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Carson, Davis square off for Farragut District 5 School Board seat


Distinctive lines in the sand have been drawn between Karen Carson and Elaine Davis.

Their fight for the non-partisan District 5 Knox County Board of Education seat ends with local and statewide primary elections Tuesday, March 6. Early voting runs Feb. 15-28.

Incumbent Carson, Board member since 2004 and former Board chair — now serving Farragut schools, Blue Grass and A.L. Lotts elementary schools and West Valley Middle School — has championed principal training and has expressed pride in her ability to connect with constituents.

Challenger Davis, an appointed Knox County Commissioner (Fourth District) from February to August 2008, has championed changes throughout Knox County Schools system that now allow for better volunteer and professional assistance in monitoring diabetic students.

Among their differences, Carson said that during Davis’ time on Commission, “There were two amendments … that were going to give more funding to schools.

“She voted against them.


“And then she made an amendment to take away the funding that went to the Great School Partnership, which directly supports education,” Carson added. “Those actions to me don’t speak well of a support for public education.”

Davis responded, “My concern was, I didn’t know how the money was being spent. There was a lot of questionable spending that was going on by [Mayor Mike Ragsdale’s] administration.

“I wanted to make sure that the dollars we were giving were getting to the classroom and going to the schools,” Davis added. “There were situations where they were telling folks that this is what they were spending money on, but it actually was going to a different place.

“The amendments that I voted on for the budget had to do with the general fund … we can’t make any changes to the school’s budget.”

In the end, “I voted in favor of the budget … what we adopted and passed in the 08-09 budget was $370 million for the schools, which was an increase of $12,580,000” versus 2007-08, Davis said.

Disagreeing with Carson’s “vote on outsourcing the janitors, and I spoke before the school board on that,” Davis is against turning over school sanitation to an outside firm, though Carson claims such a move would save the county “over $2 million.”

“My concern, No. 1, was safety of our children,” Davis said, pointing out that “subcontractor” background checks “was an unanswered question.”

Carson said she originally was against outsourcing because current school custodians didn’t have job guarantees with the low-bidding janitorial company taking over.

However, “The contract that was proposed to the Board offered every custodian and equal position, same benefits, same pay, same vacations, and at the same school they were at … I think some of the [medical insurance] co-pays were going to be a little more,” Carson added.

 

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