Elected to the Bartow County Board of Education Post 4 seat in November, the Euharlee resident brings a long history of community involvement to the position.
“I have learned this is an active and supportive community. Any problems that may face the school system I know we are not alone,” he said. “Businesses, industries, churches, Chamber of Commerce, media, etc., will help how they can. A great example of this is the community support for the College and Career Academy, Bartow County Reality Store, Image and Interview Day, Bartow Education Foundation, etc. I hope to help keep our relationships strong with the community.”
Placing an emphasis on improving the educational experience for area students, Kittle said he also would make searching out innovative solutions a top priority.
Post 4, which covers Euharlee, is one of three seats on the board to be filled in just six months. Anna Sullivan, who had been appointed to the Post 5 seat, ran and won the position left vacant last year. Matt Schultz then assumed last month the Post 3 seat vacated by Angie Cornett in a Jan. 2 resignation.
When asked how he hoped the board would move forward following a quagmire of controversy, Kittle eludes only to the issue, pointing instead to the board’s accomplishments.
“I would have to give the Bartow County School System high marks for many accomplishments in 2012 — literacy grant, College and Career Academy and grant, Schools of Excellence, etc.,” he said. “There are some unintended consequences with the restrictions school board members have on them compared to a state house representative or state senator. One of those consequences is communication. A Bartow County school board member cannot discuss school issues if there are two other members present. Media and public have to be notified because it is considered a meeting.
“I believe we do have a good board and we will work well together to improve the education experience of our students.”
As with most agencies, the economy weighs heavily on the school board, but Kittle sees economic assets as well.
“Less revenues in the current economy is an issue. I am in favor of Bartow County going to 100 percent Freeport or no taxes on manufacturers’ inventories,” Kittle said. “We have a great commissioner that will do this if we ask. Steve Taylor knows how important education is and would not do anything to hurt education. Going 100 percent Freeport will not affect income from the tax this year. The amount based on 2012 values is $171,789.”
Pointing to expected revenues from projects such as LakePoint, Kittle believes the county will more than make up the difference.
“The asset of no taxes on inventories will open our community up for more manufactures to locate in Bartow County. This will also help our existing manufactures be more profitable,” he said. “We have a great economic development group. This action will give [Cartersville-Bartow County Department of Economic Development Executive Director] Melinda Lemmon’s team another tool to bring in good-paying jobs and increase the schools’ revenues by economic growth.”
With education popping up in the political arena — President Barack Obama has proposed national pre-K and at the state level a proposed bill would remove Georgia from the national curriculum standards — it’s a wait-and-see game for local school systems.
“By state law we have to make decisions before knowing what funding we will be receiving from the state on teacher contracts. Though you do want to secure your teachers early, we would like to know what our income will be,” Kittle said. “There is some legal language that protects the school system if projected funding from the state does not come as anticipated, but there is lost time and energy in making educated guesses.”
Looking forward, Kittle said he hopes the educational experience and environment in the county school system is second-to-none at the end of his term — whether he receives credit for that success or not.
“I often solicit help and support to accomplish goals. I have learned a long time ago if you try to do it all yourself, the outcome often is not as good as it could be.”