Republican Bill Foster has held on to the District 5 seat on the Mobile County School Board in the March 1 GOP Primary, defeating newcomer Theresa Lucas Hubbard by nearly 3,000 votes on Super Tuesday.
Taking 60 percent of ballots cast in the 5th District, Foster was a clear favorite in an area he has previously served as a teacher and principal.
After declaring victory, Foster said his campaign was never about himself.
That being said, Foster wasted no time laying out the challenges he believes are ahead for the Mobile County Public School System. Foster believes responding to demographic shifts in Mobile County is the “number one problem” the board faces currently — an issue that’s already causing controversy.
Describing it as “class flight,” Foster said middle-class families have been moving from East to West — creating capacity concerns at schools in Districts 1 and 5, while leaving other schools in the heart of Mobile with very student enrollment.
“These are not new people who are moving here, these are people moving out of the city of Mobile and moving into South and Southwest Mobile County,” Foster said. “The middle class in Mobile has come to the West, and that’s regardless of how wealthy you are, what race you are, it has to do with a real problem. There is a substantial demographic shift.”
Though the board hasn’t openly addressed it, the system has pointed to those shifting demographics as the reason behind recent considerations to repurpose some schools and combine student populations at others.
However, those options have caused controversy lately because the students they could affect are disproportionately black — as was the case with recent discussions about bussing Brazier Elementary students to Prichard and possibly converting Denton Middle School into the system’s seventh magnet program.
“I’m not pointing the fingers as to who created this, but this is something the board has got to take a real hard and fast look at, and we may have to make some decisions that are not real popular,“ Foster said. “What I can tell you is, I’m not going to make any decisions that are not in the best interest of the kids in my district or those that I serve throughout all of Mobile County.”
MCPSS board members are elected on a staggering basis, serving six-year terms. Facing no democratic opposition in November, Foster will officially begin his second term next January.