Clay County School Board - District 1

CLAY COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD - DISTRICT 1 (includes the following schools: Doctors Inlet, Fleming Island, R. M. Paterson, Swimming Pen Creek and Thunderbolt elementary schools, and Fleming Island High School) 

This nonpartisan race will be determined by the August primary election. 

Qualified Candidates

Janice Kerekes

Age: 56

Candidate's family: Married 33 years to my husband Mike. We have three boys: Michael, David, and Jamel.

Occupation: Current Clay County School Board Member, District 1; Nonprofit Board Member and Fundraiser; Community Volunteer.

Education: Suffolk County Community College

Political experience: Current Clay County School Board Member, District 1; Federated Republican Women of Clay, Vice President; Republican Executive Committee Precinct Committeewoman.

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Proud public school advocate fighting for all Clay County children.

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

1) The Budget:
I believe that the budget, and our School District's financial health, is the number one issue confronting our School Board today. We must continue to be fiscally prudent and question where every dollar is spent. It is part of our core mission to be responsible stewards of public funds and to be fully accountable for how, and what, we spend them on.
As a School Board member, I have called out wasteful spending and diverted funds from nonessential items back into the classroom. I supported legislation that required our senior staff members to trim within their departments in an effort to grow our fund reserves. I have always placed a priority on the classroom and believe that we must continue to make cuts to nonessential services.
A final aspect of protecting our budget is continuing to lobby Tallahassee for more direct control over our money. The sad fact is that much of our money comes back to us from the state and federal government with strings attached. Unfunded mandates put restrictions on our budget and worsen an already tough situation. We must continue to lobby our federal and state elected officials for more flexibility with our tax dollars. The question is 'who should be educating our kids?' I believe we should be making decisions at the local level about how and where we spend our money.

2) The Graduation Rate and Academic Excellence:
During my time on our School Board, we have already expanded our Career and Technical Education programs. These types of programs, along with other alternative education options such as the Clay Virtual Academy, will allow students to tailor their educational path to meet their specific goals. Additionally, we are offering more parent choice options such as the new Montessori program. I hope we can continue to expand through new specialty programs. Every student deserves the opportunity to succeed. We must identify and expand the programs that will help retain students in our public schools instead of losing them to special interest charter schools that fail to meet our standards of academic excellence.
Not all students will seek post-secondary education. This is where our Career and Technical Education Program ties into the goal of increasing every student's chance of graduating. If students are dropping out to pursue vocational jobs such as roofing, carpentry, auto mechanic or electricians, then we must offer them programs in which they can learn these trades and graduate with the certifications and licenses necessary to enter the workforce. Continuing to expand our Career and Technical Education Programs is a major priority for me as a School Board Member.
As our graduation rate has continued to increase so to has our overall district ranking. I am especially excited about the work we have done over the last year and the fact that the state has ranked Clay County an 'A' district. We have risen to number 8 in the state rankings and hope to continue to climb in the rankings as our students continue to excel.

3) School Safety:
Now more than ever School Districts across the state are trying to spend the limited funds available to fully secure and protect their schools. Since the tragedy at Parkland, the Clay County School Board has approved the placement of School Resources Officers at all of our high schools and junior high schools as well as School Safety Officers at all of our elementary schools. My ultimate goal as a School Board Member is to have School Resource Officers at all of our schools.
As a School Board member I have consistently voted to increase funding for school security using internal funds. We have worked over the last several years to harden our schools, including through the installation of enhanced security systems, perimeter fencing, and controlled access points through all school front offices. Additionally, I would like to see all of our school buses equipped with video cameras to protect both students and bus drivers.

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot?

For the five years prior to my election to our School Board, I attended all School Board meetings as a private citizen. Serving as a School Board Member is a fulltime commitment. I feel we need someone who is available fulltime and who is willing to make serving on our School Board his or her fulltime job. I understand the issues and am willing to make tough decisions. Sometimes I'm on the losing side of a vote, sometimes the prevailing side, but I will always vote for what is right for all of our children in Clay County. 
My leadership experience and my background working within our school system, as well as the various nonprofits and child-advocacy groups I am a part of, make me the strongest candidate in this race. Serving on the Clay County School Board is not a stepping-stone to a future goal; this is my goal. Everything I have worked for up to this point has prepared me for this role.

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office? 

Being remembered for my accomplishments is not, nor has it ever been my goal. My goal is, and will always be, to put Children First. I will know that I have been successful if I am able to help improve our graduation rate and expand the educational opportunities available to our students. Part of this goal is to continue expanding our Career and Technical Education Programs for the students that are not college bound. We must realize that not every student will attend college; alternative programs can help all of our students be successful and prepare for successful careers. The other part of this goal is to ensure that we are graduating well-rounded students. This means keeping music and art in all of our elementary schools. These are essential components in developing our next generation. I have devoted my entire adult life to giving back to my community and making a difference in the lives of children. As a School Board Member, I pride myself on always putting Children First.

Website: None found

Social media: Facebook

Latanya Peterson

Age: 38

Candidate's family: Husband- John daughter's Kaitlyn-12 and Kelsey- 8

Occupation: Educator

Education: Masters of Science - Management and Administration for Educational Programs Bachelors of Arts in English

Political experience: President of Joseph E. Lee Republican Club, State of Florida Director of Engagement for the Republican National Committee, 1st Vice President for Duval Teachers United

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Helping make my community better than the way I found it.

What do you see as the top three issues in this race?

Parental Choice 
School Safety- Transportation, technology, school grounds
Community Engagement

How can you help voters in a way that others running for this office cannot? 

As a professional educator, I have a Master's in Management and Administration for Educational programs. Having been in education for over 10 years, I have the experience of how to take Clay County to the next level with regards to education. Our families deserve the best we have to offer and I am the one. 

What would you hope to be remembered for accomplishing after serving in this office? 

As a professional educator, I would like for families to see our transition to a more diverse County that offers opportunities for their children that will open doors that would never have been open in the area of vocational, trade certification, military,college and beyond.


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