10 hopefuls line up for Hillsborough school board race
TAMPA - Competition for seats on the Hillsborough County school board has become even more crowded. There are now 10 candidates seeking election in the 2014 vote that will see three new board members guide the nation’s eighth largest district. Since longtime District 2 member Candy Olson announced recently she would not seek re-election next year, two more candidates have filed for that race. Stacy Hahn and Sally Harris join Michael Weston as the three who have filed so far in the bid to represent South Tampa on the school board.Weston is a teacher at Freedom High School and has run unsuccessfully for school board before, as has Harris. Hahn is on the faculty of the department of special education at the University of South Florida. In District 6, attorney Dipa Shah and former auditor Alison McGillivray Fernandez are seeking to replace April Griffin, who is running for county commission. Kim Miller had filed previously in that district, which is voted on countywide. It’s the first time Shah, 42, has run for public office. Fernandez, 45, is serving her second term on the Temple Terrace City Council. “I am very passionate about education,” said Shah, who has two children in public schools and has lived in the Tampa Bay area since 2004. “I feel it’s a fundamental building block for our future.” She said she wants to place more emphasis on learning and life skills instead of high-stakes tests. “I want to make sure they have the skills they need to be successful,” said Shah, who lives in Valrico. “Education to me is the knowledge and the skills and the know-how that is in the brain, not what you return on a standardized test.” Fernandez, who has four children enrolled in public schools, agrees. She acknowledges that there needs to be some mechanism for testing what students know, but she thinks the state has become too obsessed with high-stakes testing. Fernandez attended local schools as a child and has lived in Temple Terrace since 1972. “Schools are a very high priority with me,” she said. “I would like to have some input and I would like to help keep the school district grounded and remind them that they serve the taxpayers.” In District 4, currently represented by Stacy White, who also is running for county commission, four candidates are vying for the seat that represents eastern Hillsborough County. Melissa Snively, Dee Prether, Jereme Monette and Terry Kemple have filed their papers with the supervisor of elections office. School board races are nonpartisan. Board members earn nearly $41,000 annually and are elected to four-year terms.