Berry, Armstrong win school board seats

By Abby Morris

Elizabethton residents showed their faith in experience during the election by returning Bob Berry and Catherine Wooten Armstrong to the Elizabethton City School Board.
   Incumbents Berry and Armstrong defeated William "Sonny" Hunt for the two open seats on the board.
   "I'm glad to be back on the board for four more years," Berry said.
   Armstrong echoed his sentiment. "I'm just so appreciative," she said. "I feel very humble about this whole experience."
   Experience is important in the decision making process of a board member, Armstrong said.
   "All those years of teaching and having been on the board in the past helps me make decisions," she said. "It's a great help because I've been there."
   One important decision to be made by the board is an issue that is close to Berry's heart, teachers' salaries.
   "One big thing we need to look at is teacher pay," Berry said, adding that when teachers do not have to worry about their salaries, they are able to focus more on the job they are to perform.
   Standardized test scores are another concern of Berry's. "We rank high in the state," he said, adding that one of his goals on the school board is to help the city maintain that high level of achievement.
   Salaries and test scores are important to Armstrong, but her main focus as a member of the school board will be the children.
   "Always you have to think of the children," she said. "You never make a decision without thinking of the children, even if it is just one child."
   Armstrong said that when she had previously been on the board, she kept pictures of her grandchildren around her desk to help serve as a reminder of what she was there to accomplish and how her decisions would effect the children of the school system.
   She said she doesn't want to see the children of the school system only prepared for tests, but for anything they may wish to achieve. "I want the children to live happy lives," she said.
   In this election, much debate was heard on the topic of initiating a state lottery, which was proposed to help support education in Tennessee. Though the vote was close, the constitutional amendment to allow for a state lottery was approved.
   Armstrong said she is not sure how a state lottery would affect education.
   "I'll just have to watch and see if it really does help the children and education," she said. "I hope it does, but I don't know if it will or it won't."
   Berry feels the lottery has the potential to help education if it is appropriated the right way.
   Many states who use the lottery to fund education direct that money to higher education, Berry said, adding that he feels that part of the money should go to K-12 education and part to higher education.
   "We have to get our children ready to go to college," he said.