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Hooper, Auker vie for Blackberry seat on county school board
Monday, October 28, 2013
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Mike Hooper and Tom Auker are running for the Blackberry District seat on the Henry County School Board in the Nov. 5 election. Both are making their first bid for public office.
Auker: Security is key concern
Security in Henry County Schools is “the number one priority” of Auker.
“I’m hoping we can put school resource officers in (elementary) schools,” said Auker, who taught in the county schools from 1992 until 2011.
Another priority of his is improving the graduation rate. “We need to work harder to improve that area,” he said.
It should be stressed to students that education leads to more opportunities and better jobs, he said.
He also said, “I think we need to look at alternatives for students who are not going to go to college.” He supports expanding career and technical education offerings. For instance, he said he thinks it would be good to have an agricultural education program at Bassett High School.
Auker supports teacher tenure and ongoing contracts. “It gives security. If you’re doing a good job, you need to have tenure,” he said.
Auker praised the education climate in the county, calling it “topnotch,” and added he looks forward to working with Superintendent Jared Cotton.
“I want to give back to the community what the community has given to me,” he said. “I’m going to be open to listen to people’s concerns. If I get on the school board, I’m representing the people I serve.”
Improving student academic performance/reducing class sizes is Hooper’s top priority.
Smaller class sizes would give teachers more time to give individual attention to students, he said.
“I think we need to lower classroom size so kids can get the best education, so they can learn the most, and to give every one of them the best opportunity to be successful,” he said.
He also thinks more Boys and Girls Clubs after-school programs are needed in Henry County Schools. His daughter, Kaitlyn, 10, a fifth-grader, is a member of the Boys and Girls Club after-school program at Sanville Elementary.
“She has benefited tremendously,” Hooper said. “She is learning more. Her grades are almost perfect in A’s. Behavior-wise, it’s helped tremendously.”
Hooper said the program offers assistance with homework and helps keep children off the streets and in a safe place.
Another priority of his is getting students out of mobile units into “secure buildings” as funds are available, he said. He added that is continuing an idea of current Blackberry District School Board member Rudy Law, who did not seek a third term on the board this fall.
Hooper noted that he will have worked for the Henry County Sheriff’s Office for 24 years as of Nov. 1. He has worked in the jail, as a road deputy, in neighborhood watch, in community-oriented policing and now in code enforcement, including using cameras to catch litterers.
“I’m the one (local lawyer and anti-litter activist) Reid Young talks about,” Hooper said, referring to anti-litter efforts.
“I work closely with the supervisors. ... I have a good relationship with the supervisors. That (relationship) would be good for both boards (if he is elected),” Hooper added.