowering teachers and educating students and is passionate about having only Fayette County students attending the county’s schools.

“I feel like I can add value to the board that it doesn’t presently have in the areas of finances, analytical systems, human resources and strategic planning,” Houston said.

Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, 39, will run for Post 2 against board Chair Terri Smith. Bacallao is a professor who trains teachers at Tift College of Education at Mercer University. Her family has lived in the county for four years and she has four children currently enrolled in the Fayette County school system.

The Fayetteville resident said she wants the focus of public schools to be on teaching, learning, instruction and curriculum instead of focusing on issues such as redistricting.

Bacallao said she travels to schools across America, seeing what works and what does not, noting that she can bring that expertise to Fayette County schools.

“I really think Fayette County has a great foundation of success,” Bacallao said. “I want to build on that for national recognition. It’s one thing to be number one in Georgia. We can be number one in the nation.”

The Post 3 race will have Marion Key facing two Peachtree City challengers, Carol Jensen-Linton and Mark Aasen.

Jensen-Linton, 59, has lived in Fayette County for nearly 13 years and has a son that graduated from public school in 2001.

A sales coordinator in the health and wellness field and area manager with the New Neighbors League, she holds an MSW from Tulane University along with a B.S. in psychology and sociology. Last year her family hosted an exchange student from Norway.

“I am extremely involved with the school system. We have a good system, but it can be better,” Jensen-Linton said. “I’ve always been interested (in the school board) and now I have time to run. I want to serve the community and the school system.”

Jensen-Linton has served as a PTO president, has contributed to numerous school fund-raising activities, produced PTO newsletters and participated in booster functions.

Attempts to contact Post 3 challenger Mark Aasen by deadline were unsuccessful.

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Submitted by oldbeachbear on Wed, 05/07/2008 - 6:42am.

FINALLY!!!!! Someone steps up and runs for post 1. All these years, we in the Northern part of the county have said ..."if only" it has happened. It is too late to help many of our children here, but the ones to come after ours, will have someone respectable and compassionate looking out for them. It has been way too long. Thank you so much Mr Houston for caring enough to run. We need you so bad.

Submitted by g8trgrl on Wed, 05/07/2008 - 12:43pm.

I also am glad to see some new people stepping up for the BoE. Time for a change!! Sounds like 3 of the candidates have some excellent qualifications. A West Point grad and PHD are wonderful qualifications. I especially love the fact that Dave Houston has 3 kids in the public school system & has lived here 16 years! He has lots of experience with the public school system in Fayette. If any candidates have had their kids in private for many schools, they don't need to run for this job. It is time to move some of the BoE lifers off the board!!

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