After serving 10 years on the Columbia School Board, the Rev. David P. Ballenger is running for re-election to “make sure we provide the best education for children by having the best facilities, technology, teachers and the best use of resources.”
During the coming term, he said he wants to manage the school budgets in a businesslike manner by efficiently and effectively using the school board’s resources while addressing the needs of all the schools. He also wants to ensure that teachers’ salaries stay competitive so the Columbia Public School District can continue “hiring the best and brightest.”
If re-elected, Ballenger said he would take on the role of a support arm for parents and teachers and try to touch every level of the community because he thinks education starts at home.
“Parents have to feel that you care and are interested in them and their child’s education,” Ballenger said.
At a recent school board forum, board candidates were asked about the No Child Left Behind Act.
While each candidate noted that the act can be confusing for people outside the education system, Ballenger thinks everyone should develop a better understanding of the act to help support its goals of assisting struggling schools and closing achievement gaps.
Test data have shown significant differences between test scores of sub-groups of students, such as minorities and those from low-income households.
The first step in addressing these problems and meeting national standards, Ballenger said, is to identify the problem areas and then develop solutions.
“The board does not have a miraculous answer” to the federal act, Ballenger said, adding that any solution would require community support.
Ballenger thinks teachers take budget and funding issues too personally. Instead, Ballenger said, “Teachers should be able to spread their wings (in the classroom) and use their creativity” instead of worrying about funding and issues that the board should be handling. He would also like to implement a new program in the district: Reading for Parents. The program would encourage parents to read more or learn to read better, which he hopes would encourage children to follow their parents’ lead.