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District 7 WCSB Candidates

District 7 is northwest Brentwood. If you vote at Brenthaven Church, Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home or New Hope Community Church, you’re in District 7. Confirm your district by entering your address here.


Incumbent Bobby Hullett


Facebook page: Liked by District 3 WCSB candidate Christy Coleman, District 4 WCSB member Anne McGraw, District 5 WSCB chair Gary Anderson, District 6 WCSB member Jay Galbreath, District 7 WCSB candidate Jennifer Luteran, District 11 WCSB candidate KC Haugh

Current school engagement: Two children who will be at Brentwood Middle and Lipscomb Elementary in August, wife a WCS teacher; current WCSB school board member

Professional: Senior IT Consultant at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; BBA in Sales/Marketing from the University of Memphis, Masters in Education in School Administration and Supervision from Lipscomb University, currently pursuing a Ph.D.

History: Has lived in Brentwood since 1980

Politics: First elected to the WCSB in 2012, self-identifies as Conservative

Other groups and associations: Alumni Steering Board for Leadership Brentwood

Endorsements: WillCo Rising PAC,Williamson Business PAC, District 7 County Commissioners Tom Bain and Bert Chalfant, former WCSB member Vicki Vogt

Public social media posts: N/A

“I have a very unique perspective because I’m a product of the schools. I went to school here. I taught in the schools. My wife is a teacher in the schools. I’m now a school board member so I have that experience, but also my kids go to school here.” “Businesses come because of a lot of different reasons, but the primary reason businesses come to Williamson County is education. They want their kids to have a solid foundation growing up. So they come here to put their kids into our schools, and they entrust us with the care of their kids.”

Jennifer Luteran


Facebook page: Liked by J. Lee Douglas (founder and president of 912 TN) who endorsed Burgos, Cash, Curlee and Emerson in 2014, County Commissioner Kathy Danner who endorsed Burgos, Curlee and Emerson ($150) in 2014 and Laurie Cardoza-Moore in 2015, 2014 County Commission candidate and 912 leader Cyndi Miller who endorsed Burgos ($500) and Curlee ($1000) in 2014, Denise Birnbaum who was Candy Emerson’s campaign treasurer, endorsed Laurie Cardoza-Moore in 2015, and supports Susan Curlee and Barb Sturgeon, Debbie DeaverPatsy Writesman who ran for WCSB in 2014 before endorsing Dan Cash, WCRP Executive Director Jean Barwick who endorsed Burgos, Cash, Curlee and Emerson in 2014, anti-WCS activist Julie West, Raymond Baker; Facebook friends with Susan Curlee, Jeremy Durham, Bev Burger, Julie West, Denise Boothby, Stuart Cooper

Current school engagement: Two children at Edmondson Elementary and one at Brentwood Middle; did not attend the 5/16 WCSB Candidate Panel on Special Education

Professional: Stay-at-home mom; business degree from Birmingham Southern and law degree from Cumberland School of Law

History: Moved to Williamson County in 2003 and Brentwood in 2013

Politics: Picked up a petition to run for District 7 County Commissioner in 2014 but did not file, self-identifies as Conservative

Other groups and associations: Co-founder of Williamson County Taxpayers Coalition, included on multiple Kent Davis emails during the 2014 WCSB election season, signed the fall 2014 petition to retain Mark Gregory as board chair

Endorsements: Williamson County Homeschool Coalition, 912 TN, RWWC, 2014 County Commission candidate and 912 leader Cyndi Miller who endorsed Burgos ($500) and Curlee ($1000) in 2014


Public social media posts:


Comments supporting Susan Curlee at 10/28/14 Centennial Let’s Talk School

“I have a deep passion for doing everything in my power to ensure that our school system empowers every child to become all that they can be.” “This includes making sure that every single dollar that can go into the classroom makes it to the classroom; that parents and teachers are never afraid to engage with our school board and central office; and to ensure that all activities and decisions surrounding our children made by the school system are done in a highly transparent manner.” “My hope is that decisions relating to growth will be made with community and parental input being taken into account. The need for rezoning is upon us. The process needs to be as open and transparent as possible.” “The Tennessean reported this week that Williamson County saw the largest percentage of job growth in the country from September 2014 to September 2015. It seems that our school system is one of the main reasons that businesses and families move to this area.” “Our local chamber of commerce felt recently that our schools were such an asset that they formed a PAC to help protect the reputation of those schools. I believe these same companies that benefit from the success of our schools could do more to support them, and I look forward to working with the chamber to find innovative win-win solutions for all concerned.”

Christopher Richards


Twitter: Followed by Susan Curlee and only 25 others

Current school engagement: Father of rising seventh-grade twins and a rising freshman at Brentwood Middle and Brentwood High

Professional: Stay-at-home dad

History: N/A

Politics: Has never run for office

Other groups and associations: Did not support the constituent-requested censure of Susan Curlee

“I feel it’s disruptive to the school board. [Hullett’s] efforts to censure Susan Curlee [12th District] appear to be a personal vendetta.”

Endorsements: N/A

Public social media posts: N/A

“I would like to think if elected, if anyone in Williamson County weren’t successful with the local school administration, they could come to me.” “I feel from [Bobby Hullett’s] actions on the board, he’s much more an advocate for the administration for the school, which is not his role. I’m not sure if he’s ever been against the administration at the school, not a single time.” “On a school board, as an individual, you have absolutely no power so you have to gain a consensus. If you’re criticizing everyone’s opinions constantly, it makes it difficult to have a consensus. I think a lot of the contention on the board has been because of Mr. Hullett.” “In our school system, I mentioned my kids are what Williamson County Schools refer to as ‘high achieving.’ They were bored, especially in math. At the elementary school level, we found very little access to classes like advanced math. We got our son tutored because we wanted more math.” “That notably changed when they went into middle school. … I would like to see opportunities for accelerated learning increased dramatically the same way they are at the middle and high school level.” “Despite my criticisms, I’ve been very happy in the school system as a whole.”
“I feel like Williamson County School is doing the best that they can. I met a parent that was upset that they were in upscale Brentwood and had their kid going to school in a trailer at Scales Elementary School. Some parents get mad. But quite simply put, the district is doing the best that they can. It just takes awhile to catch up. There is no simple solution other than the trailers right now.” “[Bobby Hullett’s] burned all his bridges. I don’t find that acceptable. I find it inappropriate that his wife is a teacher. You have a spouse to whom you’re voting on their full-time salary. It’s a conflict of interest, plus you’re evaluating the superintendent who your wife reports to. That brings up doubt in parents like me. Are you voting because of your spouse or that’s what you personally believe in?”
“When my kids were at Lipscomb Elementary, I contacted Mr. Hullett soon after his election in 2013 regarding a laundry list of items I had concern with, and he dismissed practically everything.” “The tipping point [to run for WCBOE] was last summer when [Hullett] received an ethics violation.” “I feel it’s disruptive to the school board. [Hullett’s] efforts to censure Susan Curlee [12th District] appear to be a personal vendetta.” “I would like to be involved in rulemaking, even as a parent. The state of Tennessee requires school districts to reach out to parents for their opinions on rules. … Parents should be involved in the rulemaking process.”

District 7 Home Page Candidate Survey Responses

Christopher Richards…what’s your philosophy on school rezoning, grandfathering and the anticipation of future growth for rezoning?During my current term on the Board, we have worked diligently to minimize the effect of grandfathering on school capacity, while trying to assist students and their families who are impacted by a rezoning in their area. This leads us to the topic of rezoning and the truth of the matter is that no one comes right out and says, “Please … rezone me.”The difficult decision for the board, and this is one that keeps me up at night, is that at times, it has to be done. Some rezonings I have supported, and others I have fought against. For example in 2013, Lipscomb Elementary went through a spot-rezoning. I offered an alternate plan to the board, and it was confirmed that my plan could work; however, it was not the recommendation of the superintendent or the board chair (at the time) and I lost that vote 2-10.Rezoning is an issue that we only broach when we reach the “point of pain,” where overcapacity forces our hand to do so. Often times, we then rely on our working relationship and partnership with our County Commission to expand our school system as we have done in Nolensville. At other times, with our spot-rezonings, we attempt to minimize the impact on students and families with the smallest affected number, such as the LES example.Many times, you will hear the phrase,”long range” or “long term” planning for zoning and rezoning. The component that is not known or not taken into account is that our Board of Education cannot levy taxes upon its residents. The County Commission is our funding body, and this is the example I use every time I explain this issue.The board could go the County Commission and request $1.5 billion and build three or four campuses across the county and stabilize growth for seven to 10 years. Our County Commission is responsible for governance and also to be good stewards of our tax dollars and they fight for every resident in our county. It is one of the great aspects of living here. However, if the County Commission were to agree to the request and fund it, there is truly only one option for them to accommodate the request – to raise taxes.This leads us to the way we do business with the County Commission. Take Ravenwood High School for example. The Board saw the growth ahead of its arrival, but we had to reach the “point of pain” (over capacity) to bring the three new Nolensville schools to the County Commission and receive their approval for funding.Ravenwood has been grossly overcapacity for two years. Finally, this fall as these new schools open, we will see relief. However, with the tremendous growth we are experiencing, that relief could be short-lived. This fall, the board will be discussing “district-wide rezoning.” This often leads to a sense of panic in our Williamson County Schools families, but what everyone should know is that everyone will not be affected.We are taking a different approach from the 2010 rezoning, which in my opinion was a failure. The fact is that Williamson County is the greatest place to live in Tennessee and families, and businesses continue to move here with one of the primary catalysts for this being Williamson County Schools.My philosophy is to try and keep feeder patterns intact whenever possible. I think that rising fifth-, eighth- and 12th-graders should be grandfathered. I also think that the sibling(s) of these students should be grandfathered as well if the sibling(s) is/are already at the existing school, or will be at the existing school the school year the rezoning is to take effect.Pretty soon Brentwood will be out of buildable lots. I know about 10 years ago they said we had seven years left before that happened.I have been fortunate that in the 12 years we have been in the school system our household has not been rezoned. However, I can very much understand the anxiety that this issue causes families. With one third of our schools over capacity, it’s an issue that we may need to deal with several times over the next 4 years. I think we need to manage expectations and communicate early and often with students and families affected by rezoning.It’s painful, and you need to keep everyone informed. All the meetings should be open, which is already done right now. But someone will feel the pain at the end of the day. With the amount of growth in Williamson, it’s impossible to avoid someone being upset. I would be upset if I were rezoned. Ultimately at the end of the day someone could move, but rezoning isn’t ideal either.We are faced with two solutions to school over-crowding: build the current school bigger or build a new school and rezone. A lot of our schools can be built larger so I think we should take that option whenever feasible.I support the current method that WCS uses to grandfather rezoned students because it allows for continuity of student experiences within a family while still achieving the rezoning objectives.I have built relationships with members of the Brentwood Planning Commission. I would work to keep communication channels open with planning commissioners at the city and county level in order to help WCSS anticipate future growth and be pro-active about where school expansion, additions and rezoning might need to take place.What is your position on standardized testing – is there too much, too little?I believe that testing is an important component in the evaluative process of students. However, I do believe that in recent years, we have grown to place an inordinate value on testing, especially high-stakes testing.I believe this has caused our profession to spend more time talking about teaching, rather than teaching. When you hear the phrase “teaching to the test,” the students are learning what they would be learning if they were not “teaching to the test.”The difference is that our professional educators do not have the time and resources they need to teach all of the complementary components to the subject matter to provide a truly well rounded experience. Teacher accountability tied to high-stakes is flawed. Beyond the school and district level, how can anyone at the state or even federal level know the strengths, abilities, successes, and yes, areas needed for growth, of our teachers based merely on a number reported out in a spreadsheet?Simply, they cannot. Our teachers, administrators, and central office professionals are clearly those best equipped for the assessment of our performance.I think that we have entirely too much standardized testing. I would like to see the return of the days where our children are tested once at the end of each school year. The current testing is too long, difficult and has reflected many examples of inappropriate content. I would have liked to see Williamson County Schools announce several weeks prior to TNReady part two that given the admitted failure of TNReady part one, our county would not be partaking in TNReady part two. We need to get back to letting our teachers teach.I think there is much too focus on standardized testing in Williamson County Schools. I understand the need to have benchmarks to ensure that the students are progressing but I think most parents would agree with me that the pressure put on our students, especially in the elementary grades, is too much. In addition the standardized tests are often not a good indicator of what a child has learned.I know from a parent’s perspective, I have become concerned with how much pressure is placed on these kids right before the tests are administered. The kids are told in one breath that testing is no big deal, but with many words and actions to the contrary, the clear message from the school system is that these tests are very important and poor performance on a test in third grade can adversely affect a student’s educational path throughout middle and high school years.They do well, but they don’t like the test. When my son was in third grade in the hyping of the TCAP, we told him don’t worry about it – it means nothing. He did very well in math school-wise, and he blew off the test. But we battled to get him into a more challenging math class. But the school system said because of his score, that’s the gospel truth. Clearly with him, it was not. We told him he can’t just blow it off anymore. And now, he usually just gets a perfect score on the test. I feel the pain of parents who may have smart kids, but don’t have kids that are good test takers.What is your position on Common Core?Common Core is now a non-issue and although it was a hot-button topic two years ago, it is now irrelevant. For those who might not know however, Common Core was often misunderstood and misrepresented, especially when it came to our Board of Education.Briefly, Common Core was composed of three elements: standards, testing, and data (data-mining).What you might not know in reading this is that our Board of Education, during my entire term from 2012 to present, took the following positions and these are all verifiable, as our meetings are open and public record.For standards, our board supported them as a floor, not a ceiling. This was an easy choice, as it provided a baseline of basic knowledge. Williamson County Schools, however, really had no issue with the standards as we have, and always will, exceed these standards. It is just what we do here.As for the testing (PARCC) and data-mining, the Williamson County Board of Education has always stood against these components. The testing, much like TNReady, was a disaster and left far too much hidden behind the curtain. Coupled to the data-mining component, the board made pronouncement after pronouncement that we were against these components.So the battle cry of supporting or opposing Common Core was actually misleading to our communities and provided volumes of misinformation to our families. And yes, I agree with the state phasing it out, however the Williamson County Schools Board of Education at that time asked this question of our state legislature.What do you have waiting in the wings to replace it? The answer was nothing and what we received was TNReady. Common Core could have easily been phased out with a suitable replacement developed before its removal. However in the highly charged political arena, the knee-jerk reaction brought us to today.I am not in support of Common Core. I think that it shouldn’t be phased out, but immediately eliminated, with all control being returned locally. The same policies that forced adoption of Common Core standards require use of the Common Core tests to evaluate educators and students.These tests have been shown to be unreliable and inaccurate. The costs of the tests, which have multiple pieces throughout the year plus the computer platforms needed to administer and score them, are enormous and come at the expense of more important things. I am afraid that if we continue to support Common Core’s “college and career ready” platform, we will push more kids out of high school than we will prepare for college.There has been a lot of confusion and inconsistency with the way that Common Core was introduced to Tennessee. Like most parents, I initially adopted a “wait and see” approach to the transition to Common Core curriculum. However, I found the materials introduced to elementary schools were undermining the flexibility and creativity in classroom teaching techniques. Instead of “teaching to the test” as was the original criticism that resulted in the introduction of Common Core, educators were simply handing out worksheets to students. From my perspective as a parent, Common Core teaches to the lowest common denominator and leaves the majority of high achieving students in a holding pattern waiting for their classmates to catch up. I appreciate the latest approach that Gov. Haslam is taking with allowing public review and feedback of state education standards and hope Common Core (by any name) does not make a return here to Tennessee.I experienced it as a parent and didn’t enjoy it. I saw the handouts and the tests. We ran into questions where there wasn’t a clear correct answer. We struggled with our kids. We immediately started disliking it. That’s when my daughters were in fourth grade, and they started backing away after that. Most parents saw that pretty quickly.What do you think of current state education standards?I believe our state standards are strong but can always be improved over time. In addition, as I stated before, Williamson County Schools has and always will teach beyond these standards. It is just what we do.From what I have reviewed, the new state standards are Common Core standards with nothing changed but the name. The parents and educators have made it clear that they do not support Common Core. Simply renaming the standards is not what they asked for.The social studies standard is currently under review, and open for public comment. I think this is a great opportunity for parents to speak out about what they feel is OK for their kids to be learning. If parents have a concern about religion being taught in the classroom now is the time for their voices to be heard by the Tennessee State Board of Education. In addition the science standard is currently in the second phase of public feedback. Recent legislation has allowed a more thorough review of the Tennessee educations standards so we do not implement another Common Core type standard.To me it seems that the state standards, and Common Core, teaches to the lowest common denominator. There were a lot of smart kids at Lipscomb. You think you would be able to teach to a lot of kids who are smart. We wanted to get our kids more challenged. I don’t know how much that has to do with standards. My son was bored, and wanted more and more. We went outside of the school to find other ways to get him challenged.Do you think world religions should be part of history or social studies curricula?This is another hot-button, political-agenda-driven issue. The answer for me is yes.How can we possibly hope to develop well rounded, balanced, culturally educated students, who then become young adults, who then become adults, if we do not include the basic understanding of world religions? We do not live in a vacuum.The world around us is changing moment to moment and we live in a globally competitive marketplace society. Our children deserve to have a robust culturally infused education. To deny them this is to deny them a competitive advantage in their years beyond WCS. We do not indoctrinate our students. We never have and we never will, no matter how many campaign flyers might say it this summer.I know that I am partially quoting here, but ignorance will lead to fear and fear will lead to hate. Our children deserve better and providing them with an understanding of the world around them is essential to the defense against such ignorance, fear, and hate.I have no problem in teaching world religions as part of this curriculum as long as it is taught accurately with no biases to one religion or the other.I am not a fan of any religion being taught in the public schools. Religion is a very personal subject and it is easy to misinterpret or offend without intending to. I understand that the current education standards for social studies are dictated by the state. I am happy to see Gov. Haslam and the education board actively soliciting feedback on social studies standards. I personally would like to see religion taught at higher grade levels (e.g. high school) and with a historical emphasis and not a value-based perspective.I understand there are world events, clearly 9/11 is based on world religion. That part of mentioning religion – the crusades, the Catholics. My kids, two of them said they weren’t comfortable being taught them. My pastor had a concern if they were teaching Christianity correctly. Sixth and seventh grades are a little young.What is your opinion of the current state of WCS and the current leadership?Dr. [Mike] Looney has my full support and always has, even when he and I have disagreed. He is simply the best in the business. In the coups to oust him as our superintendent, I led the charge to keep him.I have always been outspoken, much to a few others chagrin, in my support of Mike and his administration. Before Mike arrived, our district showed “As” in performance, but “Ds” in growth. This became his mission and through our strategic plan, in cooperation with the community, we have achieved “As” in both performance and growth.One huge success to note – part of this plan was a goal of raising our district-wide ACT average to a 24, which was a Herculean lift. Under Dr. Looney’s leadership and the dedication of our students and teachers to the learning environment, we believe that this year, we will not only meet, but exceed this goal.I think that our schools are a wonderful asset to our community. The schools have active parental involvement and wonderful teachers and staff. I think that Dr. [Mike] Looney has a very difficult job and takes this responsibility very seriously.The school board has been somewhat dysfunctional lately. I attribute this to very different personalities on the board as well as the disrespectful tone of certain board members. We need a board that can function as one cohesive unit, and I don’t see that being a possibility with this current board.The current incumbent of the District Seven seat has been combative and disagreeable with his fellow board members. His list of insults to fellow board members is long and, in my opinion as a resident of District Seven, his behavior while in office has been embarrassing. Last year, he called then-chairman of the school board, PJ Mezera “pathetic” and “spineless” because he did not think PJ was supporting Dr. Looney enough.He has lashed out at fellow board members questioning their religious values, and stated that current residents of Williamson County should “pack up and leave” if they do not agree with his opinion on the subject of Islam. His behavior is not conducive to building bridges with other school board members or parents. In addition he has been disciplined for ethics code violations.My approach to initiatives and proposals from other board members or parents is to be open to all viewpoints and to discuss issues until common ground can be reached. While we may have different approaches and solutions in mind, I think that all parents and school board members have the best interest of students and teachers at heart. I plan to work toward building relationships, and not shutting down discussion.Dr. Looney has shown that he has the broad support of Williamson County residents. I believe there are a limited number of people who would like to see him replaced, but after the vote last July to continue his contract, it would be prohibitively expensive to oust Dr. Looney and begin the search for another superintendent. In addition to the monetary cost, the disruption to the school system would be unacceptable. I was impressed with how he handled the latest TNReady failure. I don’t support that and it’s expensive, and they are still advocating for that.What is the best thing about WCS?Our students, families, teachers, and administrators. Their best interests is what I fight for, every day. Our students, in all that they do, are a beacon of excellence in our state, region, and nation. Not a day goes by where I do not wake up thankful that my sons attend our schools. I am product of Williamson County Schools, as is my wife, who is also a teacher in the district. We have made and kept our home here because of Williamson County Schools.The parents, teachers and children. Without these three, our schools would not be the number one county in the state.This answer is easy, the students. They are an inspiration. Recently while my daughter was rehearsing for the Brentwood Middle School play, I had a chance to sit in on the rehearsal. Watching these kids rehearse so professionally was inspiring to see. Of course, the real magic starts when they start to perform. It is amazing to see what confidence and skills that these kids have. Even more important is their academic performance and dedication to school. They are willing to go into school early and leave late in order to do some extra learning. The support that parents, teachers and counselors can provide will help, but it’s the students themselves who show their motivation and dedication to succeed.I was already running for office when my daughter got the lead in the play. I hadn’t seen much of their performances. I went and sat in one of the rehearsals. There are just some fabulous singers and it really touched me, and this is what’s it all about. They are so mature, and the performance they did was really professional and that it was touching. Obviously, it made me more motivated to run for the school board and prevent political squabble.What needs attention and what aspect of it could need adjustment?The three main issues for me are growth, testing, and facilities. We have discussed growth and testing. Our facilities and the resources to maintain them are incredibly important, as they house the educational environment that our dedicated professionals create for our growing young minds.From the growth perspective, from time to time we will need to build a new campus. Engaged families and businesses will continue to move here, and I use the bathtub analogy to describe this. At this moment, our bathtub – facilities related to the capacity and number of students attending – is overflowing. It is not enough to flood the house yet. Rezoning without adding new facilities, only causes the water in the tub to slosh from one end to the other over a period of years.So, yes, we will as our growth continues, so will the need for additional campuses. The maintenance and renovation of our existing buildings is of extreme importance as well. I represent two of the oldest schools in the county – Brentwood Middle School and Brentwood High School.This month, we will be evaluating a plan to address the capacity issues at these schools, which will ultimately affect our three elementary feeders as well. The support of these initiatives maintenance and upgrading/equity ultimately falls on the County Commission to approve and fund the plans the Board of Education submits to them.We have a positive partnership with the County Commission and at times, we do not always agree, but know that your Board of Education and me as one of its members, will always work to provide for the needs of our students, families, schools, and communities and to protect those best interests.I believe that our schools could explore other means to bring additional resources to our schools. I would like to see the business community and the schools work more closely together in a beneficial manner for both.I would also like bring about greater transparency to the budget, rezoning and educational process.If I want to look at the 2016 budget, you can’t find it online. It might be buried to an attachment on a school board agenda, but it’s not on the website under budget. We need to have an open checkbook, and we as taxpayers need to know where the money is being spent. It needs to be broken down where the average person can look at it and offer savings suggestions.Williamson County is lucky to have a lot of “high achieving” students, but these students are often left without a lot of resources at the elementary school level. I would like to solicit and implement new ideas to challenge these bright children so that they do not become disinterested and start to disengage from school.Another concern I have seen is with high teacher turnover in some schools. I have spoken with quite a few teachers who are unhappy, and I know we have lost quite a few good teachers. We saw a lot of good teachers leave. Some of them came to the middle school. And I am guessing there are other schools like that, and I am not sure what the problem is. I would like to fix the issues that cause these teachers to leave.Many parents have mentioned to me that they are concerned about school overcrowding. The Williamson County school system needs to find a way to get ahead of the massive growth that is happening in our neighborhoods. I think the administration and board members are starting to progress with first determining maximum school size, but much more needs to be done. Rezoning is a disruptive event for many families and I would like to minimize the number of rezoning events by being smart about anticipating growth within the school districts.


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