TARYN CHILIVIS BOWMAN PROFILE:
Taryn Chilivis Bowman is running for Atlanta Board of Education to fix problems she sees with Atlanta Public Schools.
"I am running for office because I want to make a difference," the Buckhead resident said. "I have a passion for education and a heart for children and teachers. I got involved in the APS system about five years ago, and I, like a lot of parents, have lost confidence in APS. Instead of complaining about what doesn't work, I've decided to take action. I think that it's time we start getting things done right at APS. I want our schools to be top notch. Our children deserve excellence."
Bowman and her husband Pete have three children: Annabelle, 9, Noelle, 7, and Daley-Nicole, 6, all students at Jackson Elementary. She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, in 1991. Bowman is a former small business owner working as a production accountant in the motion picture industry, but has taken time off from that work for the past five years to focus on raising her children.
"I am the best choice for District 4 because of my effectiveness, my previous experience, and what I bring to the table as a board member. I have a strong financial background, as I have been involved with multimillion dollar movie productions, making sure that they come in on time and on budget and writing computer programs to manage and project these budgets. I have been involved with children for most of my adult life volunteering at the Shepherd Spinal Center with children with spina bifida, acting as a youth director, and teaching first grade. This will be my fourth year of chairing the PTA's literary magazine, Jackson Jottings, for students. I also started, and am currently running, an APS teacher sponsored spirit club for students. I believe that giving students ownership and the tools they need to succeed are paramount.
Bowman also said she believes her opponent, Meister, has “a conflict of interest” because she sells residential real estate in her district.
"I am solely focused on APS," she said. "I don't have a day job, but have a full 30 hours every single week that I can carve out to work above and beyond the call of duty as a board member to serve my community. I will devote myself to getting the resources we need and approving policies to keep the students first.
"With integrity, dedication, accountability, transparency, determination, innovation, and collaboration, I pledge to help drive the implementation of the changes needed to make APS excellent.
Her top three issues are selecting a top new superintendent, localizing the district’s budget and reducing class sizes.
"Hiring a new superintendent that is a strong leader with a common vision for our schools" is important, she said. "Second, financial - getting the budget under control. The current board has been on a lengthy and reckless track of deficit spending and borrowing from the reserves to make up for it. The reserves have dropped from about $250 million in 1997 to about $20 million today. APS is top-heavy. We need to cut at the administrative level and redirect the money to the classroom where it belongs. This includes localizing the budget, taking the control away from the central office and giving the authority to the local schools so that a principal has control of his or her own budget. A principal should be able to hire the appropriate teachers for his or her school and spend money where needed within that given budget. We are not a one-size-fits-all school system.
"Third, classroom - smaller class sizes. Class sizes have steadily increased over the last four years. Not only has the current board approved going up to five students per classroom over the state maximum, but classes have even more students than that. My goal is to bring the class sizes down to the state maximum or below helping bridge the ethnical and socioeconomic gaps and, in doing so, cultivate parent, student, and teacher satisfaction. I plan to work rigorously in raising APS' current graduation rate of 51 percent and 60 percent at North Atlanta High School to at least 90 percent. Our students deserve all we can give them to propel them forward to an on time graduation."
Bowman said she had raised $15,000 for her campaign as of last week but expected to more than double that following a fundraiser Sunday night and another this week.
According to a news release, Bowman has been endorsed by former University of Georgia football coach and Athletic Director Vince Dooley and Cumulus Media Chief Operating Officer John Dickey.
NANCY MEISTER PROFILE:
Nancy Meister is running for a second term on the Atlanta Board of Education because she said she still has much to accomplish for the city’s public schools.
“I’m running for re-election to the board … because I want to continue the work I have begun,” said Meister, a Buckhead resident who was elected in 2009. “Immediately after [I took] office, APS went through an extremely difficult period. I have helped lead that effort by advocating for transparency and ethics.
“I have led that effort by standing firm to my principles of smaller class sizes, reducing administrative overhead and eliminating furlough days. But there are important decisions ahead. District 4 and APS need an experienced member who has advocated for our children to continue our progress and lead APS further.”
Meister, a residential real estate broker with Beacham and Co., earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing/management from Bentley College in Waltham, Mass., in 1985. She and her husband Steve have two children: Matthew, 22, a Georgia Tech student, and Andrew, 21, who goes to the University of Georgia. Both sons are graduates of North Atlanta High.
“I am the best choice for District 4 because I have advocated and voted in the best interest of not only District 4, but APS as a whole,” Meister said. “This experience is necessary for the progression of APS. I believe our community needs a board member who has stuck to their principles, has voted in the best interest of the community and who advocates for policies that will push APS to new heights. Our children deserve this.”
She said her top three issues are “budgetary concerns, selecting a new superintendent and implementing new decentralization policies.”
“In regards to the budget: more furlough days and larger class sizes are not the answer,” Meister said. “I have strongly stood by this principle. I believe the central office’s administrative overhead needs to be addressed strongly and I have consistently advocated for this. We must push more resources into local schools, not Trinity Avenue [the central office].
“The next board must hire a leader who has a proven track record of empowering schools and communities, a deep understanding that Atlanta Public Schools is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ system and a passion to reform teaching and learning in each school. Through the budgeting process, the next board must re-evaluate our compensation packages for principals, teachers and school-based staff. This will ensure our employees performing the most challenging tasks are more than adequately compensated. The next board must implement policies that allow for technological advances that provide growth in our students’ education.
“Finally, decentralization. Our district is wonderfully diverse! Our children deserve a system that provides autonomy to its leadership. School-based management and budgeting takes decision-making and spending away from the central office, allowing resources to be directed and appropriately applied by the one who knows the needs of the schools best: the principal. I have consistently advocated for this.”
Through June 30, Meister had $0 net cash on hand, according to the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission.