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February 6, 2013

Board candidates talk priorities

NORMAN — Visitors to the Professional Educators of Norman’s Town Hall meeting left Tuesday evening knowing a little more about the district’s two candidates for the Norman Board of Education, Seat 3.

According to the Cleveland County Election Board, residents in 13 Norman precincts will be eligible to vote for the third seat on the board, totaling 13,706 eligible voters.

Gary Barksdale and Cindy Nashert gave opening and closing remarks and answered questions posed by an audience of some 30 teachers, Norman Public School administrators and community members.

Prominent themes raised for the candidates’ commentary were school security, the A-F grading system, teacher evaluations and each candidates’ top priorities for NPS if elected.

Barksdale introduced himself as a “lifetime educator” and “Normanite,” detailed how his volunteer efforts have been education-centric and emphasized his career choice being that of an educator over higher-paying alternatives.

Nashert introduced herself as a mother of NPS graduates and 14-year business owner, emphasizing her attention to fiscal responsibility and describing her experiences of community leadership and how her motivation of “giving back” was faith-based.

Over the course of the 40 minute meeting, Nashert and Barksdale did not exhibit marked opposition or disagreement on most topics raised and failed to deliver clear answers on how they would handle policy issues such as the A-F grading system or state-level advocacy for NPS if elected.

Both candidates voiced vehement concerns regarding school safety, with Nashert ultimately opposing arming teachers and Barksdale maintaining his support of arming teachers, though voicing it more moderately than his initial public communication to the school board in January.

“My proposal to the school board is not unusual and is not something other districts haven’t adopted themselves. I don’t claim to be some kind of security expert. I hope to work with those entities that provide security, possibly use military personnel to help us put together safety drills for the kids in schools,” Barksdale said.

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