Voters in Baldwin County School Board District 5 will face a choice in the March 3 Republican primary between incumbent board member Norma Lynch and challenger Robert Stuart. There is no Democrat qualified to run for the seat.
Both bring in a background of involvement in the lives of students. Lynch is a retired school administrator and Stuart served with the Orange Beach Sports Association for more than 25 years. Lynch has been a realtor for the past 10 years and Stuart owns a vacation rental property business.
“Since going on the board in January 2018, I see the emphasis on curriculum and instruction,” Lynch said. “I see wise budget decisions being made. I see partnerships being created with businesses and municipalities to enhance opportunities for students. All these things made me want to stay involved and do everything possible to contribute to the success of our schools and our students.”
Stuart said he believes Baldwin County can be a leader in helping Alabama shed the status of the lowest-performing schools in the country.
“It is a new day in education and Alabama is almost at the bottom nationally,” Stuart said. “We have great teachers and administrators that are willing to pour their hearts and souls into our children. The problem is we have been doing the same old things the same old ways and we are getting the same old results. I believe if we each strive to put the district first, we can change this. This is just a small step, but it’s a step.”
Both candidates say the burgeoning population will continue to put pressure on the school system and the board needs to manage that growth.
“We have phase four of our pay-as-you-go building program being developed now,” Lynch said. “By using the pay-as-you-go model, we are addressing the population growth, as well as the changing landscape of education by building schools without long-term bonds and saving taxpayers money.”
One of those new schools landed in Elberta, but Stuart said growth there is already threatening to overwhelm the new facilities.
“As I started asking around and doing further research, I found that there are great needs in Elberta,” Stuart said. “They will have outgrown their new school within the next two years and they have programs and needs that haven’t been met.”
Lynch said she wants to continue to help employees of the school system moving forward.
“I see administrators, teachers and staff working hard every day for our children so I’m working that hard to keep my position on the board,” Lynch said.
Stuart believes his years of serving the public have given him the experience to be an effective board member and will look to community leaders to help in that role.
“I’ve been asked if I truly believe I can make a difference,” Stuart said. “I have no doubt at all because I will bring fresh ideas and new energy. I already have some very strong people that I use as accountability partners: retired politicians, current and retired teachers, businessmen and parents, who understand education and understand we have to make changes.”
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