The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education has a new member who hopes she can be a representative for women in the community.
On Monday, Portia Jones was sworn in as the new District 1 representative on the board by Tuscaloosa Municipal Judge Ricky McKinney. Jones, who is filling the remainder of longtime board member the Rev. Schmitt Moore’s term, began her new role that night during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting.
Jones was appointed by the board to succeed Moore early since she's the only candidate running in the district. Moore, who served in District 1 for 12 years, stepped down from the board in February because he moved out of the district. However, he will run for the District 3 seat on the board in the general election Nov. 6 against Joe Calvin.
"Thank you for welcoming me," Jones told the board as her friends and family looked on.
Jones, a 2000 graduate of the University of Alabama, has lived in the Tuscaloosa area since 1996. She is a software analyst for RFMS and said she had thought about running for a seat on the board for years.
"As a mother and just to give some new perspective and have a female presence on the board," she said. "Most of the teachers are females, and you have a lot of young girls in the system, so I want to be a voice for them."
Jones said she isn't coming into office with a rigid set of goals because she wants to go into her new role with an open mind.
"I want to see what I can and can’t do first, learning all the rules, trying to gauge what I can control and get things done," she said.
However, Jones has spent years working in the community to educate people. Every Wednesday, she volunteers at Benville Missionary Baptist Church, where she tutors young people. She also works with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta, to mentor girls.
"Sometimes, kids need that little push to succeed and that can be done by spending time with them," she said.
School safety is one of the topics she would like to see addressed by the board.
"I would like to see, with the wake of all the shootings and guns being brought into schools, what can we put something in place," she said.
In addition, Jones is also in favor of trying to explore different programs and classes to cater to students in the county.
As the first action of the meeting, board president Don Presley welcomed Jones to the board.
"We’re glad to have you as a member of the board of education," Presley said.
Superintendent Walter Davie also expressed his optimism with Jones’ new role.
"She seems very excited about joining us," Davie said. "I think she brings a great perspective as a mom and community member, and we’re excited to have her."
Jones has a husband, Deangelo, as well as three children.
Schools in District 1 include Collins-Riverside Middle, Cottondale Elementary, Crestmont Elementary, Davis Emerson Middle, Duncanville Middle, Echols Middle, Englewood Elementary, Flatwoods Elementary, Hillcrest High, Hillcrest Middle, Holt Elementary, Holt High, Matthews Elementary, Maxwell Elementary, Myrtlewood Elementary and Taylorville Primary.
Reach Drew Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0204.