Candidates in Scottsboro’s municipal elections gathered for a forum hosted by WWIC Radio, the Jackson County Sentinel and Full Que Productions to answer questions about local issues before the election on Aug. 25.

The forum was held on Aug. 18 in the auditorium of the Page Administration Building and featured candidates for City Council, Board of Education and Mayor of the City of Scottsboro.

The event started with the candidates for Scottsboro Board of Education Place 4 and 5 answering questions submitted by members of the community. Patrick Woosley ran unopposed for Place 4, because of this, Woosley only gave an opening statement.

“I’m not a politician at all,” stated Woosley, going on to emphasize how he was running for a position on the school board because of his family.

“Serving the community as a school board member comes with many responsibilities, especially the well-being of Scottsboro’s students, teachers and parents,” said Julie Gentry, the incumbent representative for Place 5 said in her opening statement. “A schoolboard member must always be open to new ideas and never have an agenda.”

“Now we’re living in different times,” said Gary Speers. “As many of us have heard the three R’s of writing, reading and arithmetic now we’re into the three W’s the wearing of masks, the washing of hands and social distancing. Those are the issues we’re facing now.”

After their opening statements candidates were asked a series of questions and given a minute to answer each.

The two candidates outlined similar plans to foster open communication between parents and members of the school board, while stressing the need for strong leadership moving into an uncertain school year.

When asked about online education in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two described distinctly different visions of what they felt Scottsboro City Schools would look like in coming years.

“It is a different time,” said Speers. The former principal outlined a plan that included a drastic push towards adopting online learning.

Speers urged that all education should integrate technology and said that he felt students would eventually have learning experiences entirely online, with minimal face-to-face contact with teachers and administrators.

Gentry, however, cautioned that such an approach may leave some students behind.

“I think we will always see online learning from now on,” said Gentry in regard to online learning in Scottsboro. “I know it is probably productive for some students, they thrive on that, some students do not. They need the one-on-one of the teacher in front of them. I was that student.”

Both candidates for Place 5 are running on decades of education experience.

Speers worked in various Scottsboro City schools until he retired as principal of Brownwood Elementary School after the school was closed in 2018.

During his tenure as the principal of Brownwood Elementary School, Speers mentioned that he was able to help the school achieve an A rating from the Alabama Board of Education two years in a row in 2018 and 2019.

The incumbent representative for Place 4, Gentry noted that during her time on the school board they were able to take a $1 million deficit for the district and turn it into a $6 million positive balance.

Scottsboro’s municipal election will be held on Aug. 25 and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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