5 BOE posts up for election this year

CONYERS - Five of the seven seats on the Rockdale County Board of Education are up for election this year. Two members, however, have already said they do not plan to put their names before voters again.

Those up for election this year are positions held by board members Jean Yontz, Travis Collins, Wales Barksdale, Darlene Hotchkiss and Tolbert Morris.

The seats held by Jeff Dugan and Katrina McCollum-Young are up for re-election in 2010.

Both Collins, who is serving his third term, and Morris, who is serving his first term, said they are giving up their board seats after this year.

Fellow board member Hotchkiss, who is also serving her third term, said she hasn't yet decided whether to seek re-election.

"It's too early," she said Thursday.

On the other hand, Barksdale, who is beginning his fourth year on the local Board of Education, said he will "probably" run for office in the fall. Yontz said she is "planning on" seeking re-election for her third term in office.

So far, no other candidates have announced their intention to seek a position on the BOE.

Those interested in running for election to the nonpartisan Board of Education can qualify at the Rockdale Board of Elections office located at 1400 Parker Road. The qualifying period begins at 9 a.m. June 23 and lasts until noon June 27. The qualifying fee is $75.

Unregistered voters who would like to vote in the Nov. 4 general election have until Oct. 6 to register.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: Two BOE members not seeking re-election

CONYERS - Two Board of Education members - Travis Collins and Tolbert Morris - announced Thursday that they would not seek re-election in November.

Collins said he plans to say good-bye to the board after 12 years of service.

"I think that's enough," he said. "I'd like to see some new blood in there. I'll miss parts of it, but after 12 years, it's time for me to move aside."

Collins said his time on the board has been "fantastic."

"It's been a great experience, one of the most worthwhile things I've ever done," he said.

During his time, Collins has served as both vice chairman and chairman of the school board.

"I've got to work with some great people," he said. "Our leadership team really understands what is necessary to improve student achievement. They know what to do."

His youngest son will graduate from Rockdale County High School this year, but Collins plans to stay involved with the school system even after his term ends at the end of December.

"Both of my boys did wrestling at Rockdale, and I've always volunteered with that, so I plan to continue that," he said. "It's such a great way to connect with kids on a personal level."

Morris, who is serving in his first four-year term, also is not seeking re-election.

He was elected to the board in November 2004. Morris, who owns Conyers-based Helping Hands Outreach, which helps children and low-income families, was not available for comment by press time.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.