Sam Tolbert in January will replace Lee Wright in the Post 5 seat on the Fayette County Board of Education after his successful election bid in November. Aside from his experience in academics and in the corporate world, just who is Sam Tolbert and what does he think about public education and his role
on the school board?
Tolbert is a former senior manager who most recently worked as an adjunct professor of mathematics at Gordon College in Barnesville.
“I believe that with my combination of educational and business experience, I can provide the tools to organize, develop, and effectively manage a workable budget that will create a new level of efficiency for the board. I also pledge to be accessible and a good listener to the public,” Tolbert said recently.
But what about the real or perceived differences of opinion and approach that surfaced between board members occasionally during the past few years, differences that often ended in 3-2 votes, with Wright and board members Janet Smola and Terri Smith constituting the “3” and Marion Key and Bob Todd as the “2”?
“It’s okay to disagree, but to reach consensus we need to understand the issues that could be major or minor,” Tolbert said. “I have an elected obligation to understand what the voters are looking for and the things I can do to help them have a feel and an understanding of the school system.”
Tolbert said he wants to work with school system employees and parents to voice their ideas and opinions, noting that he wants to understand the issues affecting each group.
“I’m retired, so all I have is time to listen,” he said with a chuckle.
Tolbert said he wants to know what parents think about the various offerings available at Fayette schools, adding that Fayette, like schools nationwide, needs to get a lot stronger in math, science and English.
Tolbert also addressed a past bout with cancer. Responding to questions about its status, Tolbert said his doctor indicated that the cancer was treatable, adding that the treatment was working and the prognosis was good.
“Some of the tumors shrunk, others are gone,” he said.
In one of his previous jobs Tolbert developed and implemented a wide range of computer applications requiring both computer hardware and software for business performance improvement. Tolbert said he would use his background to accomplish a thorough statistical review of the available school system data.
Tolbert said he also planned to do a pro forma spreadsheet to look at the budget and key indicators affecting funds from the state and assemble a minimum three- to five-year funding-related forecast.
Tolbert said Comptroller Laura Brock is central to his gaining an understanding of the various budget-related issues.
“I want to spend time with Laura, to understand her system across all budget areas,” Tolbert said.
But regardless of the area within the school system being reviewed or addressed, Tolbert said he has relied in various capacities over the years on a simple, personal motto, one that he will bring to the table as member of the Fayette County Board of Education. And the motto: “In God we trust, all others bring data.”
Tolbert’s qualifications/accomplishments include:
• Board member Georgia Tech International Standards & Quality, Southern Tech Center for Quality;
• Conducted continuing educational classes for Georgia Tech, Southern Tech and Dale Carnegie Institute;
• Board member and lead auditor for Georgia Oglethorpe Award committee;
• Awarded Pioneer of the Year Award by Georgia Oglethorpe Committee for Organizational Turn Around at Scientific Atlanta Instrumentation Division;
• Key member of Rockwell International Management Team forging a documented nationally recognized organizational turnaround in a defense business Managed Quality Standards Division for major government contracts;
• Developed and conducted training programs directed at organizational and personnel performance enhancement;
• Developed and implemented a wide range of computer applications requiring both computer hardware and software for business performance improvement; and
• Wrote his thesis and dissertation on organization improvement processes.