Speaks, 62, of Stone Mountain faces one opponent for Super District 8, which includes high schools from Dunwoody to Lithonia.
Speaks said she wants to be re-elected so she can “complete the journey of trying to ensure a quality education for the children and for fiscal stability.”
Speaks, was endorsed this week by eduKALB, an organization comprising business, civic, government and community representatives that works for quality School Board leadership in DeKalb.
Her challenger, Michelle “Mimi” Clark, 45, also of Stone Mountain, did not return repeated phone calls placed over three days this week.
On Wednesday, Clark sent an e-mail to CrossRoadsNews apologizing for not replying to an e-mail inviting her to participate in the July 17 candidate forum co-sponsored by the newspaper and the Ray of Hope Christian Church.
Clark wrote that she is out of town on business.
“I am very concerned about the direction of the DeKalb County School System and plan to be an advocate for our children and teachers,” she said. “Currently, I am starting a business and have been unable to be as available as I would have liked. This business adventure will give me the flexibility to be an active member of the School Board when elected. Unfortunately, the election coincides with my opening date and has taken more time than I had planned.”
Speaks worked for 25 years in the DeKalb schools, starting as a special education teacher and ending in 2004 as director of the Title I program.
She has two children who graduated from the school system – her daughter from DeKalb School of the Arts and her son from Lakeside High School.
Speaks believes the top priorities facing the system are:
• “Ensuring quality education for all children instead of what our system’s new superintendent said she found — pockets of excellence.”
• Restoring fiscal responsibility in the school district.
• Acquiring quality personnel in all positions.
CrossRoadsNews reported on July 7 that 1,194 – or one in five – of DeKalb’s 2012 seniors failed to graduate in May.
Speaks called it “a crying shame.”
“It shows we need to do more,” she said. “We need to start at elementary school, making sure that we are not just passing these children along from grade to grade.”
A profile of Clark posted on eduKalb’s Web site, www.edukalb.org, describes her as the owner of Interstate Driver Services and Solutions, a driver leasing company.
Previously, she worked for seven years in the transportation industry as an operations manager, her profile states.
She has two children attending DeKalb schools and describes herself as an active PTA member.
Her profile says she supports full funding and expansion of pre-k programs, financial transparency, increased parent involvement in schools, and long-term plans for keeping up with technology.
July 31 ballot questions
DeKalb voters are being asked in a non-binding advisory referendum whether the school system should be allowed to place or operate telecommunication towers on school property.
State legislators have been seeking ways to prevent the location of more cell towers on DeKalb Schools property after a July 12, 2011, vote by the DeKalb School Board to allow T-Mobile to locate 150-foot-high towers on nine school properties for up to 30 years. Most of those schools are in South DeKalb.
Speaks, who voted in favor of the towers on the School Board, said she asked that schools that had expressed opposition to be removed from the list.
She said she plans to vote “no” on the referendum question and said she probably would vote “no” if she could redo her School Board cell tower vote.
“I probably wouldn’t vote for it because it’s not an educational issue,” she said. “The school system has enough educational issues. We would have been better off not tackling this at all.”
Speaks said she has not decided how she will vote on the ballot’s regional T-SPLOST referendum. T-SPLOST would levy a 1-cent sales tax for transportation improvements over 10 years.
“The traffic situation and the transportation infrastructure have always been subpar,” she said.
But she’s undecided because she still has questions such as whether there is a firm timeline for ending the tax when projects are paid off.
More election coverage:
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Candidates feel pinch as campaign donations dwindle
Current T-SPLOST is not worthy of our support
Ellis faces two newcomers in his bid for another term
Ellis a no-show as CEO challengers share views at forums
CEO Candidate cries foul over voting site
Biomass facility a big factor in District 5 commission race
Four District 6 School Board hopefuls tackle tough topics
Three newcomers seek to unseat Womack on School Board
Indictment alleges candidate misused investment money
Forum set at Clarkston First Baptist