Rose, Graham Bring District Experience to School Board Race

Todays News

Photos: Karen Rose, David Graham

The next person serving on the Sarasota County School Board from District 2 will know the district from the outside and working within it.

Two candidates have their names in the ring for the open seat: Karen Rose, a former executive director middle schools for the district, and David Graham, an analytics worker. The nonpartisan race will be decided on Aug. 18 in an election open to all voters.

Rose, who in 2018 came within 1,000votes of unseating School Board member Shirley Brown, hopes experience on the campaign trail serves her well this election. But her background as a teacher, principal and district level administrator will be what makes her a strong School Board member, she said. “I have a wealth of experience that will be of advantage for students, staff performance and the community,” Rose said. ”We have skilled folks on our School Board, and I’d like to see them become a team where their skills compliment each other.” She also notes that helping launch smart classrooms in the district will be especially valuable as the district navigates more online learning needs in a pandemic.

Young is running his first race now, and said he too would bring some classroom experience to the board. While he works on data for the district, he has taught at the college and adult level. He felt motivated to run after attending numerous meetings and ultimately hearing a suggestion that if he wants the board to run differently, he should run. “I drove down and went to [Supervisor of Elections] Ron Turner’s Office immediately,” he said. He feels his experience in district operations from procurement to studying testing results will be of use with setting district-level policy.

Both candidates have been distressed at the fractious board discussions over the past few years, and the divisive rhetoric impacting the entire district under now-departed School Superintendent Todd Bowden. The board this week offered the top staff position to Brennan Asplen, and candidates hope to see the district move in a new direction, but that will require more of a team relationship at the board level.

For his part, Graham said he’s been surprised at the level of politics involved in a school position, and he’s criticized Rose for raising so much for a $38,000 a year job; records show Rose pulled in $70,000 in contributions and chipped in $4,700 in loans this cycle. He’s sworn off dark money. With that much money flowing, he says, “there’s a reason someone wants to be in a seat and itdoesn’t have to do with the kids.”

Rose dismisses the concern, noting she has the most individual contributions to her campaign to demonstrate she holds broad support. She’s a rare candidate backed by the teacher’s union and the Republican Party. “I have a well respected cross section of the community endorsing me and supporting me,” she said. “That includes business folks, teachers and a lot of families.”

Photos: Karen Rose, David Graham

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