William (Bill) Brantley, a building contractor, is running for the District 4 seat on the school board.
Brantley, a 1988 graduate of Lake Placid High School, said family is the most important thing in his life, which is his motivation for running for a seat on the school board.
He graduated with an AA in business from South Florida Community College in 1990 and graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in business in 1992.
Brantley has been a licensed building contractor for 15 years in Highlands County and a licensed Realtor in Highlands Country for 20 years.
He served on the Lake Placid Town Council for six years and served as the vice mayor for two years.
Brantley lives in Lake Placid with his wife, Denise, and their two children, one entering kindergarten and one entering fourth grade.
Why are you running for a seat on the school board?
My family is the most important thing in my life and they are my motivation for running for this seat.
Describe your personal experience and involvement with the public schools in the past five years that qualifies you as a school board member.
First and foremost I am a parent of two school-aged boys, ages 5 and 8, so from day one I have taken a serious interest in what would be best for them regarding their education.
I am also a business man who recognizes that there are not unlimited funds available to the school system. In a perfect world school districts and teachers would want for nothing, having everything they needed to give the best education to each and every deserving student.
But there are not unlimited funds and we cannot spend more than what we take in. So it is extremely important to examine the budget and streamline where possible so we can keep as much money as possible in the classrooms.
What major challenges do you see now or in the future for the school district?
In this economic crisis I feel that funding is the most challenging obstacle that our schools face now and in the future. I will make it a priority that as much of your tax dollars as possible are spent in the classroom and will work carefully to streamline administrative costs.
Do you believe the board or the superintendent should have addressed any issues differently such as: the seven-period day for secondary teachers, personnel reductions or personnel assignments, budget decisions, etc?
It would be hard for me to give my opinion on any of the above issues or to fault our school board on decisions they made during their time in office. I will need to focus on the issues that are presented to the board while I am in office and make the best decisions I can at that time.
What challenges or new initiatives would you like to see in the Highlands County Schools?
Accountability across the board: financial, parental and student accountability.
The county's FCAT scores continually trail the state average and the district's three high schools have been underperformers with D or C accountability grades, what is needed to boost students academically in Highlands County?
I feel that we need to ask the teachers in Highlands County who perform the task at hand what they feel needs to be done. They will have better answers to what the shortcomings are and how to correct this ongoing issue.
Can you think of any district expenses that should be cut?
We should review the policy of having both an assistant principal and a dean to see if we can restructure those costs.
Do you support merit pay for teachers?
At first glance and after speaking to several teachers in the school district, I believe that merit pay will cause an unhealthy competition in the classroom.
Should the superintendent be elected or appointed?
I believe that the superintendent should be appointed to ensure the best individual is in this position. This being an appointed position will allow us to search outside of Highlands County if needed to find the most qualified applicant for the job.
What is the most important responsibility of a school board?
The school board should continue to have fluid communication with the faculty and administration in an effort to implement strong policies and procedures.