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Election 2020: Lanier challenging Yoder for superintendent

David Adlerstein
The Apalach Times
The Apalach Times

The race for superintendent of the Franklin County Schools will be hotly contested this year, to be decided at the polls in November.

The possibility that incumbent Democrat Traci Moses Yoder, 42, of Apalachicola, would face a challenger in the Aug. 18 Democratic primary faded last week, when Michael Sneed, 40, of Apalachicola, the former principal of the Franklin County Schools, opted not to file the requisite paperwork to qualify to run.

Rather, Yoder will face Republican challenger Steve Lanier, 62, Eastpont, in the November general election.

In terms of financing their campaigns, Lanier has raised about $5,600, slightly more than Yoder, who has $4,900 in her campaign coffers.

Voters have until Oct. 5 to register to vote for the Nov. 3 general election.

In the ongoing school tax referendum mail ballot election, 1,401 of the district’s 8,184 eligible voters, or about 17 percent, had returned their ballots, as of Tuesday evening. Of these, 650 were from Democrats, 585 from Republicans, and the remaining 166 from voters either without party affiliation or affiliated with a minor party.

The largest chunk of votes, 275, had come in from Precinct 5, which votes at the Carrabelle Senior Center. A total of 258 have come in from Precinct 3 in Apalachicola, which comprises much of the Hill neighborhood, west and north of U.S. 98. In Eastpoint’s Precinct 1, a total of 226 votes had been cast.

Ballots are all due by at the elections office by Tuesday, June 23 at 7 p.m. Those with questions are asked to call the elections office at 653-9520.

STEVE LANIER

My name is Steve Lanier and I am running for superintendent of schools in Franklin County. The superintendent is one of the most important leadership positions in our county. There is no greater responsibility that can be given to an individual than to be trusted with a child’s education. Schools are the backbone of any community. They produce our thinkers, leaders, innovators, and productive citizens.

Today, we are at a critical crossroads in determining the future of the Franklin County School District. This is like no other time in the history of our schools. Many of you in our community have told me that you have lost confidence in our school leadership and want change. Issues such as cancelling the football season last year, replacing principals yearly (the school district is about to hire its fourth principal in four years), student attendance, discipline problems, and little or no transparency from the leadership are only a few of the reasons for this loss of confidence.

Our schools simply cannot continue on this course for another four years. Since 2016, our test scores, state ranking, student enrollment and teacher retention have declined. As a result, the Franklin County School District has continued to fall in the state rankings as we are now ranked number 62 out of 67 school districts in the State of Florida, our worst ranking ever. Since 2010, our school grade has been a “C”, while other area surrounding school districts consistently grade out higher as an “A” or “B” school. This is unacceptable and should not be the status quo.

I am a product of the Franklin County system. I grew up in Franklin County and attended elementary, junior high, and high school in Apalachicola. I graduated from Apalachicola High School in 1976. My father, Don Lanier grew up in Apalachicola and was the owner of Lanier Pharmacy in Apalachicola for 45 years until his retirement in 2004. My mother, Shirley Taylor, has been a resident living in Franklin County for over 70 years.

I am a military veteran and dedicated patriot to our country. In 1979, I enlisted in the Air Force. In 1985, after I graduated from the University of Oklahoma with my masters in public administration, I was commissioned as a lieutenant in the Navy. After 12 duty stations and 27 years of service to my country, I retired as a senior officer with the rank of commander and returned to my roots in Franklin County.

I am employed as the executive director of the Apalachicola Housing Authority. I am also chairman of the board of directors of the Apalachee Mental Health Center in Tallahassee. I am married to the former Sheila Bradberry of Tallahassee and have two daughters, Ashley, age 31, and Kelsey, age 27. Sheila is a graduate of Florida State University and is retired after having a 35-year career with the State of Florida.

My educational background and work experience offer a unique and fresh perspective as superintendent of schools. I am a proven leader and top performer in my professional career of over 40 years where I have extensive background in team building, strategic planning, business, management, and finance.

I believe that a successful school district requires a combined effort by the superintendent, school board, principal, school administration, teachers, students, parents, and community. Everyone must promote a positive culture of high expectations and be responsive in preparing students for an ever changing world. As your superintendent, you can be assured that I will be a voice for all of our students and an ardent supporter of our teachers.

I plan to work with parents, teachers, and our community to ensure that Franklin County students receive the best educational experience they deserve. I pledge to serve you with an uncompromising code of integrity and honesty. I will conduct myself in the highest ethical manner in all relationships. While genuine leadership is the key to any successful organization, the ability to analyze, budget, plan, and listen are critical skill components of the superintendent. I will set and communicate a clear and positive direction for our schools. I will represent all school employees and will lead you with honesty, transparency, and without hidden agendas.

Our teachers are the key to our student’s education and a successful school system. They deserve to be respected, heard, and supported by school administration and parents. Investing in and supporting our teachers will be one of the top priorities under my leadership. I will listen to the needs of our teachers and will encourage open lines of communication. I will not micromanage our principal or teachers.

There is a large movement within Franklin County for change in direction and leadership of our superintendent of schools. I ask for your vote and support, and together, we can make this change which will ultimately make our schools better. We owe it to our students and citizens to be a school district that our community can be proud of and one that is respected by other school districts.

For additional information concerning my platform and experience, please look at my website www.SteveLanier2020.com

TRACI MOSES YODER

Hello Franklin County friends, family, and neighbors,

I am Traci Moses Yoder, and I am excited to announce my intent to seek reelection to continue to serve as your Superintendent of Schools. I am grateful for the opportunity to have served the students, staff, and families of Franklin County. I have lived in and continually invested into our community my entire life.

The future of our community lies in the strength of our families, the purposeful education of our children as our future leaders and ongoing investments into building and maintaining strong community partnerships.

In 2016 when running for the office of Superintendent of Schools it was my mission to provide all students with pathways for a bright future, making long term positive impacts in our community.

Education is my life’s passion. I served as an educator in Franklin County for 15 years prior to being elected. I am an alumnus of The Florida State University. I am not only invested in education in Franklin County as an educator, I am also the proud mother of a Franklin County School 10th grade student and a Franklin County School alumnus, who graduated with his AA and, is excelling in the FSU College of Business.

The office of Superintendent of Schools is one of the most critical public servant roles in our county. I firmly believe a background and experience in education is necessary for successfully supporting our students, staff, and families to ensure that our students receive the best educational opportunities available through responsibly allocating resources to support this mission. The superintendent is not only the CEO and CFO of the school district but is also the instructional leader for the entire district.

As the instructional leader for our district, I have been and remain committed to advancing my knowledge and understanding of the critical duties and responsibilities as superintendent of schools. Since taking office in 2016, I have successfully completed the requirements for the Florida Department of Education superintendent certification program. I have also maintained the renewal requirements for the Florida Association of District School Superintendents Chief Executive Officer Leadership Development Program, a leadership development program for Florida superintendents that is comparable to the CEO leadership development programs for corporate executives and military officers.

Since taking office, my team of dedicated leaders and I have accomplished significant advancements for our students and staff. A few areas of substantial progress since 2016 are:

Increased success in pathways to High School Graduation and Adult Education/GED https://edstats.fldoe.org/

Increased opportunities for dual enrollment and post-secondary course credits in traditional academic and for career and technical certifications.

Enhanced school safety and security measures, such as new visitor check-in system, perimeter fencing and roll gates, installed single points of entry on campuses; partnered with the FCSO to increase SRO presence and implement the School Guardian Program; new communications systems on campus, and additional security cameras, developing the Emergency Escape Route for the FCS campus, and implemented the Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (ALICE) program to prevent, mitigate, respond to, and recover from a critical incident.

Awarded the first forestry scholarships in the district

Improved the Take Stock in Children program, increasing the number of scholarships awarded in our district

Significantly improved the internet bandwidth speeds in the district

Restructured the Franklin County Education Foundation, establishing a new board of directors, and securing multiple matching grants to purchase classroom supplies and materials

Expanded career and industry technical programs from Digital Tools and Culinary Arts to now include WELDING: Post-secondary course credits, and one of four certifications from The American Welding Society; BUSINESS: Internet Business Associate, QuickBooks, and Network Technology Associate; HEALTH SCIENCES: Certified Nursing Assistant, Certified EKG Technician, and Certified Medical Administrative Assistant; and AVIATION: Small UAS Safety Certification and Visual Line of Sight System Operator Certification

Implemented new family and community engagement communication tools

Maintained healthy financial reserves, developed additional internal control mechanisms for auditing purposes and invested into a savings trust account for our district.

Secured Triumph Gulf Coast funds for continuous future enhancements of educational programs.

Along with my dedicated team, I will continue to provide principled leadership that seeks what is best for our students, staff, families, and community. I remain invested in this mission, to support our students in reaching their maximum potential, giving them the brightest futures possible, and providing pathways to graduation, college, and careers.

I am forever thankful for your support in 2016, and I humbly ask for your continued support and partnership in 2020, as I continue to provide proven leadership from this generation, for the next.