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District 8: 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?

Mike McVey:

“60+ years.”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“I have lived in Hendersonville practically my entire life.”

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

Mike McVey:

I attended Millersville Elementary. I graduated from Bush’s Chapel Elementary, Gallatin Junior High, and Gallatin Senior High. My children attended Lakeside Elementary, Howard Elementary, Hawkins Middle School, Hendersonville High and Merrol Hyde Magnet school.”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“I am a product of Sumner County Schools as well as my two boys plus my sister, nieces and nephew.”

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

Mike McVey:

“There is no one simple answer to this question. Security is a process that requires assessment and evaluation. Primary threat assessment in Sumner County is best determined by the Sheriff’s Office. Having been a County Commissioner previously, I actually have a record on this subject. I advocated and voted for the creation of the first SRO program within the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office. As to the matter of funding, the question is “how would you provide the funding?” The simple answer is, I can’t. No one person can provide funding for anything unless they are willing to fund something entirely out of their own pocket. Funding is provided by a majority consensus. Officials backed by Strong Schools have demonstrated that their primary funding mechanism is raising taxes without regard to actual necessity nor consideration for the general population of the citizens of this county. Strong Schools looks out for the interest of the Director of Schools. Sitting as a member of the County Commission is an honor and bestows an obligation to be a trustworthy steward who looks after the welfare of all citizens living in Sumner County. This includes weighing the relative needs of the school system, ambulance service, Highway Department, Sheriff’s Office, individual citizens, and other factors too numerous to quantify. As a County Commissioner I must also look out for the interest of the widow in the northern part of the county who is living on social security and just had her husband pass away. I also have to look out for the working poor who make just over the benefits limit and are struggling to make ends meet. Needless to say, there are working poor who are on benefits that must also contend with any property tax increase. A 23% property tax increase may not sound like much to someone making over $100,000 a year. A family making $50,000 or less is a different matter”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“We should work towards a SRO in every school.  While I applaud the actions of the Commission recently, we need to push forward to fund the remaining officers needed.”

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

Mike McVey:

“I have served my country in the U.S. Army as both an enlisted man (Infantry) and as an Officer (Armor). I have previous experience as a Sumner County Commissioner. Advocated and voted for the creation of the first SRO program within the Sumner County Sheriff’s Office. Advocated and voted for the first usage of a geothermal heating system within the Sumner County School System. Initiated, advocated and voted for the first (and to the best of my recollection the ONLY) direct county to classroom teacher appropriation whereby classroom teachers were given funds to spend on their classroom as THEY saw fit. Fought against selling the county hospital. After my term the hospital was sold and ultimately went into bankruptcy. Retired from the State of Tennessee where I have worked in Human Services, Employment Security, Financial Institutions, Commission on Aging, Labor & Workforce Development, and Transportation. I have an Associates degree in Engineering (VSCC) and a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with a minor in Industrial Technology and Military Science (MTSU). I have been a classroom teacher – a Graduate Teaching Assistant at MTSU and as an adjunct faculty teacher for both Volunteer State Community College and Nashville Tech. I tell people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear.”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“Being self-employed, I understand personally about managing a business and a budget and will take that knowledge and apply to the County budget to remain fiscally healthy. As a lifelong resident, I have seen a lot of growth and changes in our beautiful county. I want to keep it strong for generations to come.  I will bring my Love of Community Service to this position.”

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

Mike McVey:

“The best the county can do is attempt to react in a responsible manner. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, the County Commission doesn’t really have any appreciable direct control over population growth. Besides the county itself there are seven cities and towns within Sumner County. Anything inside a city limit is controlled by their respective governing body. The county does not control any utilities. It provides funding for schools but all decisions concerning schools are handled by the school system. The county does have a county Highway Department. Both the Highway Department and the school system react to the shifting of the county population. They are not prebuilt for the increasing/shifting population to fill in around.”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“Not all growth is bad and not all growth is good.  We must be responsible with development project approvals and must also consider impact on schools and infrastructure.   We must have a healthy mix of commercial, residential and green space.”

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

Mike McVey:

“All options are ‘on the table.’ Whether those options are accepted or rejected is another matter. I shall now propose some options I would like to see discussed. What is the school system doing to reduce costs and reduce overhead? I mentioned geothermal heating earlier. That was something innovative at the time that was intended to reduce energy costs. Savings generated were immediately available for other projects. At the state, I was instrumental in increasing efficiency and reducing cost via automation. What projects have had a similar effect in the school system?”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“The County Commission and the Board of Education should be proactive in planning for pay increases as the Board of Education is the largest employer in our County.  All options should be considered before any options of raising taxes, which should be a last resort.  But, with the current strong economy, there shouldn’t be a need for a tax increase.”

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

Mike McVey:

“Since the compensation Sumner County School teachers receive is controlled by the Sumner County Board of Education and the Strong Schools supported office holders on that board, I would have to presume that they think our teachers and staff are adequately compensated. Personally, if it were my decision, I would have used as much of the 23% tax increase that Strong Schools proponents on the County Commission passed to give teachers and in-school support staff a larger compensation increase and also allocate more of those funds to the classroom teachers for use in their classrooms. When I went to https://sumnerschools.org/index.php/12-our-district I foound an interesting statement by “Del.” Referring to an article by Fox 17 news, he stated, ‘Nowhere in the report does it mention the countless teachers in our district who spend their own money on their classrooms, which is certainly more representative of the norm in our underfunded school district.’ Perhaps this would be a good time to refer back to one of the bullet points I made previously initiated, advocated and voted for the first (and to the best of my recollection the ONLY) direct county to classroom teacher appropriation whereby classroom teachers were given funds to spend on their classroom as THEY saw fit. For the record, the reason I insisted the funding come directly from the County Commission is because I knew that the School Board would not be obligated to continue that funding even though passing it through the school board would obligate the county to continue giving that additional amount in perpetuity.

Shellie Young Tucker:

“There is room for improvement for teacher pay.  We should look for the best teachers and pay them competitively so they will stay within the system.  Sumner County ranks 8th compared to other neighboring school systems in regards to compensation and insurance benefits.  My research shows the last pay adjustment was in 2014.  It’s past time for a pay increase or at least Cost of Living increase.”

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

Mike McVey:

“As stated in the previous answer to the question above. Since the compensation Sumner County School teachers receive is controlled by the Sumner County Board of Education and the Strong Schools supported office holders on that board, I would have to presume that they think our teachers and staff are adequately compensated.”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“The Support staff is very important part of the school system.  They provide additional support to teachers, administrators, classrooms & students!  Support staff helps schools and classrooms run more smoothly, additional one-on-one instruction plus many other tasks.  Pay increase for support staff will help current staff but will help with longevity in these positions.”

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

Mike McVey:

“This is a question for the School Board to answer. According to State Law and School Board officials, I am not qualified to answer this question.”

Shellie Young Tucker:

“The County Commission along with the Board of Education has worked diligently to reduce the number of portables being used across the county from 70+ to under 10!  Many building projects and renovations across the county are giving schools the space they need for growing communities.”

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?

Mike McVey:

1.    The School Board needs to do everything within their ability to support and empower the classroom teacher.

2.    Federal government, state government, and the local school board need to reduce bureaucratic restrictions hindering the classroom teacher from doing their job.

3.    Quit utilizing a “one size fits all” mentality. Having four tiers does not negate that each child is individually treated as being of one size within that tier. Each child is unique and has unique needs. Stop allowing big book companies to waste teachers’ precious time by forcing them to stick to a curriculum designed more for propaganda and social engineering than essential academic skills.

“Once again, according to State Law and School Board officials, I am not qualified to answer this question. If I were, my answers would be along these lines.”

Shellie Young Tucker:

1.    Safety

2.    Teacher Pay/Retention

“We must do all we can to keep children/teachers/staff safe while at school.  The current County Commission is working to increase the number of SROs but we can’t let up on the gas.  We must push forward to obtain funding needed for the remaining SRO’s.”