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Rome BOE gets four new faces

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Four political newcomers will join three incumbents for the next four-year term of the Rome Board of Education.

These were the top seven vote-getters out of the 15 candidates in Tuesday’s city election to fill each seat on the board: Jill Fisher, 2,023 votes; Will Byington, 1,940 votes; John Uldrick, 1,730 votes; Elaina Beeman, 1,645 votes; Faith Collins, 1,644 votes; Dr. Melissa Davis, 1,620 votes; and Alvin Jackson, 1,612 votes.

Byington, Beeman and Collins are all incumbents. They will be joined in the new term by newcomers Fisher, Uldrick, Davis and Jackson.

Incumbents Richard Dixon and Dale Swann both ran for re-election but failed to land in the top seven in votes. Current board members Cheryl Huffman and Bruce Jones did not run for re-election.

Byington was thankful for all who voted for him and those who helped him campaign, most importantly his wife, he said. He hated to see Dixon and Swann not get elected but he is looking forward to working with the new board members to make further progress in making Rome City Schools the best system in the state, he added.

It was an exciting, but also overwhelming, moment Fisher said on Tuesday night. It’s a big responsibility, she said, but she is anxious to begin. Staying plugged into what’s happening at the schools is a major focus — something made a little bit easier with a child each in elementary, middle and high school.

“I just want to serve and do what’s right for our schools,” she said.

Beeman said the best is yet to come for the school system, which will move forward on carrying out the projects to be funded by an extension of the 1-cent education local option sales tax. With new board members coming on, she said the bottom line is they all have to be on the same page moving forward in doing what’s best for the kids.

Campaigning is a grueling and tiring task, Uldrick said, and he is happy to have his first shot at it finished. He said he was overwhelmed by the number of people who encouraged and supported his campaign. A steep learning process awaits him, he said.

Uldrick said he has no agenda or axe to grind; he just wants to bring a new perspective.

The message of a poem kept playing in Collins’ mind on Election Day, she said. It was that the difference she brings to the board can be a great deal of difference in the long run, she said.

“My passion for Rome City Schools is first class,” she said.

Davis said she looks to build relationships and wants to get into the schools and frequent the central office to establish a relational foundation before her term starts in January. Finding out what teachers need and providing them more support is an aim of hers, she said.

“Good outcomes come when people stand with other people,” she said.

Jackson said board members will have disagreements, but those can’t get in the way of the responsibility they have — to not only make things better for students but the community at-large. That starts with them working together and having greater community involvement, Jackson said, while seeking further input from all stakeholders.

He aims to dig into the mechanics, policies and procedures of the board as part of coming into his new role.

In about three weeks an orientation will be held for new board members, Collins said, and they should be ready to roll after that point.