Candidates vie for three Bartow school board seats
by Cheree Dye
May 18, 2014 | 3145 views | 0 0 comments | 34 34 recommendations | email to a friend | print
One seat on the Bartow County School Board is being contested in the upcoming election. In District 1, Paul Nally, a Democrat, is challenging the Republican incumbent John Howard. Matt Shultz vacated his seat in District 3. Republican Deanna Berry is facing off with Derrick Keeney, also a Republican, for Shultz’s seat. The primary will be held Tuesday.

Name: John Howard

Occupation: Vice President of Industrial Construction Services, Inc.

Family: Married for 20 years to Kerry Howard; one daughter, Ainsley Sue, a fifth-grader at White Elementary and will attend Cass Middle in the fall

Education: BS Mechanical Engineering, Southern College of Technology Age: 44

Email: John.Howard2@Bartow.K12.GA.US

Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: Having been able to serve the last 3 1/2 years on the board, I have had the opportunity to become involved in several of the Bartow County School Systems’ programs. These programs, such as the Backpack Buddies, the Bartow County College and Career Academy, the welding program at Cass High and the Bartow Education Foundation, are wonderful programs that assist the students of Bartow County. I believe that running for another term would allow me to continue to support these programs along with helping the school system create additional programs that help students beyond the classroom.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: If elected, I would like to have the opportunity to work more with Dr. [Paul] Sabin at the BCCCA. Getting the students involved, ultimately to increase the graduation rate, is an important element in today’s education. At the BCCCA, the school system is able to do just that. By having programs such as nursing, public safety and welding, the BCCCA can encourage and train students for careers in fields that they are interested in. Subsequently, after graduation from these programs, the students will have a step up above their competition when entering the workplace or continuing on at a two- or four-year college. Thus, students who are not geared toward or have a desire to attend college will have, upon graduation from high school, experience from the programs of his/her choosing that will enable them to achieve gainful employment in their field. The opportunity the school system can provide is unlimited at the BCCCA and I would love to have the opportunity to continue my next term in helping the academy to grow. What is the most pressing issue facing Bartow County Schools?

A: Due to the economy, the most pressing issue facing Bartow County Schools is funding. The last five to six years of increasing mandates and underfunding from the state of Georgia along with decreasing tax digests have really taken a toll on our school system. The school system was fortunate to have a reserve but, even with that reserve, cuts have been necessary in all aspects of education. Furloughs for teachers, programs and service cuts, positions left unfilled, have unfortunately become the norm. I have to say that because of the wonderful, dedicated teachers and staff watching all aspects of spending, the school system has been able to stay under projected loses, but not without sacrifice. Hopefully, the state will see how much they take from the school systems, how much they take from public education and change the formulas to fully fund the education system in Georgia and make the funding of our children’s schools an everyday priority rather than just a topic to discuss during election year.

Once in office, what will your top priority be?

A: In using my background in construction, my top priority is to continue working with the superintendent to insure that the Construction and Maintenance Department is making decisions that are best for our students and county. I have had the privilege, the last couple of years, to work with Mr. Diaya who is over all construction and maintenance for the school system. He and his staff always make sure that costs are kept low and that decisions are made considering the whole picture, not by cost alone, but also with what will provide the longest support for our students. Examples of this are the successful completion of the new schools of Adairsville Middle, Cloverleaf Elementary and, shortly, Emerson Elementary. We are fortunate to have these state-of-the-art facilities in Bartow County for our students, and I will make sure that we, as a school system, are being good stewards of the taxpayers’ [Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax] funds. I will also continue to provide my expertise to ensure that these projects and future renovations are successful.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

A: As a small business owner and parent of a child in the Bartow County School System, I believe I have been able to make decisions that support the goals of the school system whose main concern is the education of our children. I am the best candidate for the position because I bring to the school board my construction background, my expertise in running a successful company and certainly, but not least, my knowledge as a parent to make the best decisions for mine and my wife’s daughter in her schools and for all of the children of Bartow County.

Name: Paul L. Nally

Occupation: Retired, stock trading

Family: Big. My Dad and his brothers did some genealogy research one time and were able to go so far back in history they found that Adam’s last name was “Nally”

Education: 13 formal years. Not enough, but at the time, working in manufacturing, making $2.22 per hour in 1964, who needed a college education, right?

Age: 68

Website: N/A


Why did you decide to run in this particular race?

A: This government has performed exceedingly well in educating my generation and the present generation to a maximally acceptable level of ignorance. I mean to raise the bar and raze the Bar because of it, God willing.

What is the most pressing issue facing Bartow County schools?

A: Ignorance, and worse, the indifference to ignorance.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish? A: See above.

Once in office, what will your top priority be?

A: End the indifference to ignorance, at all levels of the educational spectrum.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

A: From a day laborer in the cotton and hay fields to a business owner, from a law enforcement officer to a judge to a prisoner for liberty, a lifetime of lessons learned through the school of hard knocks, and that coupled with a passion to know, to understand, and to help where I am able.

Two Republican candidates are competing for the seat in District 3.

Name: Deanna Berry

Occupation: Marketing Consultant

Family: Married to John Berry; one daughter, Madeline, 16; one son, Bailey, 6

Education: BBA Economics, Kennesaw State University

Age: 36



Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: As the mother of two children in the Bartow County School System, I have seen many things that we are doing right. I have also seen areas where we could improve and areas where we are missing the mark altogether. It is important that we, as parents, have a voice on the school board that demands more transparency, less drama and a higher level of excellence.

We need to take a common sense approach to solving the challenges we are facing in our education system. Tough decisions need to be made, and I am confident that I’m the right person to serve in this difficult time and take a stand for our children.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: If elected, my goal is simple. I want to accomplish tangible improvements to our school system starting with transparency on our school board. There is no reason that our Board of Education shouldn’t allow a period of time between the work session and the business meeting. The constituents should have a chance to voice their concerns to their representative before a vote is taken. In addition to transparency, our curriculum needs improvement. We need to ensure that resources are available to the teachers, students and parents that encourage research, analysis, and learning rather than giving them a study guide to memorize or simply teaching to the test standards.

What is the most pressing issue facing Bartow County Schools?

A: The most pressing issue our school system faces is simply providing a better education for our children. This includes transparency and accountability on our school board, an improved and accessible curriculum, and a renewed focus on technology and cross-sector community collaboration that brings real world application into the classroom.

As a Marine Corps veteran, I look forward to applying the principle of “Adapt and Overcome” to overcome the challenges we are facing in the school system.

Once in office, what will your top priority be?

A: As mentioned above, my top priority will be informing and engaging the Bartow County community and pushing for a transparent decision making process.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

A: Being the mother of two Bartow County students, I have experienced both the pride of our system’s accomplishments and the frustrations of its shortcomings. As a conservative, I am a huge proponent of school choice and fully support my opponent’s decision to send his children out of district to Cartersville City Schools. I think this should be every parent’s right.

However, I feel that being the only candidate in this race with children in the Bartow County Schools certainly gives me a better grasp on the unique challenges that we are facing. It is important that we, as parents, have a voice on the school board that understands these things and demands transparency, accountability and excellence for our children’s education.

Name: Derek L. Keeney

Occupation: Engineering Manager

Family: Married to Beth Keeney for 21 years; three sons, Daniel, 16, Luke, 14, and Tyler, 13

Education: BS Electrical Engineering, Georgia Tech 1989; MBA Accounting, University of Phoenix 2005

Age: 47



Why did you decide to run for this particular race?

A: I have been interested in running for school board for several years, but my commitments to youth programs and service on various boards have not afforded me the time.

With my experience in the private sector along with my passion for our youth, I bring the voice of an advocate for the students of Bartow County to the school board. Our educational system is very dear to me and my family. As the husband of an educator in the Bartow County School System, I understand firsthand the difficulties and challenges facing our school system, administration and teachers.

I have been called to make myself available as a candidate this year in order to serve the students and all of Bartow County. The recent recession has highlighted just how important a solid educational environment is to a community. If we are to compete economically with neighboring counties, states and countries, we must strive to make Bartow County the best educational system in Georgia. My background as an engineering manager has uniquely prepared me for this role. I have the experience to work collaboratively on a team without compromising my foundational beliefs.

If elected, what do you want to accomplish?

A: My goal in serving on the school board is to do just that, to serve. It is my desire to serve the students and parents in this school district through accessibility and transparency. This is a great community, and I believe our best days are ahead of us. There are a lot of great things happening with the Bartow County School System. There are great servants in the system, including our teachers, staff, administrators and support teams. I want to continue building on the good things that are happening and make them great. I want to make decisions that are in the best interest of the students. And I want the Bartow County School System to be recognized as the best school system in the state of Georgia.

What is the most pressing issue facing Bartow County schools?

A: The most pressing issue facing the Bartow County School System is maintaining focus on the core mission — our students. The schools exist to provide a safe, secure, educational environment for our children. There are ample opportunities to become distracted from focusing on the students, I seek to serve with a solution-minded heart. I am running to serve the students of Bartow County. I will make certain that as a board we will not allow anything to interfere with our focus on the students.

Our graduation rate is improving, but it needs to be better. We have to understand why we are not graduating all of our students and work to meet them at their point of need. The Bartow County College and Career Academy is an excellent example of where we are working as a system to meet this need. The BCCCA is providing opportunities for students that, to this point, have gone unmet; graduation rates will improve because of the BCCCA. We need to identify the next opportunity. And the next. And the next.

Once in office, what will your top priority be?

A: My top priority is to serve the students and families of Bartow County. This will be accomplished by listening to and understanding the needs of the students, teachers, parents, administrators and the community. A strong school system attracts industry and economic opportunities that drive an economy. As the economy grows and unemployment drops, the tax base will grow and increase revenue to our schools. If our school system maintains a laser focus on serving the students we will have the best school system in the state of Georgia.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

A: I have over 25 years of leadership experience in manufacturing and project management. My occupation requires me to work with teams with competing priorities and to bring these teams together for success. As a leader, I have extensive experience managing conflict, sometimes daily. I am confident my qualifications as a team player will be an asset to the school board as difficult decisions are made. I work in an environment where critical decisions have to be made with incomplete information. I bring stability, intensity, dedication, commitment, hard work and conservative Christian values to this race with the loving support of my wife of 21 years, an educator in the Bartow County School system, and my children, Daniel, Luke and Tyler As a stable conservative candidate for this position, I am truly committed to serving the students of Bartow County and representing the taxpayers of District 3.