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Leon School Board Candidates Nicolas & Jones Question 'Average' Schools In New Ad

Two candidates are teaming up to unseat the longest-serving members of the Leon County School Board.  In a joint campaign ad, candidates Marcus Nicolas and Darryl Jones say not all students are getting an equal education.

The ad focuses on the district's C-rated schools, which are mostly in lower income and higher minority areas of the county. And the ad asks the question of why that is.

Darryl Jones wants to unseat incumbent Maggie Lewis Butler in the school board’s 3rd district. She’s the longest-serving member of the Leon County School Board and her district also encompases two of the lowest-performing schools in the county Oakridge and Pineview Elementary.  The area is also home to some of the lowest-earning households in the county, with an average income of about $33,000

“How can we take pride when we’re really a tale of two cities?  Jones asks. "The best of times for some, the worst for others. Specifically when we talk about education which is the gateway to prosperity for all people.”

He and 5th district candidate Marcus Nicolas are running a joint ad aimed at shaking up the school board. Nicolas wants to unseat board member Joy Bowen, and during a recent appearance on WFSU’s perspectives show, the two clashed over policy.

“District five needs a leader who will help the overworked, underpaid, and underfunded district achieve its mission. And I want to continue that work," said Nicolas. "The only thing that will be different is that I will be sitting behind a dais."

But his comments about board members being in the seat too long rankled Bowen.

"I’ve been on this job 20 years," she said. "And people are looking a incumbents and calling them old….I’m still making good decisions. I make policy, I know the rules and I know what being a boardsman is.”

The Leon School District is trying to keep Oakridge and Pineview under its control. There’s already a new administrative team in place at Pineview and the district is focusing on new reading programs at Oakridge. However, if the schools don’t improve, they could be placed under private management by the state. 

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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