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Jasper County school board incumbents face challengers

Two longtime incumbents on the Jasper County Board of Education face challengers in the Nov. 2 election.

Priscilla Fraser, who has served 16 years on the board, will face Shelia Polite-Walker to keep the District 7 seat.

In District 9, retired educator Barbara Clark is challenging Pat Walls, who has served 28 years.

DISTRICT 7

Fraser, 52, has lived in Jasper County all her life and is the manager of a store in Tanger Outlets. She wants to continue working with the superintendent the board hired this summer, Vashti Washington.

"I feel we can work together to help the children in Jasper County excel," she said.

Improving students' academic performance is her top priority. Fraser believes the district must do more to help students earn high grade point averages and pass all achievement tests so they can go on to college and possibly earn academic scholarships.

Fraser also wants to improve the image of Jasper County schools.

Several attempts to reach Polite-Walker for comment were unsuccessful.

DISTRICT 9

Clark, who taught in Chatham County, Ga., public schools for 35 years, said she has pondered a run for a board seat for about a dozen years. She said she regularly volunteers in Jasper County schools.

"I see a lot of things that I would like to see done differently, as far as academics are concerned," she said. "I believe more can be done. I believe funds can be spent a little bit better."

Clark, 58, said her priorities would be to find out why the school district hasn't been able to meet goals set in the federal No Child Left Behind law and determine why employee morale is low.

Clark also wants to find out if the maintenance team hired by the district is as effective as separate janitorial staffs at each school would be. She believes it could be more effective to have maintenance crews that report directly to the school principal.

Walls, 61, is one of the longest-serving members of the school board and said she isn't ready to step aside.

"We just appointed a new superintendent, and I know we're going to go places academically with the children," she said. "I feel sure our district is going to move and I want to be part of that."

Her top priority is improving academic achievement and meeting federal and state goals. She also wants high school graduation rates to rise.

The mother of five has 18 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, many of whom either attend or will attend Jasper County schools. She wants to ensure they and other students have opportunities to succeed.

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