Election 2016: Father of four wants to strengthen Williamson schools as board member

Election 2016: Father of four wants to strengthen Williamson schools as board member

While originally moving here to start a church, Franklin dad Stuart Cooper said he wanted to invest into Williamson schools on the school board.

Voting district 11: Franklin area.

While originally moving here to start a church, Franklin dad Stuart Cooper said he wanted to invest into Williamson schools by running for the District 11 seat.

He will be on the Aug. 4 ballot. Early voting runs July 15 to July 30.

Cooper, who has four children, works for a tech firm in Cool Springs. His daughter attends Page Middle with two of his other children going to Winstead Elementary School. His youngest will eventually go to Winstead. Before they attended Williamson schools, his wife Jenny home schooled their oldest two children for some of the elementary education.

Before moving to Franklin from Knoxville three years ago, Cooper attended the University of Tennessee for his undergraduate degree in speech communication. He went back to school a decade later to attend the Haslam College of Business for its executive MBA program.

He will face Franklin dad KC Haugh. Incumbent Mark Gregory will not run for re-election.

Rezoning is one of the first issues the new board will deal with together as the Nolensville schools open and Thompson’s Station on the horizon. What’s your philosophy on school rezoning, grandfathering and the anticipation of future growth for rezoning?

Rezoning is essentially a by-product of growth and we are growing rapidly. It’s something we have to do. Growth is a good problem to have but it does create challenges. I think we need to over communicate. I think we need to communicate, communicate, communicate again. We need to listen to people, but also need to lead throughout the process.

Not everyone will be happy with decisions that are made. We can’t please everyone, but if we communicate and lead well I think it will go very well. I did speak to a voter who said her two children have been rezoned four times. She is past all that with her kids in college, and she had a smile on her face.

It will go well and it will be fine. I never make promises. But it’s going to be painful. Good leadership prepares people for things when they could be challenging.

We are growing so fast. We can’t please everyone, but we will do our best to make decisions for everyone involved.

What is your position on standardized testing – is there too much, too little?

I think that teachers want to teach. I don’t think they want to test all the time. Students want to learn and not be over tested. So, I do think in some cases testing is excessive. We’ve had tears. They’ve come home in tears and that type of thing. It’s nothing I am overly concerned about but we have to prepare for the week of testing and able to make sure they are well rested.

What is your position on Common Core and the state working to phase it out?

I am opposed to Common Core, and I think it’s a great move to phase it out. I want local control, and this a nonpartisan race, but I am a Republican. A lot of people ask me that at the door. They are asking a question behind a question. Some of them are pro-local control, and I think we can make decisions locally that don’t need to made from a federal level.

What do you think of current state education standards?

I know we recently implemented a standards review committee. I think that’s a wise decision, and I am glad we have a mechanism in place in which to review standards. I think we are making progress and that we are reviewing them.

Do you think world religions should be part of history or social studies curricula?

I think the history of world religion should be taught in history. I think if you teach world religions in the context of history, you’re going to be more fair and accurate in the representation. I would teach it in the context of history.

What is your opinion of the current state of WCS and the current leadership?

The US News and World Report that ranked five of our schools in the top 20. We are obviously doing very well. I think we can do better, but we are obviously doing well. Our ACT scores have gone up since our superintendent has been at the helm. People move here to be a part of the school system. Our reputation is strong in the state of Tennessee. Not that I want people moving from everywhere, but I would love to see our reputation grow outside of this region and outside of the state. So we are thriving locally and competing nationally.

What is the best thing about WCS?

I think our experience has been wonderful. At Winstead Elementary, we’ve had three of our kids in school there, and one is on the way. The principal is great. The teachers are amazing. The events that they hold for us to bring them to is always a family friendly environment. It’s a fertile ground for excellent schools. The cooperation is strong between parents and teachers and students and the community as well. The community values education. Business leaders value education and our schools. Businesses move here because of the reputation of the area.

What needs attention and what aspect of it could need adjustment?

I think what needs attention is growth. I think we have our hands full with growth. We could be build a new school every year. We need to work with the County Commission that we are balancing our growth with the fiscal responsibilities as a county so that we can ensure we don’t go in a lot of debt or increase it further.

Emily West covers Franklin and Williamson County government and schools for Home Page Media Group. Contact her at emily@franklinhomepage.com. Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.

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