Gail Dean

Gail Dean.

Occupation: District 3 Representative, Fulton County Board of Education; Owner and Beekeeper, Mountain Lake Honey, Retired Business Owner

Previous elected offices held: Elected to the Fulton County Board of Education, District 3, in 2000, and have served continuously since then, representing families and taxpayers in the Riverwood, North Springs and Tri-Cities areas.

Other community service experience: Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association, President; Georgia Beekeepers Association, Legislative Committee Chair; Heards Ferry Elementary School, PTA President and Governance Council Chair; High Point Elementary School, PTA Cultural Arts Chair

What is motivating you to run for this office?

I am passionate about the people of this district and have the experience and ability to advocate for children and taxpayers alike. During my 19-year tenure as your representative, I have focused on financial and academic accountability, transparency in governance; and allocations of SPLOST taxpayer dollars for new schools, renovations and technology in my district. I have worked hard to guide Fulton County Schools to the highest graduation rate and lowest millage rate in the metro Atlanta area, and want to continue this successful trajectory.

What is the biggest issue facing the school district and how will you address it?

Returning students and teachers safely back to school. We must give support and assistance to teachers and students through special academic programs and data analysis, positioning Fulton Schools as the leader. We are challenged to improve education quality in remote learning, identifying any gaps created by the pandemic, and respond quickly to the changing environment. In this economy, our taxpayers’ and parents’ pocketbooks are reeling. I will be sensitive to the unusual needs this has created for our students, parents and taxpayers, and will continue to work with the Legislature to reduce school taxes for Fulton seniors.

What strengths and weaknesses have the coronavirus pandemic crisis revealed in the school district?

Our school board is in frequent video meetings, focusing on teaching and learning, including social and emotional support, teacher training, student counseling, academic programming and support for parents and teachers. The initial roll-out of additional computing devices was not as smooth as it could have been, but soon we had them in the hands of all 3-5th graders. Along with 6-12th graders, they could be actively engaged in remote learning, with extra support for parents navigating the myriad of software. We successfully ramped up our school lunch distribution program, serving 72,200 meals this week, up 1,940 from last.

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.