Alachua County School Board

ALACHUA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD (there are three open seats on the Alachua County School Board: District 1, District 3 and District 5. While candidates represent a specific district, these races are voted on at-large by county voters.)

These nonpartisan races will appear on the August primary ballot. If no candidate receives a majority of votes cast, the top two candidates will advance to the general election. 


DISTRICT 1 (includes the outer portions of western, northern and eastern Alachua County, including Archer, Newberry, High Springs, Alachua, LaCrosse,Waldo and part of Gainesville.)

  District 1


Tina Certain 

Tina Certain is a nonpartisan candidate running for Alachua County School Board, District 1.

This candidate has not responded to the News4Jax survey.

Campaign website: tinacertain.com


April Griffin

Age: 53

Candidate's family: Husband, Kevin Griffin; Sons: Stephen, Thomas and Andrew Griffin

Occupation: School Board Member

Education: BA Education, University of Florida

Political experience: I've been an elected School Board Member since 2010

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Strong student achievement through innovative teaching, programs and classrooms

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

1) Increasing student achievement and equity at all levels, and among all ethnic groups across the district. 
2) School, student and teacher safety.
3) Facilities needs across the district.

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

I bring experience and leadership. I have been actively involved in our schools for over 30 years as a teacher, parent volunteer and now a school board member. I am a Certified Board Member through the Florida School Boards Assoc. (FSBA)) which means I've completed over 90 hours of training in Boardsmanship, School Finance and School Policy and just completed my year as President of FSBA. I helped start the our district's Community School, worked with the Chamber to develop our Career Discoveries Day, Helped our Take Stock in Children Scholarship Program grow from 120 students to over 350, mentored Take Stock students since 2011, and initiated our annual Student Government Breakfast. These are just a few of the programs I have brought to our district. I have visited every school every year since being elected in 2010. I know the issues we face in our district as well as in the state.

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

I Always kept the students' best interests as my focus and believed that Every student can be successful!

Website: April4Schools.com

Social media: Facebook / Twitter


DISTRICT 3 (includes a western portion of Gainesville)

  District 3


Judy DeJesus McNeil

Age: 53

Candidate's family: Husband and mother of two

Occupation: community volunteer

Education: Bachelor of Science Elementary Education, Masters in Educational Leadership endorsed in middle school science and gifted

Political experience: Alachua County Education Association (ACEA) Union Representative for 6 years. Engaged in School Advisory Council, and vocal at Alachua County School Board meetings which can be view at the School Board of Alachua County website: On January 16, 2018, video starting at 35:00 I addressed the board about equity and equal access for student programs in higher level math and reading programs also the board's unjust hiring practice. February 6, 2018, video starting at 51:00. Discussing lack of sufficient ESOL endorsed teachers and again at 1:00:49 discussing lack of endorsed Gifted teachers. March 20, 2018. I addressed the board about services for students with disabilities. video starting at 40:36. June 5, 2018 I addressed the School Board of Alachua County about welcoming all students equitably as part of school safety and I also talked about vapor and e-cigarettes since it was school safety month, video begins at 53:14/ 1:30

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Serving students equitably with access and accountability for all stakeholders.

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

1. Equity
2. Safety/discipline
3. Curriculum

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

As a teacher for over 20 years in both the private and public sectors, I have experienced first-hand the ineffectiveness of our school board in working with specific student groups and how they affect the services given to all students. As a parent this concerns me. I am running to be your next school board member because I have a passion to reach and teach all students and work with educators and elected officials on behalf of your child.

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

A servant of the people that worked with all stakeholders in providing a quality education for students to pursue their God given dreams.

Website: None found

Social media: Facebook / Twitter


Gunnar Paulson 

Gunnar Paulson is a nonpartisan candidate running for Alachua County School Board, District 3. He was first elected to the position in 2010 and has been re-elected since. He is the current board chairman.

This candidate has not responded to the News4Jax survey.

Campaign website: gunnar4schoolboard.org


April Tisher

Age: 41

Candidate's family: Husband-Christoper Tisher, step-daughter Olivia Tisher (20), sons Andrew Tisher (14) Nicholas Tisher (11) and daughter Samantha (7)

Occupation: Writer and account execuitive for Irving Publications (publishes Giggle and Wellness 360 Magazines)

Education: Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington

Political experience: Member of the Junior League of Gainesville's State Public Affairs Committee for 4 years.

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Fresh prespective to be a parents voice on the board

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

school safety (including mental health) for all
racial disparities in Alachua county
facilities improvement and expansion (and the funds to do so)

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

I can be a voice for parents on the board to advocate for ALL children. I am the only candidate with my own children currently attending Alachua county public schools; one in elementary school, one in middle school and one in high school. I am plugged in to what is going on in the classroom, in the schools through the PTA and at home with my own children.

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

I would hope to be remembered for being a voice and advocate for all parents and their students. I would hope to be seen as a board member that everyone can relate to and can truly represent those who elected me. I would like mental health issues to have been effectively addressed and for school safety to have greatly improved. I would like more career and technical opportunities to have been added to schools all over the district and for extracurricular activities, especially at the middle school level, to have much more district support. 

Website: None found

Social media: Facebook 


DISTRICT 5 (includes Micanopy and a southern portion of Gainesville)

 

  District 5


Rob Hyatt

Age: 66

Candidate's family: Wife Lou Hyatt, two children, two grandchildren

Occupation: Retired Teacher

Education: Bachelors, Masters, and Specialist degrees from the University of Florida

Political experience: Serving first term on Alachua County School Board

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Experience AND Results

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

*Closing academic achievement gap
*Providing modern, high-quality facilities throughout the County
*Retention and recruitment of outstanding teachers

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

I taught in Florida's public schools for 38 years. I know both the rewards and challenges of teaching.
As a lifelong music educator I am committed to a well-rounded curriculum and will never settle for only teaching to a test.
My experience shaping agendas and building consensus is needed.

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

My ideal legacy would be keeping the District moving forward during difficult times for public education and building a firm foundation for future generations.

Website: ReElectRob.com

Social media: Facebook / Twitter


Paul Wolfe

Age: 17

Candidate's family: 

Occupation: Student

Education: Diploma from Buchholz High School

Political experience: None

Summarize your political platform in 10 words or less.

Increased opportunity for all students and teachers.

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

In this race, and in Alachua County, there are many issues which have to be addressed. The most important is securing the safety of our students, which efforts have been below par up to this point especially in the face of recent tragedies. I feel that we should continue to increase our partnership with the Alachua County Sheriff's office to provide more resource officers on site at each of our schools, as well as making access much more difficult for those wishing to do harm. This can be as simple as locking and securing exterior doors that are otherwise little used, and a more complex solution would be to install identification systems on each entrance used by staff so that it is only they who can get inside. Another important issue would be our school facilities. Many of our elementary schools flood during heavy rains, a common occurrence in Florida, and little has been done to stop this other than using sandbags as a temporary fix. The Sales Tax initiative in our county will give us resources to speed up our facilities improvements time table, but I have firm belief in the idea that we have the resources available to improve our schools in our current budget, it just will take a great deal of time to accomplish those improvements. We also need to consider alternative methods to decrease overcrowding in our elementary schools, many of which are at or above their intended capacities. Instead of attempting to develop existing plots of land, or purchasing them for a great deal of money, our school board should be considering one of the most obvious solutions: building up. We should be taking advantage of all space available around each existing facility before we consider sprawling out even more and stretching our budget increasingly thin. The final top issue in this election is teacher compensation. Alachua County teachers are some of the lowest paid in the state, with a teacher having taught 25 years plus having a PhD earning only $77,000 in our most recent fiscal year. Our teachers suffer on their insurance plans as well, being forced to pay out of pocket for eye and dental care, or paying additional money monthly for those coverages to be added to their plans. If elected, I plan to increase teacher salaries by 4.5% each year for four years as well as give teachers the option to find medical coverage in the open market through offering stipends to be used for that purpose.

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

Having graduated in the Buchholz Class of 2018, I feel that my current and in-depth knowledge of the situations students and teachers face, as well as having experienced many of the things discussed on the campaign trail, puts me in a strategic position to help my constituency more because of the first-hand knowledge of the problems faced in our schools that I have.

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

I would hope to be remembered for improving our school facilities, bringing them into the 21st century, thus providing an equal opportunity for all to succeed. I would also hope to be remembered for increasing teacher pay to bring us more on par with the rest of the state. The final thing I would hope to be remembered for would be negotiating with the State of Florida to facilitate better school security programs and overall increases in funding for education.

Website: paulwolfe4ac.com

Social media: Facebook 

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