With this issue, we begin our recommendations of candidates in the Aug. 26 election.
In addition to the party primaries, the Aug. 26 ballot will have candidates for non-partisan offices: judges and school board members.
Three members of the seven-member school board have challengers in their bids for another term.
Hazel Sellers has served on the board for 12 years, including three years as chairman.
She was a classroom teacher for 25 years, followed by five years training teachers and supervising the gifted education program. That career, plus her 12 years on the school board, represents 42 years of commitment to public education.
She clearly deserves four more years.
In her tenure on the board, Polk County schools have created an “extended learning time” program in the summer that focuses on children being raised in poverty, the youngsters most likely to fall behind in their studies during the summer months.
She has helped create a system of career-oriented academies to prepare high school students for employment upon graduation. Bartow High School has been a leader in this movement, and is one of two schools in the county in which every student will be enrolled in an academy as well as in regular academic classes in the coming school year.
The academy program is different in every school, offering career preparation in areas ranging from police and fire protection to health skills to electric distribution to aviation to fine arts. Students are free to change academies after two years if they discover their interests lie in another field.
The academies do not limit students to the field of specialization in which they are enrolled, but give them occupational training which can lead to employment immediately upon graduation.
Sellers also has been a leader in the new “Alignment Polk” program, which will bring together an array of government agencies, non-profit organizations, foundations, and social welfare groups to address major problems of young people, ranging from gangs to teenage pregnancy.
During her most recent term as chairman of the school board, she also served as president of the Bartow Rotary Club and the Zonta Club of Bartow. Hers is an impressive resumé of leadership.
Her opponent, Randy Wilkinson, has a populist following that serves him well at the ballot box, but he lacks the leadership and educational credentials of the incumbent.
We enthusiastically recommend the re-election of Hazel Sellers to the Polk County School Board.