Clark vows to bring ‘professionalism’ to school board

By Wesley LeBlanc wesley@opcfla.com
Posted 11/24/20

CLAY COUNTY – Beth Clark plans to bring professionalism to the school board with a renewed transparency for the citizens she serves.

Clark has lived in Clay County since 1983 and has watched the …

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Clark vows to bring ‘professionalism’ to school board

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Beth Clark plans to bring professionalism to the school board with a renewed transparency for the citizens she serves.

Clark has lived in Clay County since 1983 and has watched the school board and the district morph into something she believes needs improvement. She believes her 30 years in accounting, 15 years in real estate and devotion to children will help her be the force of change she’s wanted to see on the board for years.

“Basically, I was just a concerned citizen like anybody else out there,” Clark said. “We need to get back to professionalism. We need to be transparent with citizens. I had been praying about this for two years and on April 17, I decided to file to run and I worked very hard to get through this election.”

Clark uses the word “professionalism” when she talks about her newly-elected status as the representative for District 2. It’s because she feels it’s a quality that every school board needs and something Clay County’s has been lacking. She said people often bring up this or that instance of this lack of professionalism – members have publicly aired their grievances with each other in a not-so-charismatic way before – but Clark said it’s not just any single instance. It’s the last 10 to 12 years, she said.

Her goal is not to join this school board and ruffle everyone’s feathers, but to instead focus on everyone involved working together to get the job done. She wants to see the board work together to be more fiscally responsible, a key pillar of her platform.

“It’s not that I oppose the sales tax that’s passed,” Clark said. “When you talk to me, you’ll learn that I’m actually a proponent of it, especially over an income tax or a property tax. I opposed it in speaking because of the questions I and many other citizens wanted answered. What happened to the money in the past? Why did we outright purchase Discovery Oaks Elementary instead of a bond? Where did the money go that we should have set aside for maintenance when we built schools? These are questions I believe every citizen has and I want answers.”

She said the board and district need to look at the rest of the current financial situation as well. Clark said the school district makes money based on students in seats at school and that with more students opting out of brick-and-mortar schools due to COVID-19, less money is coming in.

She also said COVID-19’s effects stretch beyond direct school contribution. Less people are driving around so gas tax revenue is less, she said, and with more people purchasing things online instead of in stores, sales tax will likely be lower.

“We can’t just spend on things we want,” Clark said. “We need to spend on what we absolutely need.”

Clark said her 30 years in accounting have prepared her for the financial improvements and transparency she believes the district needs and her 15 years in real estate make her great for negotiating with others.

“One of the challenges we face in Clay County is the growth,” Clark said. “We need to make sure the district grows in the right direction and we need to make sure we’re collecting impact fees as builders come in and build new subdivisions and more.”

Clark said she hopes to partner with local businesses to get them to adopt new schools. She said not only does this help financially, but it also can create new pathways to careers for graduating students. If a welding company adopts a high school, that high school can create an educational pathway to graduate with welding certification through the welding company that adopted the school, for example.

“I look at the number and there are a lot that voted for me,” Clark said. “There are over 40,000 that didn’t and right now, they’re probably not happy. I want them and everyone to research me and get to know me. I want them to know children are my number one priority and that we need to be transparent with our citizens and professional with our fellow board members. We have to get along.

“I’m not a politician and I’m not here to be a politician. I’m a public servant for those that voted for me and for those that didn’t.”

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