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John F. Thomas
|John F. Thomas|
|Board member, Muscogee County Board of Education, District 2|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||July 22, 2014|
|First elected||July 22, 2014|
|Bachelor's||University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill|
|Master's||University of Iowa|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Elections
- 3 Campaign themes
- 4 What was at stake?
- 5 About the district
- 6 Recent news
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Thomas earned his B.A. from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He later received an M.A. from the University of Iowa. Thomas currently works as a revenue agent with the Internal Revenue Service.
|Muscogee County School District, District 2 Runoff Election, 4-year term, 2014|
|Nonpartisan||John F. Thomas||80.3%||1,887|
|Nonpartisan||John Wells Incumbent||19.7%||462|
|Source: Georgia Secretary of State, "UNOFFICIAL COUNTY RESULTS," July 22, 2014 These results are unofficial.|
|Muscogee County School District, District 2 General Election, 4-year term, 2014|
|Nonpartisan||John F. Thomas||35.3%||1,449|
|Nonpartisan||John Wells Incumbent||27.6%||1,132|
|Nonpartisan||John "Bart" Steed||26.6%||1,093|
|Source: Georgia Secretary of State, "UNOFFICIAL COUNTY RESULTS," May 20, 2014 These results are unofficial.|
Thomas reported $2,700.00 in contributions and $2,641.53 in expenditures to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, leaving his campaign with $58.47 prior to the election.
Thomas received no official endorsements in this election.
Thomas explained his themes for the 2014 campaign in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer:
Should the school district divide into three regions -- east, west and central -- as proposed by the superintendent?
Superintendent Lewis feels that his zone plan for administration will be more efficient, more economical, more equitable, and above all, more responsive for every school in the system. I support any changes in the administrative system that can provide services for the schools in these ways as long as administration is not becoming more top-heavy at the expense of the classroom experience for teachers and students. I will never support furloughs and layoffs for teachers while simultaneously expending more of the school district budget on Central Administration personnel. If a new organizational chain of command gets the job done better at no additional cost to the district, then yes, I do support his plan.
Should every school have the exact same resources?
This question brings to mind an old cliché, "If every problem were a nail, all you would need is a hammer." There is no justification to allocate the "exact same" resources to every school; it wouldn't be equitable. Each school has its own set of needs and problems, and in order to address those needs and problems, priorities must be set and resources must be allocated accordingly. A school building that is 40 years old is likely going to have more maintenance issues than a building that is 2 years old. Underperforming schools may have different academic challenges and may require greater resources. A holistic approach to resource allocation based on student needs should raise the question: "Should every student have the exact same opportunity to get a quality education in Muscogee County Schools?" and the answer to that of course, is absolutely "Yes!"
Was the school board right to vote against then-superintendent Susan Andrews' appointments in May 2012?
In recent public meetings, Superintendent Lewis noted the challenges the execution of his vision for the future would face. He cited trust issues and problems with the board as barriers the district faces in being perceived in a positive way in the community. The incident this question references helped foster the ongoing lack of trust in the school board, but it is important to remember that it was an act done deliberately and spitefully. The sitting members of the board who were behind that vote, including my opponent John Wells, should be ashamed of putting a personal agenda above the best interests of the schools. Citizens of Muscogee County deserve to feel that the education of the county's children will not take a back seat to petty politics, personal vendettas, and spiteful retaliation among adults who should be responsible enough not to abuse the power of their office.
If elected, will you support another special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST)?
When elected, I want to focus my efforts on ensuring that expenditures are being made as effectively as possible. Budget concerns played a significant factor in my decision to seek the office. I believe there are efficiencies to be found in the allocation of financial resources. I have specific ideas on how to save money and address the budget shortfalls and funding cuts we face, and I don't believe the answer is to simply throw money at the problem. The community does not trust the board now, and the board has a lot of ground to make up with the community -- money, power, and personnel issues have all contributed to that in the past. I want to get the board back on track with trust, integrity, and respect in the community. I will not support another SPLOST until I have proven to be a worthy steward of the taxpayer-funded budget.
Should the school district open up the bidding process for law firms?
Yes, the school district should open up the bidding process for law firms, but I do not think the issue stops there. All services should be up for bid. It's only common sense: We have to run the school district within the parameters of a budget, and in principle it's no different than running your household on a budget. If you want to get the most impact from the money you lay out, it simply makes sense to weigh your options and shop for the best value at the best price.
—Ledger-Enquirer, (2014), 
What was at stake?
Issues in the election
April 24 candidate forum
MidTown Inc. hosted a candidate forum on April 24, 2014 featuring all nine candidates for the three contested seats. Here are highlights of candidate responses at the forum divided by board race:
Incumbent John Wells touted the district's improving graduation rates as a source of pride for current board members. He advocated for a continuation of the reading program and supervisory changes implemented by Superintendent David Lewis. John "Bart" Steed argued that the district's graduation rate is still too low and education equity has to be achieved throughout district schools. Victor Morales suggested that more programs for struggling students are necessary to bring schools up to the level of success stories like Columbus High School. Thomas stated that the district needs to reallocate resources to struggling schools in order to improve academic performance.
Incumbent Beth Harris supported efforts by the superintendent to improving academic performance but also advocated for better communications. She suggested that teachers and principals throughout the district could spread good ideas with the help of district administrators. Frank Myers countered that Wells, Harris and other board members might limit the education reforms promoted by Superintendent Lewis.
Kia Chambers and Nate Sanderson spoke about the vast disparities between high-performing and low-performing schools during the forum. Chambers suggested that the district must focus on improving programs for students with disabilities and other groups with low graduation rates to close the district's achievement gap. Sanderson argued for replicating successful programs at high-performing schools throughout the district to increase academic performance. Owen Ditchfield noted that the district has to pursue state and federal education grants along with community partnerships to boost the district's prospects.
About the district
- See also: Muscogee County School District, Georgia
Muscogee County underperformed in comparison to the rest of Georgia in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 22.1 percent of Muscogee County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 27.8 percent for Georgia as a whole. The median household income in Muscogee County was $41,443 compared to $49,604 for the state of Georgia. The poverty rate in Muscogee County was 18.8 percent compared to 17.4 percent for the entire state.
|Racial Demographics, 2012|
|Race||Muscogee County (%)||Georgia (%)|
|Black or African American||46.1||31.2|
|American Indian and Alaska Native||0.5||0.5|
|Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander||0.2||0.1|
|Two or More Races||2.6||1.8|
|Hispanic or Latino||7.2||9.2|
Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100 percent. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one or two tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "John + Thomas + Muscogee + County + Schools + Georgia"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- Ledger-Enquirer, "Q&A with Muscogee County School Board District 2 candidates," April 21, 2014
- Department of the Columbus, Georgia Consolidated Government, "Campaign Finance Disclosures," accessed May 16, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Ledger-Enquirer, "Graduation rate is hot topic at candidate forum," April 24, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Muscogee County, Georgia," accessed May 13, 2014
- National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed May 13, 2014
- United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
|2014 Muscogee County School District Elections|
|Muscogee County, Georgia|
|Election date:||May 20, 2014|
|Candidates:||District 2: • Victor Morales • John "Bart" Steed • John F. Thomas • John Wells|
At-large: • Kia Chambers • Owen Ditchfield • Nate Sanderson
|Important information:||What was at stake? • Key deadlines • Additional elections on the ballot|