The Bartlett Board of Alderman Race – Position 6

The Bartlett Board of Alderman race is an important race this year. Position 6 was vacated by John Barzano about a year ago and Jay Rainey(former Bartlett City Administrator) was appointed to fill out the rest of the term. The race for this seat is between two candidates: Jason Sykes and Paula Sedgwick.

The Bartlett Board of Alderman is important to how this city functions. They create the ordinances, approve the city budget, set the city tax rate, and set the strategic direction for the city of Bartlett. They chair committees that deal with things like historic preservation, approve alcohol permits, oversee revitalization projects in Bartlett Station.

Why are these things important? Because decisions that they make impact YOU directly. They impact your Bartlett City Taxes. They impact how many police officers are on the street or how many first responder are available for fires or ambulances. Their policies impact how clean the city is and how we deal with criminals. They impact availability for crossing guards for schools, fields for our children to play soccer and football, and maintenance of the beauty of our city.

In this race, I think it is important to remember that this affects us locally. I also think that two big issues come to mind for me over the short and long-term that impact the viability of this city. That would be strategic direction and schools. The Board of Alderman will be one of the local funding bodies for schools and will need to work closely with the new school board.

I personally know both candidates. I like both candidates. Both are strong Republicans. Both have supported Bartlett Schools. I think both would do a good job. However, i do have a strong opinion as it pertains to whom I think we NEED.

We need someone who loves Bartlett. We need someone who lives, sleeps, and breathes this city and looks out for its interests. Someone who will help compete and push Bartlett forward in areas of economic expansion, stong supporter of our police and fire, and someone who supports our schools. Someone who will be an accountability partner for our mayor and who has a faith that drives their decisions. Someone who can be their own person and stand on their own to do what is right.

With that being said, my support is 100% behind Jason Sykes. Jason meets all of the criteria I have laid out above and more. It has been amazing to me over the past two years to see how his level of involvement has grown in the Bartlett community being both part of leadership Bartlett and sitting on various Bartlett commissions. Jason understands the budgeting process, the ordinance process,  and is 100% committed to Bartlett Schools as was evidenced in his work with Better Bartlett Schools. His youthful involvement and support brings energy to our community and encourages young people to get involved in the political process. Jason is a good friend, a good listener, and is always available.

I encourage all of my friends and colleagues to support Jason Sykes on November 6th for Bartlett Board of Alderman Position 6.

Progress

After a year of political posturing and other machinations, the school board is finally beginning to make progress towards a merged school district. Last night, my colleagues and I began to take the first steps toward approving what will be the new Shelby County School System in 2013. Our initial focus has been on two areas: Merger of IT systems and Educational Services.

Most of the educational services recommendations last night dealt with teachers and administrators and use of TEI initiatives to drive quality in our teaching corps. This included things like hiring and transfer practices such as mutual consent, etc. The importance of these teacher initiatives gives the board flexibility to reward, promote, and discipline effective and ineffective teachers.

The big ticket item approved Thursday night was our back-end enterprise ERP system to merge all of our financial, HR, and accounting functions into one system. The price tag was placed at 13.9 million dollars. However thsi included the system, development, implementation, project management, training, and testing. This is a huge step forward as it will drive capital and operational cost savings over the next several years. If we would have kept the same systems on both sides, we would have spent millions of dollars integrating the two, and creating a system complexity that was expensive and difficult to support. The right call was to merge the IT systems.

Our next steps become More complicated as we begin to deal with things like expansion of Pre-K which is a great aspiration but very expensive.I support Pre-K but we have to determine its cost and its affordability. we also begin to deal with school closures, outsourcing of custodial, busses, and other areas for cost savings.

We will also begin to deal with attendance zones and our transfer rules and policies. Many controversial components that will be vetted based upon good, quantitative data and cost/benefit, at least that will be my perspective.

Lost in all of this discussion is the reality of municipal school districts. However, it reamins in the back of our minds as we build capacity in things like systems and other areas to allow subscriber based services to these new districts.

However, at this point, it is just one step at a time.