BoE Post 2 candidate Bacallao: ‘I bring conservative values to education, finance’


[The following is a compilation of letters from Fayette County Board of Education Post 2 candidate Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao.]

Hi, I’m Mary Kay Bacallao. I have been paying close attention to the Fayette County School Board for the past 8 years. I have read just about every article written about the school board in that time frame. Two years ago, we lost our long time superintendent, Dr. John DeCotis. In September of last year, we took another big hit when we lost the late Dr. Sam Tolbert. Since then, many of the sound policies enacted by our school board have fallen by the wayside. The Fayette County School Board is in desperate need of a course correction. I know what needs to be done to get us back on track.

I want to balance our budget to sustain quality education; I want to retain our great teachers; and I’m disappointed that a majority of the Board gave away your right to vote for four of our five Board members.

I cherish our well respected educators… I would keep the monetary award for those rare teachers who achieve the National Board Teacher Certification, instead of making that one of the very few budget cuts in the midst of a top-heavy administration.

I believe we need objective, measurable, and transparent criteria before making school closures.

I have been, and am now working in education as a full professor at Mercer who clearly understands how to prepare our college-bound students, as well as students who will pursue other career paths.

I bring conservative values to education, finance, and a sound organization to meet our standards for the next four years and beyond.

Twenty four years of practical experience in math, science and technology education equips me with the background knowledge needed to make wise, well thought out, and sound decisions for our school system.

For those of you who voted for me 4 years ago, thank you. I appreciate your support. If I did not earn your vote before, I would appreciate the opportunity to earn it now. I am still here. Four years older, four years wiser, and four years more humble. My husband of 23 years, Aldo and I have 3 teenagers at home, and one 11 year old, including one Whitewater graduate and three still attending Fayette County Schools.

When I drop my children off at school, I tell them three things:Love your teachers, love your classmates, and glorify God in all you do.

If you elect me as a school board member, my three goals will be to enact zero based budgeting, support and strengthen our teaching force, and vote for sound policies based on conservative principles.I am running a second time because I am persistent when it comes to the future of our children. I am here to listen. I would like to meet you personally.

I believe that every board member impacts education for the entire county, so every board member should be accountable to all the voters in the county. Together we can accomplish so much more. If elected, I will seek to include all people groups. United we are strong, I value input from each and every parent and community member.

The school board approved a budget for next year with 177 million in expenditures and 163 million in revenue. Next year, our fund balance is projected to be around 800,000. The current plan expends 14 million in reserves.

In times past, we have actually had to borrow money from SunTrust to pay our teachers. That doesn’t give anyone any confidence. We want to have confidence in the financial decisions of the school board and spending our reserves does not instill financial confidence— especially since we don’t know the budget details.

If elected, I would ensure that an Excel Spreadsheet of every item spent in the budget was made public. I will join with others on the board and support zero based budgeting.Not just going by what has been spent in the past but looking at the budget in a whole new light, making sure that all the expenditures are in line with our mission: Excellence in education for all our students.

We need to prepare our students to live in a world filled with technology. Technology should be used to make teaching and learning more efficient and more effective. The internet can be a source of real world data for math, primary source documents for social studies, online collaboration for literacy or virtual experiments for science.

Computers should be used to store digital portfolios of student work projects such as digital stories or documentaries.

I support interactive teacher and student presentation tools and electronic response systems for assessment.

I would like our teachers and students to be on the cutting edge, creatively producing new educational applications of technology, instead of passively consuming technologies designed by others.

If elected, I will vote for policies on the Fayette County School Board that advance the effective and efficient use of technology for increased thinking and learning.

Mary Kay Bacallao
Candidate for Posst 2, Board of Education
Brooks, Ga.