With Jim Yancey retiring at the end of the year, the race for the new Marion County superintendent of public schools is on.
On Tuesday, county residents will decide between Diana Greene or George Tomyn to fill the superintendent position.
For both candidates, Greene and Tomyn agree that recent budget cuts in educational funding is the toughest issue currently facing school districts.
Greene, a deputy superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said despite the amount of funding from the state government remaining the same, the costs to run a school district continues to rise.
“So, even if we receive the same amount of funding,” she said, “in the end, it would be less funding because of the expenses that the school district has to incur to educate students.”
Tomyn, executive director for School Development and Evaluation, agreed, saying the school system needs to operate on the current budget despite it steadily shrinking.
“I do think that under the current circumstances, we can use the funds that are available, and we can provide an exemplary education for our students,” he said. “This is not going to be easy, and we’re going to see some changes in our delivery.”
“In the meantime, we’re just going to tighten our belt and do the best we can.”
If elected, Tomyn said he has a three-prong plan, which includes having school board procedures be more open to the public.
“We must have, for our community, a transparent procedure for our community to see our budget in action,” he said.
Tomyn added there is a need to focus on middle-achieving students.
“We have lots of resources for our low-achieving students and lots of resources for our high-achieving students,” he said. “But our middle students really need a whole lot of attention.”
Tomyn added there is also a need for vocational and career training opportunities for students.
“We have the mechanism for that. We have the teachers for that. We just need to let them do their jobs,” he said.
Greene, who attended high school in Marion County, said she has a similar plan to help students, which included continuing the trend of an increasing graduation rate.
When Greene started working on the school board in 2003, the graduation rate was at 60 percent. Since then, those numbers have changed.
“Today, our graduation rate is at 86 percent — the highest it’s ever been,” Greene said.
Greene said she wanted to reorganize the school board to operate on the shrinking budget and partner with the community to foster open communication between the district and parents.
She added that she wanted to develop a community advocacy board for each region in the district as well as establish partnerships with nonprofit organizations, businesses and community members.
Greene and Tomyn said they are dedicated to help the county’s public school system reach its full potential.
More information on the race can be found on the Marion County Supervisor of Elections’ website.
Chris Alcantara wrote this story online.