PORT CHARLOTTE — Joe Williams will be running against Charlotte County School Board member Kim Amontree. This is his second run for the District 2 seat. The Sun reached out to Williams recently regarding his background and goals.
Here is what he had to say:
What inspired you to run against incumbent Kim Amontree?
I have been sending my children to our schools for the last 17 years. Over this time I have seen the best and worst of our schools. I have taken my concerns to the administration over the years and have been unsatisfied with many of the outcomes. Most of the time I was told we would just have to agree to disagree. That is not acceptable to me. We can do better in a lot of areas. Rather than just complain, I choose to get involved.
What qualifications do you feel could help you win this race?
Experience. I have 5 daughters and I have been sending my children to our schools for 17 consecutive years. There is not much I haven’t seen over that time. I still have a child attending Punta Gorda Middle School. I have seen the results of our educational system firsthand and unfiltered. I have seen issues go unresolved for years that, if fixed, could make significant improvements to our student’s success. These are issues that the current board are unaware of or refuse to address. I am also fiscally responsible. I believe this quality will go a long way toward bringing our school budget under control. I will not vote for record budgets and tax increases year after year. I am goal driven and results oriented. I will bring outside the box solutions to many of our problems and I will get things done.
What improvements would you like to see happen in Charlotte County Schools?
There are many areas in need of improvement. The budget is a big concern. We can’t continue to produce record budgets year after year. Parent/teacher communication. Parents often do not know what is happening in the classroom. Teachers need to reach out to parents when a student is not performing up to expectations. This simple communication will result in better outcomes for these students. High school start times are too early and put our children at risk. We need to find a way to fix this. Studies have shown that start times closer to 8:30 result in better student achievement. Students will be safer, get more sleep and be more attentive in class. Report cards. They used to be sent out and required a parent signature. Currently they are not in our middle and high schools. We need to go back to what worked and start sending them out again. Period. I have a lot of things I would like to see changed. Student discipline, medication policy, the Academy, head lice, school board salary reform, school safety and more.
What would be your priority if you win this seat?
To make Charlotte County Schools the best and safest in the state. To do that we will have to change some of our ways. My priority will be to see that we make the necessary changes to produce these results. We can be the best in the state but it will take a new approach. Business as usual will only produce the same results. Spending more money will not fix our problems and ignoring them will not make them go away.
What issues did the School Board not address in the past several years that you would have liked to address?
This answer will be much the same as question 3. Many of these things have been going on for a long time. The school system has refused to even recognize some of these things as problems. Others they recognize but lack the common sense to fix them. More in general, there seems to be less accountability and concern for the parents and taxpayers than there used to be. We have transparency issues and straight answers are hard to come by. I will change this. I am the only one running who will.