Bradley County school board candidates call for putting students before politics

Bradley County school board candidates call for putting students before politics

May 21st, 2018 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The District 4 candidates for the Bradley County Board of Education say their concerns come down to money and putting students before politics.

Dianna Calfee, who unseated Troy Weathers four years ago, faces him again in the Aug. 2 general election. Both discussed why they want to serve another term in recent interviews.

Dianna Calfee

Dianna Calfee

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

"Finding new sources of revenue without raising taxes is a challenge," Calfee said, calling for "open and honest discussion" and "thinking outside the box" to succeed.

She said it will take committees of stakeholders — school board members, teachers and county commissioners — to establish goals and seek opportunities for new dollars.

Calfee cited savings generated by the school district through a comprehensive energy efficiency program as one example of the initiatives she has supported over the last four years.

"We've done a poor job with the funds we have," Weathers said. "I'm certainly not going to waste money."

He has criticized Calfee's role in the February 2015 contract buyout of then-superintendent Johnny McDaniel, an action he has described as bad financial management.

Troy Weathers

Troy Weathers

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.

Weathers also questioned the motives driving his opponent and four other board members — three of them lost re-election bids in 2016 — on the McDaniel matter and other decisions.

"They ruled," Weathers said. "They did whatever they wanted to do. Personal agendas need to stay at home."

Personal bias played no role in her support of the McDaniel buyout or other board decisions she has made, Calfee said. She called the buyout "one of the hardest decisions" she has made while serving on the board.

"I feel like our children deserve to have their interests put over politics," she said. "Keep politics out of it."

Weathers, who served 16 years as the District 4 school board representative before his loss to Calfee, cited a long-standing passion to serve the county's students.

"I love the kids of Bradley County," he said. "I want to do what's right for the kids."

For him, it's never been about winning when it comes to important decisions coming before the board, Weathers said, adding he welcomes debate because it brings the knowledge to do what is best for the schools.

Calfee said she sees a second term on the school board as an opportunity to continue to make a difference.

"I'm so passionate about this, I don't want to give it up," she said. "It fuels a fire in me."

Contact Paul Leach at paul.leach.press@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @pleach_3.


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