Education

MCSD board candidates grade superintendent’s performance. Here’s the report card.

Muscogee County School District superintendent David Lewis has been leading the public schools in Columbus since the Muscogee County School Board hired him from Polk County, Fla., in July 2013.
Muscogee County School District superintendent David Lewis has been leading the public schools in Columbus since the Muscogee County School Board hired him from Polk County, Fla., in July 2013. photo@ledger-enquirer.com

The 11 Muscogee County School Board candidates on the 2018 ballot have graded the performance of superintendent David Lewis in response to the Ledger-Enquirer’s query. Here’s the report card, plus bio info each candidate provided.

The deadline to register to vote in the state primary and local nonpartisan elections was April 24. Advance in-person voting started Monday and runs through May 18 in the City Services Center, 3111 Citizens Way. May 22 will be Election Day for those races.

At-large candidates

Name: Kia Chambers.

Age: 45.

Occupation: Real estate broker.

Experience: Former MCSD educator; teacher support specialist; gifted education certified; university supervisor, Columbus State University; elected to MCSD board in 2014, became vice chairwoman in 2017 and chairwoman in 2018.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in biology, Albany State University; master’s and specialist’s degrees in elementary and middle grades education, Troy State University; doctoral candidate in administration and supervision, Auburn University.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“Letter grades are typically given for a specific subject like math or science to show proficiency in that disciplined scope of study. The real world doesn’t work like that. The district requires interdisciplinary thinking and balancing a complex array of different factors to be successful. So, I will refrain from assigning a letter grade to our district. I will instead provide an overview of where I believe we are as a district.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“Student achievement always drives the ‘why’ of what we do and while we are not where we would like to be, we have made tremendous progress. As with any organization or leader there is always room for improvement when the ultimate goal is to move from good to great. Currently, we are making great strides in the area of STEM, Career & Technical Education, and we have grown leaps and bounds with the addition of our new Autism wings. I believe the superintendent has done a good job bringing new innovative programs to our District and the board has supported those ideas and we will be able to realize the benefit of these programs in the near future.”

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Name: Tony McCool.

Age: 50.

Occupation: Supply chain planner.

Experience: Management, training and human resources positions; served in the military; worked at Aflac, now NCR; volunteered in community for over 20 years, including president of Greater Columbus Association of Gifted Children and coach of youth soccer, basketball, and middle school tennis teams; was MCSD substitute teacher.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in management, Columbus State University.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“D.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“I think he has done just enough to get by but has not guided the district in the right direction. He has not been transparent.”

District 2 candidates

Name: Mike Edmondson.

Age: 63.

Occupation: Retired MCSD teacher, part-time Columbus State University Instructor, part-time MCSD administrator.

Experience: 35 years in public schools, teaching environmental science, chemistry and physics; 20-plus years with CSU part-time; helped on the CSU Coca-Cola Space Science Center project; collaborated on the International Baccalaureate program at Hardaway High School; established and supervised the engineering and engineering design program at Northside High School; wrote and received more than $250,000 in grants; developed and administered budgets for schools and magnet programs; served on the boards of the Springer Opera House, its Children’s Theatre Academy and the Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in chemistry, master’s degree in general science and specialist’s degree in science from CSU; doctorate in science education, Auburn University.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“Understanding the relative nature of grades, I would say an A.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“Dr. Lewis has made inroads to improving failing schools, to addressing financial issues, and leading application of the past SPLOST. I look forward to working with him. In my experiences trying to purchase and renovate Bibb Elementary, he was very supportive. He is aware of the appropriate needs for a wide audience of students.”

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Name: Sheryl Hobbs McCraine.

Age: 42.

Occupation: Aflac claims specialist.

Experience: “My husband and I have one child and are currently the legal guardians of two other school-aged children. We have also fostered over 20 children. I volunteer frequently, on my days off, in my children’s schools assisting teachers. I am also active in the PTO and help at other school-sponsored events.”

Education: Certified Medical Life and Health Specialist from Columbus Technical College.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“I would grade him a low C.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“According the CCRPI, the district has scored a 71 for 2017. That’s passing — but barely. The positive is this is up 4.5 points from 2013, when he was hired. I am not satisfied with the district still being in the bottom third in the state, but I look forward to working with Administration and Board Members to improve this number drastically.”

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Name: Bart Steed.

Age: 60.

Occupation: Business owner, auto industry.

Experience: Attended more than 100 school board meetings, not missing a meeting in five years; 38 years of as a business owner; 38-plus years managing budget and making a payroll; expert in resolving complex problem; expert in customer care; member of Jordan Vocational High School College and Career Academy Grant Team; appointed to MCSD School Closing Committee, MCSD Alternative Education Committee, MCSD SPLOST Committee; member of MCSD Automotive Advisory Board.

Education: Columbus College.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“I give the superintendent an A.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“I feel that given the resources with which he has to work, and the hostile environment in which he has to work, he has done well. This is not to say that he cannot do better, but I believe he must first have a Board that is willing to work with him if we are to fulfill our potential.”

District 4 candidates

Name: Naomi Buckner.

Age: 65.

Occupation: Special-education teacher.

Experience: Forty-one years teaching pre-K through 12th grade, including Tri-County High School, Phenix City Schools, Stewart County Elementary School and currently at Chattahoochee County High School; member of Muscogee County School Board for the past 15 years.

Education: Carver High School graduate, 1970; philosophy degree from College of Wooster, 1974; specific learning disabilities degree from Columbus College, 1978, later certified in inter-related special education and social studies.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“I will not be able to convert the Superintendent’s grade to a letter grade.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“We grade him according to how he performs on goals. His mastery is at different percentages now. Some goals he has not started. He varies from 0% to 100%. The grade would be reported as a standard-based grade.”

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Name: Toyia Tucker.

Age: 40.

Occupation: Retired U.S. Air Force veteran.

Experience: Over 20 years as youth mentor, tutor and adviser; served on The Family Center of Columbus board, which oversees Big Brothers Big Sisters and Families And Schools Together; served on Parent Advisory Board for Gunter Air Force Base, Child Development Center; parent volunteer, outreach coordinator, project manager, information technology specialist, community leader.

Education: bachelor’s degree in psychology, University of Phoenix, 2014; CompTIA A+ Certified Professional, Anchorage, Alaska, 2009; associate’s degree in information resource management, Community College of the Air Force, 2006; Carver High School graduate, 1996.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“D.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“The grade directly correlates with the CCRPI scores for District 4. The students’ failure falls on leadership, both the Superintendent and the Board Member from the respective District.”

District 6 candidates

Name: Mark Cantrell.

Age: 58.

Occupation: CEO of Action Buildings for 38 years.

Experience: MCSD board member for 7½ years; former director for the Columbus area St Jude Children’s Hospital; director of the Columbus Shriners Circus for the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

Education: National Broadcasting College; Columbus Technical College.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“B.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“Our district is fortunate to have Dr. Lewis as our superintendent. While there is always room for improvement, his initiatives and progressive manner have brought many positive aspects to our district. He is both a gentleman and a scholar.”

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Name: Eddie Obleton.

Age: 61.

Occupation: Assistant principal.

Experience: 40-year educator, teacher, assistant principal, principal, director of secondary education, chief student services officer, tenured assistant professor at Columbus State University; 22-year retiree of U.S. Army Reserves; board member of several organizations.

Education: Carver High School graduate; bachelor’s degree from University of Georgia; master’s and specialist’s degrees from Georgia State University; doctorate from Auburn University.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“B.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“Because of data that proves improvement in academic achievement. We still have segments, when the data is disaggregated, that are lagging behind. He has attempted to look for efficiencies when spending taxpayers’ money. Professional learning opportunities are provided for staff members. Athletic and Fine Arts programs have been enhanced.”

District 8 candidates

Name: Frank Myers.

Age: 57.

Occupation: Attorney.

Experience: Elected to MCSD board in 2014.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science, Georgia Southwestern State University, 1983; juris doctorate, Woodrow Wilson College of Law, 1987.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“D.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“This is the same grade the state Department of Education gave our elementary schools in the latest annual College and Career Ready Performance Index. The CCRPI is the standard by which we measure the effectiveness of our school system. The majority of our public school third-graders cannot read on grade level, which means 90% of these young people will be on public assistance or in prison in the next few years. We are not seeing any meaningful progress in correcting this very important issue despite the issue being raised several times at board meetings.”

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Name: Philip Schley.

Age: 85

Occupation: Retired surgeon.

Experience: Served on the MCSD board for 21 years (1972-81 and 1998-2010), including as chairman for nine years.

Education: Wynnton School; Columbus High School; Emory University.

Using a letter grade A-F, how well has the superintendent performed his duties?

“A.”

Why did you choose that grade?

“Dr. Lewis is an excellent Superintendent. Rising graduation rates. Rising test scores. Reducing the number of chronically failing schools. Of course, our teachers deserve an enormous amount of credit for these achievements.”

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