Lynn Wilson faces incumbent Debra Smith Wright for District 6 in his bid to win the four-year Polk County School Board seat that pays an annual salary of $40,135. A 57-year-old certified public accountant who is the director of finance for the Polk State College Foundation, Wilson wants to clean up what he calls sloppy and inaccurate bookkeeping.
“We haven’t had a clean audit in over four years,” said Wilson, a Winter Haven resident with 30 years of accounting experience. “There were a number of years that auditors routinely cited the district for numerous and serious infractions including mismanagement of taxpayer dollars. We now have a massive debt and this year alone the district will have to write a check in the amount of $19 million just on the debt service.”
In addition to prudently managing the finances of the district, Wilson said the district’s other responsibility is to provide quality education in a clean and safe environment. He is concerned about the percentage of Polk students who are graduating functionally illiterate in reading, math and writing.
“According to the Department of Education, 86 percent of students who graduate will require remediation because they don’t have 12th-grade skill sets,” Wilson stated. “We need to focus on viable options for non-traditional college bound students to get in programs so they will be able to earn, not a minimum wage, but a living wage.”
Wilson, who taught accounting, finance and business at Polk State College for 16 years and served as chair of the accounting department, detailed the success he had in his classroom. “My solution is to provide internships and apprenticeships in the workplace. The students get the mentorship they need and learn skill sets so when they come back to the classroom they’re ready to learn.”
Married for 32 years with two children, Wilson said he grew up under difficult circumstances in a low-income environment so he knows first-hand how life changing education can be. “I’m doing this because I have a passion for education. I’d like to see every child in Polk County have the opportunity to achieve their dreams and goals through a quality education.”
Wilson said he believes that we have a responsibility to provide our students with every resource necessary to ensure their success and is concerned about an increase in failing schools.
“There are now eight failing schools and a dramatic increase in D schools,” Wilson said. “We owe Mrs. Wright a debt of gratitude for her substantial service, but when she took office, there were no failing schools. What is her plan to turn around failing schools?”
Wilson said he is the only candidate running with no ties to the school district. “Of course, it is important to have educators on our school board. We desperately lack balanced oversight on the financial side. Until you get the finances under control, providing good quality education will be a very difficult thing to do.”
Wilson has a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Central Florida and a master’s in business administration from Florida Southern College.
After two previous unsuccessful attempts to be elected to the board seat, Wilson said he’s taking a different approach by retaining the services of a professional to manage his campaign.
Wilson has been endorsed by the Business Voice-Lakeland Chamber of Commerce and recommended by the Lakeland Association of Realtors, the East Polk County Association of Realtors and the Polk County Builders Association. District 6 is in southeast Polk County and includes Lake Wales, Frostproof and Eagle Lake.
Call 863-397-0066, email lynnfor email@example.com or visit www.lynnwilson2014.org for more information.