Working with businesses to help train students, reducing the school drop-out rates and finding ways to reward quality teachers are among the reasons Victor Morales is running for District Post 2 on the Muscogee County School Board.
“We need to change out a lot of things we do on school board,” Morales told more than a dozen supporters Tuesday at the North Columbus Branch Library.
Morales, 55, is among the four candidates vying for the seat held by 28-year incumbent John Wells, 74. The other two hopefuls in the May 20 vote are IRS agent John F. Thomas, 59, and 55-year-old John”Bart” Steed, owner of Kar-Tunes Car Stereo.
Morales, the training and development coordinator at Pratt & Whitney, said he is aware of business needs as an advisory member on boards at Columbus Technical College, the Aviation Institute of Maintenance and other area colleges.
“One of the things we find in these boards is businesses complaining of getting qualified students out of high school to go to work,” Morales said. “At Pratt & Whitney, we set up a program with high school students that has won awards for the state. If we get other businesses to do the same type programs, it will give our students and children a path they can see for the future. Not all the kids are going to go to college.”
Children need to have goals they can obtain for the future. While 99 percent of Columbus High students graduate and only a little more than 60 percent at Spencer High, Morales said the board needs to look at why students aren’t graduating, whether it is poverty or other causes.
“We’ve got to supply them with the tools schools need and a light at the end of the tunnel for students,” he said. “Students have to have that goal. They have to see a future when they graduate high school. When they go to college or get a career, they have to have that in front of them.”
Quality teachers in the classroom also need to be retained, he said. “If teachers are not making the grade, we need to take care of that as well. We need to put more into the school as well as the teachers.”
Janell Settle, the mother of a teenage autistic son, said was a bit lost after moving from a smaller school system in Geneva, Ala. She said it would really have been good to know what’s available for a parents with a special needs child.
At the smaller system, Settle said there were teachers aides to give more quality time to a smaller group but the group was bigger here.
“It’s hard to get that one on one attention,” she said. “I think that is the kind of thing I had an issue with and I pulled him out.”
Settle supports the use of volunteers to help special needs children. “At the time, I just felt like he needed more one on one,” she said. -