Democrat Mike Russell and Republican Jeff Worsham met at Roddenbery Memorial Library for Tuesday’s WGRA Grady County Board of Education District 1 political forum.
Host Jeff Lovett began the debate and asked about graduation rates, test scores and other issues.
Next Tuesday, Cairo High School parents and teachers will vote on the charter conversion to Cairo High School College and Career Academy. Current school board members will vote Oct. 30.
“Overall, I think it is a big change that should be studied, well planned and studied again,” Russell said. “It should include as much parent and community involvement as possible. I’m not in favor of change for change sake, nor am I for following a dollar unless we know for sure that it is a good thing. Many times these free dollars have big price tags.
“These decisions should be based on a solid, long-term plan based on the best education possible for all students and best stewardship of our tax dollars. I think, personally, that the voting needs to be delayed. I haven’t received a lot of information on it myself, and I don’t really think that the public has been made aware of it like they should have been.”
Worsham added, “In general, I support the idea behind charter schools. I guess what gets me is that when the charter talk first started, everything we heard was the local board of education would still be the authority over the charter schools. In the past week, there has been information that has come out that suggests otherwise. I pulled the charter application and studied it, and there are five or six references to the word ‘autonomous.’ The dictionary says that that is an independent, self-contained and self-governing, so I have some concerns."