When they go to the polls Aug. 28, voters in two Apalachicola districts will decide on who they want to sit on the school board next year.
A third seat, District 2, on the eastern end of the county, was also up, but incumbent Pam Marshall didn’t draw an opponent and so she’ll continue in office for at least the next four years.
The two battles in Apalachicola are being fiercely fought, and since both are non-partisan elections, all voters, regardless of party, will be eligible to vote.
In District 3, a seat made vacant after longtime incumbent Teresa Ann Martin stepped down to run for tax collector, the fight is between Fonda Davis, Sr. and Roderick Robinson, Jr.
Davis, who has worked for the county solid waste department for 30 years, and now heads both it, animal control and the parks and recreation department, has been active for many years in the Hill neighborhood he would represent. He is a member of the Hillside Coalition of Laborers for Apalachicola (HCOLA), an ordained deacon and a director for church youth, and on the advisory board for the annual Dr. King holiday event.
He serves as assistant chief of the fire department, chairman of the Apalachicola Housing Authority, is a member of the Apalachicola board of adjustment, and co-owns a child care center with his wife. He’s a father of two, and grandfather of five.
“As a father and grandfather, I understand the importance of having a great education. as a school board member, I will help to ensure the success of our children within the Franklin County community,” he said. “It’s all about the kids.”
Robinson, who works as director of the Gulf Franklin Center, worked as a business education teacher and guidance counselor within the Franklin County School District.
He holds a bachelors in business administration, from Bethune-Cookman University, and a masters in counseling and psychology from Troy University.
A past president of the Franklin County Teachers Association, he points to seven projects he worked on while with the local district, including school and district leadership teams.
Using the slogan “our kids deserve more,” Robinson is advocating for more technical training programs, supporting programs designed to address low test scores, helping recruit qualified and vested teachers, instituting policies that address what he calls “poor hiring practices,” and developing an in-house academy designed to develop school and district-based leadership from within.
In the District 4 race, incumbent school board chairman Stacy Kirvin is facing a challenge from Christy Thompson.
Kirvin, a 1980 Apalachicola High School grad with further education at Gulf Coast Community College and the Florida State University School of Business, points to series of operational improvements he has made since joining the board, and particularly as chairman over the past two years.
He secured Master Board Certification for himself, and has been joined by three school board members, with Kristy Banks appointed only recently to represent District 3, a position she chose not to seek in the general election.
He says that certification has helped sharpen the board’s focus on discipline, attendance and achievement, streamlined bargaining with the district’s two unions and helped reorganize staff and their job descriptions, significantly improved the graduation rate, and led to the hiring of a human resource director to support staff, recruit and retain teachers.
He points to several infrastructure improvements, a pending partnership with Lively to provide a welding program for both students and adults, and the fact that dual enrollment student numbers are at all-time high.
Kirvin also stresses that over the past 18 months he has worked for the Florida School Boards Association as one of three consultants who travel the state to provide professional development for school boards and superintendents, in both large and small counties.
A longtime volunteer coach and former Sunday School teacher, he helped start the Bay Community Pre-School and the Apalachicola Bay Charter School.
“Providing a high-quality education for all Franklin County students has been my top priority,” he said. “I am committed to helping our schools be the best they can be.”
Thompson, who now works as public relations manager for the sheriff’s office, is a former educator, who attended school in the county, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in educational leadership with a K-12 Principal Certification.
She was dean of students at both the elementary and secondary levels for Franklin County Schools, with 10 years of experience as an educator, athletic coach and district administrator. She served as a classroom teacher in both Franklin and Hillsborough counties and coached softball, volleyball, basketball, and track.
Thompson is the leader of the Coats for Kids Drive which provides coats for less fortunate children in Franklin, organizes the annual Franklin Schools Junior-Senior Luncheon, and has worked closely with public safety events involving children, community, and schools.
“Christy is a committed Christian who believes in our traditional family values,” her campaign literature reads. “She will bring new energy and new ideas to our school board.
“I believe experience and education should be a priority concerning the election of school board members,” she said. “I ask that district 4 voters please look at these factors and vote accordingly. The students, faculty, staff and community deserve qualified members and I will be a voice that is heard on behalf of the people. I will continue working in our community with all residents and especially the youth to make Franklin County students the best they can be.”