Catoosa County Public Schools (CCPS) has a new superintendent. Charles Nix took over the reins of the system that serves more than 10,000 students this year after Denia Reese retired. Reese served as superintendent for 17 years.
Nix is a 20-year resident of Catoosa County. His two daughters, he says, graduated from Catoosa schools and his wife and oldest daughter are teachers within the system.
Nix’s rise to superintendent was not quite conventional. He started out as a Catoosa County sheriff’s deputy working as a resource officer at Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School. He got into teaching when he was asked to conduct public safety classes at Heritage High School.
In 2014, Nix became assistant principal of West Side Elementary, then moved to LFO in the same role in 2015. In 2017, he became principal of LFO, where he remained until becoming CCPS superintendent.
Nix holds a Master’s of Education in curriculum and instruction from Lincoln Memorial University and an Educational Specialist’s degree in leadership from Valdosta State University.
We asked Nix to share some more with us for our readers. Here’s what he had to say.
What are areas you want to focus on as the superintendent of Catoosa County Schools?
Communication, parent relations, teacher support, and community relations.
What do you consider priorities in students’ education?
Making sure they’re reading at grade-level by third grade and making sure they have skills needed to hold a job or go to college by the time they graduate.
How serious a toll do you think the pandemic took on students’ education and what, if any, special measures will be taken to remedy the situation?
Social distancing has led to social digression. Students not only lost academic skills, but they also lost social skills, such as playing together in the sandbox, sharing, and interacting with adults. Teachers have always done more than teaching their subject; they spend much of their day teaching and reminding students how to show respect, communicate, and work together in a group setting. The pandemic has once again highlighted this need.
Do you have any innovative ideas for change?
I am excited about the district’s Catoosa Connects initiative to engage businesses and community members to focus on College and Career Readiness in elementary through high school. Students who have goals for the future are typically more engaged and successful in school. Having guest speakers in different careers will help students see the many opportunities that are available for them and will help them see how education is relevant to achieve success in the future.
What are the greatest challenges you expect to face?
The pandemic has created greater challenges, including learning loss, inappropriate behaviors, social/emotional issues in all grades, and vaping in secondary schools.
What can parents do to help improve their children’s education?
Be involved. Parents are a child’s first teacher and best teacher. Parental involvement has the single largest impact on a child’s education.
Who are some people who have influenced the way you think and live?
My wife and daughters, my mother, Jack Sims, and Superintendent Reese
What are some books that have influenced the way you think and live?
♦ The Bible
♦ “Understanding Poverty” by Ruby Payne
♦ “Leadership in Turbulent Times” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
♦ “Life and Times of Frederick Douglass” by Frederick Douglass
♦ “What Great Principals Do Differently” by Todd Whitiker
♦ “The Trial and Death of Socrates” by Plato
♦ “Marching Off the Map” by Andrew McPeak and Tim Elmore
What is a book (or books) you wish every student would read?
♦ “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White
♦ “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkein
♦ “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss
There is some debate on who actually said it, but one of my favorites is, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Dig out your swim suit and grab a towel. Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold’s city pools open this year on Saturday, May 28.
Address: 19 Norris St., Fort Oglethorpe
Hours and cost
♦ Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. $5 per person
♦ Season pass for individual: $75 season
♦ City resident family season pass: $150 (up to five people)
♦ Non-resident family season pass: $225 (up to five people)
Pool party rentals: Thursday through Sunday, 6-8 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. slots available, $200 for two hours
No swimming lessons this year
A few of the rules
♦ No alcohol and no smoking or vaping inside pool area
♦ No outside food inside the pool area but people can eat at their cars or at the playground picnic tables and return to the pool the same day without paying again
More information: Call 706-866-5045
Where and when
Address: 406 Cotter St., Ringgold
Hours: Monday through Saturday, noon to 6 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Night swims: Monday through Thursday, 7-10 p.m.
Party rental times: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, 6-8 p.m. and 8-10 p.m. slots
♦ 0-2 years old, free; age 3 and up, $4 per person
♦ Season passes available, prices still under consideration
♦ Party rentals: $150 ($50 nonrefundable deposit)
A few of the rules
♦ No alcohol (coolers will be checked at the gate)
♦ No smoking or vaping inside pool or concession area
♦ Eating allowed only in concession area
More information: 706-935-3061
ATLANTA — Primary challengers to Georgia’s last two sitting Republican governors’ reelection bids didn’t fare well.
Ray McBerry garnered only 11.6% of the vote against then-Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2006. David Pennington did a little better against then-Gov. Nathan Deal in 2014, collecting 16.7% of the vote.
Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue likely will eclipse those numbers against Gov. Brian Kemp in the May 24 GOP gubernatorial primary.
Perdue entered the race last December at the urging and with the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, who was angered over Kemp’s refusal to help overturn the 2020 election that saw President Joe Biden win Georgia’s 16 electoral votes.
Trump turned to Perdue after the former CEO lost his bid for a second Senate term to Democrat Jon Ossoff early last year.
Although the presidential election took place 18 months ago, Kemp’s inaction following complaints of widespread voter fraud in the election’s aftermath has been Perdue’s main theme on the campaign trail.
He has hammered away at that argument despite repeated court rulings that the allegations were unsubstantiated.
“Our governor allowed radical Democrats to steal our election,” Perdue said last month in a contentious one-on-one debate with Kemp. “We have evidence that is compelling. Yet, nothing has been done.”
Kemp said he followed the law and the Constitution, which gave him no wiggle room to intervene in certifying Biden’s victory in Georgia.
The governor pointed instead to the Republican-controlled General Assembly’s passage of an election-reform law last year that added restrictions to absentee voting.
“We passed the strongest election integrity law in the U.S.,” he said. “We’ve tied photo ID to absentee ballots. We’ve secured drop boxes.”
Kemp has been leading in the polls and has drubbed Perdue in fund-raising. The governor is hoping to avoid a June 21 runoff rematch with Perdue.
But amassing the 50%-plus-one vote margin needed to win the Republican nomination outright will be difficult in a field crowded with five GOP candidates.
Besides Kemp and Perdue, the race includes educator Kandiss Taylor, conservative activist Catherine Davis and retired software engineer Tom Williams. All are polling in the single digits.
While Perdue has focused much of his fire at Kemp’s handling of the “rigged” 2020 election, the ex-senator also has criticized the governor’s handling of rising crime and his approach to economic development.
Perdue supports this year’s passage of legislation backed by Kemp to let Georgians carry firearms without a permit to help citizens defend themselves.
But Perdue cites an alarming rise in murder and rape in Atlanta, which are on track this year to beat last year’s record. While much of the responsibility for combating violent crime in Georgia’s capital goes to the city police department, Perdue said the state has 15% fewer troopers than when Kemp took office.
“What we have is a runaway crime situation,” Perdue said. “This governor is not enforcing the law.”
Kemp said the recent graduation of 75 new trooper candidates lifts the force back to where it was when he was elected. He also cited his creation of a multi-agency Crime Suppression Unit that has arrested 7,450 people with outstanding warrants, including 26 wanted for murder.
“We have taken stolen weapons off the street,” he said. “We’re going to continue doing that.”
On economic issues, Perdue argued a $1 billion phased-in state income tax cut championed by Kemp doesn’t go far enough. Perdue is calling for eliminating the tax entirely, as other Southern states that compete with Georgia for jobs have done.
“Florida, Tennessee and Texas are eating our lunch,” he said.
Kemp touted the success of the Georgia Department of Economic Development in landing job-generating projects, particularly in rural Georgia. Last year, 74% of private sector investments in Georgia as well as half of the new jobs went outside the 10-county Atlanta region, he said.
“We’re bringing in 7,500 jobs to rural parts of our state,” Kemp said, referring to plans by electric-vehicle startup Rivian to invest $5 billion in a manufacturing plant east of Atlanta. “[Perdue] has spent his whole business career outsourcing jobs to China.”
Perdue and Kemp are on the same page when it comes to the education issue that is drawing the most attention: efforts to restrict how racism can be taught in Georgia schools.
The General Assembly passed a Kemp-backed bill this year prohibiting the teaching of nine “divisive concepts,” including that the United States and Georgia are systemically racist and that no race is inherently superior or inferior to any other.
“History is proper. We want to teach history,” Perdue said. “[But] we’ve let the liberal school districts supersede the power of our government.”
“I’ve never said we don’t need to teach about race or slavery,” Kemp added. “But it needs to be facts, not somebody’s ideology.”
The highly charged issue of abortion inserted itself late in the primary campaign when a leaked draft of an upcoming U.S. Supreme Court ruling indicated the justices are poised to reverse the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.
Perdue is calling for a special session of the General Assembly to enact a total ban on abortion — with no exceptions — if the court rules as expected and turns the issue back to the states.
Kemp has called the “heartbeat bill” he pushed through the legislature in 2019 banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected — typically about six weeks — the most restrictive anti-abortion statute in the nation. The law is on hold pending the Supreme Court ruling.
People seem eager to vote this year. Catoosa County Elections Director Tonya Moore says that as of May 10, early voting has been more than four times what it was the same time in 2018, the last mid-term general primary.
The first week of early in-person voting this year, says Moore, resulted in 1,734 ballots cast — 4.7 times more than 2018’s 369 in-person votes during the first week of early voting.
Counting absentee votes, 2,187 people voted the first week of this year’s general primary. There had been 1,769 votes logged in the special election for Catoosa County Board of Commissioners chair position.
There is still time for voters to get to the polls early. Following is the early voting schedule as well as information about final voting day (May 24). For full information about elections, including candidates, precincts and sample ballots, visit: www.catoosa.com/departments/view-all-departments/elections-voter-registration.
Even if you don’t like the selection of candidates, you’ll like the variety of voting dates.
Early voting: Monday through Friday, May 2 through May 20, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday voting: May 7 and May 14, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Extended hours voting: Thursday, May 19, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
There is no voting on Monday, May 23.
Last day to vote: May 24, 7 a.m. to7 p.m.
If a June 21 runoff is necessary, voting dates will be June 13, 14, 15 and 17, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and June 16, 8 a.m. to7 p.m.
While Catoosa County boasts 11 voting precincts, you only get to choose from two during early voting:
♦ Ringgold voting precinct (aka, Freedom Center), 5238 Evitt St. Ringgold, Ga.
♦ Westside voting precinct, 3319 Lakeview Dr. Rossville, Ga.
The special election to fill the vacated District 5 (countywide) Catoosa Board of Commissioners seat will be held on the same dates and at the same places as the general primary, but it is actually a separate election. Voters will use one voting machine for this election and another for all the other races. Poll workers will be available to help.
On the big, last-chance voting day in the general primary, May 24, voters must go to their assigned precincts.