By Bill Short
Position 2 School Board member C. J. Haley, seeking her third term, is being challenged by Marlon Evans in the Nov. 6 Millington city elections.
A 1983 graduate of Lakeside High School in Lake Village, Ark., Evans attended The University of Arkansas at Monticello from 1983-85.
Currently employed as a Shelby County sheriff’s deputy, he is a member of River of Life Church, an avid golfer and kayak bass fisherman.
Evans and his wife Carla have three sons, a daughter-in-law and a granddaughter.
A native of Mississippi, Haley is a graduate of Bartlett High School and The University of Memphis.
Currently employed as a bookkeeper, she also serves as a mentor for Tennessee Promise, a scholarship/mentoring program that guides students through the college admission process.
Haley and her husband Jake have one son, Jeb, who is a sophomore at Millington Central High School.
Both candidates recently responded to the following questions prepared and distributed by The Millington Star:
1. What additional policies do you think the newly elected school board should adopt after it is sworn in?
Evans called the board policies a “living, breathing, constantly changing element.”
“As I am familiarizing myself with the current policies,” he said, “I do know I will be focusing on student- and educator-first guidelines.”
Haley believes the board should consider additional pay for teachers who have advanced degrees, as well as a wage increase for employees who earn less than $15 an hour.
She would also like the board to examine the school system’s Career Technical Education programs to help students who want to “embark on a career” instead of pursuing post-secondary education.
“This may include a different diploma track altogether,” she acknowledged, “or programs that can lead to a certification.”
2. List three significant issues in this election.
Evans cited test scores, decreasing enrollment and public perception, while Haley listed promoting the school district and planning for its future, as well as developing and implementing policies.
3. Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues if elected or re-elected?
Evans believes test scores can be improved by urging the administration and leadership of the schools to “strongly encourage, challenge and equip” students to succeed and be the “absolute best” they can be.
Because he believes decreasing enrollment is related to perception, he said the board, administration, teachers and coaches must focus on the “positives” of the schools, which include the new and updated facilities.
“We need to update our sports facilities,” he noted. “I would love to see us have a turf field for the football program.”
Evans believes the school system should be represented by a “public relations administrator” who attends city and county meetings, publishes articles about the “good things” that are occurring and meets with program donors and volunteers to express appreciation for their continued support.
To promote the district, Haley said the board needs to “partner” with local churches, businesses and civic organizations to build relationships. She believes it must also use social media to keep everyone updated on events and tout the system’s achievements.
Because planning for the district’s future is a “challenging task,” Haley said the board needs to have “open and honest” conversations with residents and community leaders about its current status and how it should move forward.
She also said policy development and implementation is “crucial,” because that is the way the board governs.
“We are able to take state and federal laws and translate exactly how they’re going to work for us,” she noted. “Frequent review of our policies is important to identify areas where we can improve or make changes.”
4. What do you think is the biggest concern facing the municipal school system at this time?
While Evans listed “proper and continued funding,” as well as “overall public perception,” Haley cited “involvement.”
Calling every Millington resident a “stakeholder” in the system, she said senior citizens are “often overlooked.”
“I would love to see our elders volunteering in our schools and mentoring our students,” she noted.
5. What do you think should be the school system’s next priority in implementing its Five-Year Capital Improvements Plan?
Evans expressed “full confidence” in the ability of new Superintendent James “Bo” Griffin to identify the “most important needs” of the schools. He said Griffin’s “hands-on approach” is
“valuable information” that will give the board members “a good idea” of what needs to be done first.
Haley said the board must address facilities at the elementary school level, particularly, E. A. Harrold Elementary.
6. What specifically makes you best qualified for the position you are seeking or seeking to retain?
Because his three sons graduated from Millington schools, Evans said that gave him a “parental view” of them.
He has also “worked closely” with administrators as a School Resource Officer at Bartlett, Bolton, Germantown, Kirby and Millington high schools, which gave him “knowledge and insight” into some of their “inner workings.”
Evans said he has served on a church board that assisted in directing finances and construction programs.
And in his current assignment with the Sheriff’s Office, he is “constantly listening” to negotiations with attorneys, which gives him “great insight” into working and communicating with people.
Haley said she is “passionate” about Millington and its schools.
“I have been invested and engaged in our school system since its inception,” she noted, “not only as a board member, but also as a parent of a student. I am committed to building our school district to be the best it can be – serving every student, every day.”