ROSWELL — Kira Willis, a veteran educator with 18 years of direct classroom experience, announced her candidacy Tuesday for the Republican nomination for Georgia’s State School Superintendent.
Willis joins four other republicans in the primary, including ex-DeKalb County School Board Member and actuarial consultant Nancy Jester; defense contractor, retired army officer and community activist Fitz Johnson; Bartow County School Board Member, pharmaceutical sales executive & USMC veteran Mark Schultz; and retired school administrator, ex-Teacher and 2010 candidate Richard Woods.
State Rep. Alisha Morgan is the lone democratic candidate in the field thus far. The candidates are vying to replace current superintendent John Barge, who has entered the GOP primary against Gov. Nathan Deal.
“After much deliberation, prayer, and discussion, my husband, Todd and I have decided that I will run in the Republican Primary in May, 2014. We believe that Georgia can do better and that Georgia’s children deserve better than what they have now. I believe that our parents and children must have a choice when it comes to their education, and I can ensure that they will get that choice.”
Willis emphasized the need for greater educational choice, and promised to redirect Georgia’s educational spending into the classroom, particularly with regard to teacher salaries, and pointed out that while overall education spending has increased slightly over the past decade, Georgia’s education spending has not kept pace with student population growth.
“Since 1996, we’ve increased educational spending in Georgia every year but three,” said Willis, “but ask any teacher: They’re not seeing it in their classrooms, and they’re sure not seeing it in their paychecks. We haven’t kept pace with student growth, and we’re in the bottom third of per-pupil spending compared to other states.”
“We need to stop telling students that their educational opportunities are solely based upon their address. I will work to ensure that students in our state have the same educational opportunities no matter where they live,” Willis said. “School choice will allow a freer market in Georgia education, using competition to improve all of our schools without taking any public monies away from them.”
In 2010, Willis ran for State School Superintendent as a Libertarian, and garnered over 125,000 votes. She said she believes those voters will continue to support her as the experienced, conservative choice to lead Georgia’s education system.
“I was conservative in 2010 and I’m even more convinced that conservative values of increasing school choice and prioritizing spending are the keys to improving Georgia’s education system and making sure every child in Georgia can get a decent education,” said Willis.
Willis taught at Woodland Middle School, Centennial High School and Roswell High School over 18 years and has worked as a Graduation Coach and Response to Intervention (RTI) Coordinator at North Springs Charter High School in Fulton County for the last two years. She is certified as an Educational Specialist in Curriculum and Instruction, holds a Masters in Education Leadership, from Kennesaw State University.
Kira is married to Todd Willis, an assistant principal at Elkins Pointe Middle School in Fulton County. The Willis’ attend North Point Community Church in Alpharetta and make their home in Roswell (where Kira grew up) with daughter Harper, age 6, son Tanner, age 4, and dog Jerry, age 11.
The state primaries are set for May 20, 2014 with run-offs scheduled for August 5, 2014. The general election is set for Nov. 4, 2014.