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District 5: 2018 County Commission Candidate Survey Responses

Strong Schools asked individuals running for Sumner County Commission for their responses to the following questions. The responses for those that replied are below. (The primary is May 1 2018, with early voting currently underway.)

1.    How long have you lived in Sumner County?

Baker Ring:

“30 years; I am an 8th generation Sumner Countian.”

Danny Sullivan:

“I have lived is Sumner County my entire life.”

2.    Do you (or did you) have children or grandchildren in Sumner County Schools?

Baker Ring:

“No. 3 nieces and nephews attend now.”

Danny Sullivan:

“My daughter Katherine graduated from SCHS in 2014.  I retired from the SCS system in June 2017.  My last placement was Principal of Union STEM and Demonstration School from 2008-2017.  Regardless of a citizen of Sumner County having a student in the school system, we must have the mindset of growing our County and our future with stellar schools.”

3.    What is the best way to increase school security, and if additional funding was needed, how would you provide the funding?

Baker Ring:

“I have supported hiring SRO’s and adding security to schools.”

Danny Sullivan:

“We are moving in the right direction with more secure entryways.  We have an SRO in every HS and MS.  I believe we need to continue to add SRO’s into the elementary schools as quickly as possible.  We voted to hire 5 this week in the special called CC meeting.  As a former Principal, the safety of my students was always my top priority.  In my opinion, guns are not the issue.  The issue is what our kids are exposed to and the lack of communication skills/people skills with the increase of technology platforms.  Mental health issues and a collaboration of team work in our schools with guidance counselors and SRO’s is imperative at the elementary school level.  We teach our kids that if you see something or know something you say something.  I believe we must create an individualized plan for each SRO at each school on how and what they will do to solve the needs of their buildings.  Looking for vulnerable areas of security and identifying which students need to helped or may be students who need mentoring or guidance through the years.”

4.    Why should someone vote for you? What unique strengths would you bring to the commission?

Baker Ring:

“I have served for 8 years and work to bring commissioners together on issues where they differ.”

Danny Sullivan:

“I have 29 years experience in the school system as a coach, teacher and administrator.  I have lived and worked in Sumner County my whole life.  I care deeply about our County and want to see us continue to prosper and thrive.  We are a destination people search for when they consider moving here.”

5.    What’s the best way to address long-term population growth in Sumner County?

 Baker Ring:

“We have purchased land for new schools. When we are able to put controls on development, we should look at doing that, ie: PUDS and similar.”

Danny Sullivan:

“We must look at continued infrastructure improvements and funding.  School additions and new school building construction as needed.  We also need to be good stewards of the land we have.  I am not a fan of the thousands of apartments that have popped up in the last two years across our County.”

6.    Regarding funding education, are any options “on” or “off the table” to meet budgetary needs? Why?

Baker Ring:

“Education is one of most important priorities. I will support improvements in education if they make sense. We can’t have an open checkbook for any department, including education.”

Danny Sullivan:

“As a former SCS educator, I am 100% on board for having the best school system in the State.  Through my career as an educator, I have seen much done with little funding and times where money was spent and positions filled that were not needed.  We need to be mindful of how tax dollars are spent and make sure educational dollars are not being wasted.  We have come leaps and bounds with technology in the classrooms over the past 5 to 6 years.  I want to see us continue to spend more on and in our individual schools in the trenches, to have a top notch school district.”

7.    Do you agree or disagree that Sumner County School teachers are compensated appropriately? Why?

Baker Ring:

“Sumner county teachers are not compensated appropriately in comparison to similar school districts in Middle Tennessee.”

Danny Sullivan:

“I believe our teachers, administrators and support staff are underpaid.  We are putting our trust in them to educate and protect our children 8 hours a day.  17 years as a principal, I was on the same pay formula all 17 years.  Imagine the changes and challenges over the years.  Many years my pay increased 1% which was less than the cost of living.”

8.    Do you agree or disagree that Sumner County School staff are compensated appropriately? Why?

Baker Ring:

“Classified staff need to have their pay raised. Some of them have a take home pay of less than $600 a month. The people who help educate your children shouldn’t be paid less than the people who ask you if you fries with your order.”

Danny Sullivan:

“No, our support staff help serve the needs of our students and most make less than they could waiting tables at a restaurant.  A raise was give a couple of years ago and it did make it a bit better.”

9.    Do Sumner County schools have adequate facilities to meet the educational needs of students? Why?

Baker Ring:

“We need to have a program for building new schools. The work that we have done in the past few years has been good, however, the county is growing so fast, that we need to speed up our building program.”

Danny Sullivan:

“Currently – Yes…We are keeping up and improving with funding to build more additions and reduce the number of portable classrooms.”

10. What are the three greatest needs, if any, do you see in our schools? How can the Sumner County Commission help address those needs?

Baker Ring:

1.    Increase pay for classified personnel.

2.    Improve access to technology.

3.    Increase parental and community involvement.

“Classified staff need to have their pay raised. Some of them have a take home pay of less than $600 a month. The people who help educate your children shouldn’t be paid less than the people who ask you if you fries with your order.”

Danny Sullivan:

1.    Keeping up with growth in our County with our building program.

2.    Teacher, Administrator and support staff competitive salaries.

3.    School Security and funding for security measures to keep our students and staff safe.

“As our county continues to be one of the fastest growing Counties in the State of TN, we have to continue to make a our building program a top priority.”