Pitts would seek community’s support

Published 1:08 am Saturday, October 23, 2010

This is the final installment of a three-part series in which the Clanton Advertiser interviewed candidates for political offices with local implications. Below are responses from Louise Pitts, who is running for superintendent of education. Candidate passages are presented verbatim but may have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: Why did you decide to enter education, and why are you running for superintendent of education?

I’ve been in education for 35 years. I love my job; I love the children. I think I still make a difference in the lives of children. I think through my 35 years, I’ve got a lot of experience to offer to Chilton County, to all the students in the county. I think I can make a difference. Right now, we are facing some tough economic times.

The financial picture for all school systems in the state, not just this one, looks pretty tight. What ideas do you have that will help our system weather this economic downturn?

I’ve been very successful at Jemison Elementary School with our budget. I have great fundraising activities to help bring money into our school system, and I believe our county is going to have to draw more on the community for financial support. My husband has a business, a business that has been in our family many years, so it helps me with that business edge of knowing where you have to cut funds and focus on the priorities for the business. Educating our students is the business of the Chilton County education system, and so we’ve got to make sure we are using our money wisely and making the cuts where necessary.

Bullying has been a major concern in the county recently. What would you do specifically to address that in the school system?

I think our school system started off this year with the new idea that it’s a team effort. It’s not just left up to parents at home to talk with their children. This year, Jay Banks came into the county and did a workshop with all the teachers. Then he came to each school and did small group settings with the students, with teachers and the faculty again. I think we need to continue that education with our faculty and with our students, but we need to carry it over to our parents also, bringing them in and making sure they understand the terminology, the definitions and what they can do to help.

Test scores are always going to be a way to measure success. What are your thoughts on getting us to where we need to be?

We’ve got to look at the scores. We’ve got to get the parents involved, on board, and tell the parents what role they can play. I’m a firm believer that the foundation to make the scores a success starts with the elementary setting, that we get all our elementary school parents involved in education and let them understand that they are also part of the team.

In the past, a lot of policy decisions—for example, cell phone use and uniforms—have been made on a school-by-school basis. What are your thoughts on that style of making policies?

I think that the principal meetings need to be more frequent and that great discussions can be done where that is just the topic. A lot of times during principal meetings, we have so much information coming at us, and it’s hard for us to have a good discussion dealing with just one topic. But also, I believe we have community schools, and we need parents involved in these discussions and to help decide about uniforms, if that is going to be the appropriate step for their school.