All 15 applicants for the Hoover Board of Education stated their case one-by-one before the Hoover City Council during a marathon 5-hour plus interview session in Council Chambers on Monday, April 6.
Some council members said they came away impressed, adding they face a tough choice as they whittle the candidates down to one. The person selected will replace current board president Donna Frazier, who is stepping down effective June 1.
“I was very pleased with the quality and diversity of applicants we interviewed here today,” Councilman John Lyda said. Of the 15 candidates seeking the school board position, seven were women and three are black.
President Jack Wright said the current plan is to select the new school board member during the April 20 council meeting, though that could be extended. Wright and Lyda also said they were impressed that three educators are among the applicants.Currently, there is no one with education as a career serving on the board, they said.
“We have a tough choice to make,” Wright said after the interviews. “We have several great candidates, but can only select one school board member.”
Wright said he plans to talk one-on-one with each city council member, asking them to give him their top three choices. The panel will then whittle the top vote-getters down to one.
Here is a look at the candidates interviewed on April 6, in order of when they appeared before the City Council:
1. CURT POSEY
About the Candidate: Posey has a 7-year-old child at Bluff Park Elementary and says he was inspired in part to run after the city was divided over a controversial rezoning plan “that landed us on the 5 o’clock news.”
The plan sparked creation of the Bluff Park United group, and led the Hoover school board to drop the rezoning plan. Posey is currently a supervisor and audio visual engineer at Children's of Alabama. The most pivotal moment in Posey’s interview is when Lyda questioned whether Posey’s “outspoken” criticism of the proposed rezoning plan would affect his ability to consider such a matter in the future as a board member.
“I’m willing to consider the right rezoning plan,” Posey answered. “We’ve got to look into the future as Hoover continues to grow. The problem was with that plan. I don’t feel what was put on the table fixed the problem.”
2. RONALD F. BRADSTREET
About the candidate: Bradstreet lives on Southview Drive in Hoover and has no children in city schools. Bradstreet is a retired Army major who entered the military at age 21 in 1967 and served two tours of duty in Vietnam before being honorably discharged in 1971. He taught JROTC at Ramsay High School in Birmingham for 14 years before retiring in 2014. Bradstreet is a substitute teacher in Hoover city schools.
Bradstreet says effective communication channels and feedback are the keys to success in Hoover public schools. Channels of communication he stresses include town hall meetings, focus groups, the school system website, email, social media and post-board meetings.
“I think the No. 1 challenge we face in Hoover schools is transparency and better communication with shareholders,” Bradstreet told the council.
3. KATIE MCCARTHY KING
About the candidate: King has spent the last year completing her educational doctoral degree in educational leadership at Samford University. Prior to that, King was assistant principal at Prince of Peace Catholic School and John Carroll Catholic School. King lives on Persimmon Place and has been a resident of Hoover for 18 years.
The biggest moment in her 20-minute interview came near the end when Lyda asked why she and her husband opted to put their kids in private school instead of Hoover public schools.
"What kind of message would it send to the community if we appoint someone who chooses not to put her children in city schools on the board?”
Responded King: “We chose to provide our children with a faith-based education which our kids could not get in Hoover City Schools. There are a number of Hoover residents who don’t have their children in city schools but still contribute to the tax base. I hope that citizens would be able to look beyond that.”
4. SHELLEY SHAW
About the candidate: Shaw is on the executive board at Rocky Ridge Elementary School where she has previously served as president. She volunteers at her children's schools, Spain Park High School and Rocky Ridge. She has a bachelor's degree in communications from Auburn University.
Shaw lives on Meadow Woods Drive and has been a resident of Hoover for 14 years. She has two children in Hoover City Schools. She is active in the Spain Park Band Parent Association and is a member of Shades Mountain Baptist Church.
Shaw told the council the biggest issues the Hoover school system faces are how to deal with the surge of new students moving into the city and the superintendent search.
5. JILL GANUS VEITCH
About the candidate: Ganus Veitch is a former Jefferson County Judge who is now an assistant district attorney in Tuscaloosa County. Her husband, Bill Veitch, served 10 years on the Hoover Board of Education from 2002 to 2012. He opted not to seek a third 5-year term in 2012.
In her application, Ganus Veitch cited her career as a child advocate as making her the best candidate as a school board member. She served seven years on the Bessemer Domestic Violence Task Force and is currently on the Tuscaloosa Domestic Violence Task Force. She also served on the YMCA Hoover board of directors over the past five years.
The most pivotal moment of Ganus Veitch’s interview came when she was asked how she would separate herself from the previous 10-year tenure on the board of her husband Bill Veitch.
“I love my husband, but I was Jill Ganus the child advocate before I met Bill,” she said. “We are definitely two different individuals.”
6. CHRISTINE BAIN
About the candidate: Bain is a certified elementary teacher with 13 years of experience in early childhood and elementary education. She has a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Montevallo and a bachelor's degree elementary education from Birmingham-Southern College.
She lives on Russet Crest Lane and has been a Hoover resident for 11 years. She has two children in Hoover City Schools. She is active in church children's ministries and is also a Girl Scout Troop Leader.
Bain says she was drawn into the race in part out of concern over the proposed school rezoning plan that generated controversy.
“The rezoning plan was not researched well before it was presented to the public,” Bain said.
7. LAURA KLECKLEY
About the candidate: Kleckley is a compliance engineer with Alagasco. She lives on Steward's Glen and has been a resident of Hoover for 11 years. She has three children currently in the Hoover school system: a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old both at Berry Middle School and a 7-year-old at Greystone Elementary.
Kleckley attended Auburn University and studied Civil Engineering. Before working with Alagasco, she worked as a senior civil engineer for Jefferson County. She has volunteered with the Service Guild of Birmingham, as a Brownie Troop Leader and at Greystone Elementary in various capacities.
Quote: "The most important responsibility a school board member has is to each and every HCS student. It is a member's responsibility to make sure that every student graduates from HCS well-educated and fully prepared to further their educations or enter the work force."
8. DOMINICK WALLACE
About the candidate: Wallace is currently the managing director at Wallace Capital Fund, LLC and has a bachelor's degree and master's degree from the University of Virginia.
Wallace lives on Laurel View Drive and has been a resident of Hoover for 10 years. Wallace has one child at Rocky Ridge Elementary School and is involved with Birmingham Business Alliance and Business Network International.
Wallace told the board his financial expertise in helping clients raise capital would make him an effective board member.
”I believe I can help bridge the gap between the educational community and the business community on the board,” Wallace said. “I want to foster an era of cooperation on the Hoover school board.”
9. WALTER COLLIER
About the candidate: Collier is a Key Accounts Manager at Shell Oil Company. He lives on Creekside Loop and has been a resident of Hoover for nine years. Collier has an 11-year-old who attends Brock's Gap Elementary and a 5-year-old who will attend Trace Crossings in the fall.
Collier attended Jackson State University and previously worked with Philip Morris USA as a TSM/Sales Development Associate. He has also been an active member on the YMCA Hoover branch board of directors since August of 2013.
“I want to bring nontraditional ideas such as developing mentoring programs to help teachers," Collier said.
10. CHARLES EUGENE FULLER
About the candidate: Fuller is the owner of REMTECH, Inc., an aerospace and computer technology company. He lives on Founders Park Drive and has been a resident of Hoover for nine years. Fuller has three grandchildren currently attending Hoover City Schools including a 10-year-old at Gwin Elementary, a 13-year-old at Simmons Middle School and a 7-year-old at Bluff Park Elementary.
He and his company developed an application called TimeMAPS, a web-based program to enhance the teaching and learning of financial literacy for students and adults. The program is currently used at several local high schools including Spain Park.
Quote: "I believe my experience with life and business would bring a new and different element to the Board. Being an advocate for the children is a primary concern. I would like to support the use of technology to enhance the teaching/learning experience."
11. SCARLETT NAFTEL
About the candidate: Naftel, who has lived in Hoover nearly nine years, lives on Napier Drive and has a 7 year-old child at Green Valley Elementary School. She is a former program manager at UAB who became a stay-at-home mother in September 2007 after having her child.
Naftel says the most critical issues facing Hoover city schools are busing, mandatory breakfasts for all students, large student population in both city high schools, maintaining the budget.
Quote: The most important responsibilities of a school board member are “to represent the people of the community, listen to their concerns, make sure their voices are heard, maintain the quality and integrity of our system.”
12. LONITA WALKER-MEDE
About the candidate: Walker-Mede is currently employed at Mede & Mede, Attorneys at Law. She has a bachelor's degree from Jacksonville State University and a Juris Doctorate Degree from Miles Law School.
Walker lives in Lake Point Lane. She is a volunteer at the Birmingham City Schools Career Fair and a member of the Ronald McDonald House Board. She is also an educational career prep advisor for Huffman High School.
Quote: "I believe that I can contribute to the Board with my skills and versatility to see the opinions and views of many individuals. My background has exposed to me to various individuals from various income levels."
13. SEAN GREHALVA
About the candidate: Grehalva, of Regal Circle, has lived in Hoover for six years, and is employed as an auto services support specialist at Regions Bank on Parkway Office Circle. He has a son who will soon be old enough to attend Hoover City Schools, and says a desire to play an active role in helping the city continue to provide high-quality education sparked him to seek the position.
Quote: "I have a vested interest in making sure that he attends the best schools possible, as there is no greater influence on success than a quality education. Hoover should be a model city for our state and should be ranked with national prominence. To achieve this goal, a neutral and unbiased view is essential."
14. STEPHANIE B. TURNER
About the candidate: Turner lives on Park Avenue and has lived in Hoover for three years. She has four children in Hoover City Schools. One attends Hoover High School, one attends Simmons Middle School and two attend Bluff Park Elementary.
Turner graduated from UAB in 1995 with a degree in nursing. She is currently an assistant professor at the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing.
Turner, who has spent 13 years teaching in the community college and university level, says her education background would be an asset on the school board.
“I have a passion for education,” she said.
15. DENNIS QUIRK
About the candidate:
Quirk lives on Ross Avenue and has lived in Hoover for two and a half years. He has three children in Hoover City Schools, two 6-year-olds at Deer Valley Elementary School a 11-year-old at Brocks Gap Elementary. He also has a 36 year old child. Quirk graduated in 1977 from Carnegie-Mellon University. He is a board member of the Hoover Softball Association and a library volunteer at Deer Valley. He was formerly employed by the United States Steel Corporation and is currently retired.
Quote: “I believe that the school board must be transparent in everything. The school board must be proactive in reaching out for public views and issues. I would like the school board to be out in the schools, in all areas of Hoover and at any opportunities to partner with the community or business leaders to build relationships.”