ALBANY — Darton State College Assistant Professor of Economics Aaron Johnson has no doubt he is the most qualified candidate for the Dougherty County School Board’s District 4 seat, and can rattle off those qualifications when asked.
“The combination of my nine years of college teaching experience, six years in the finance industry, and my commitment to civic service makes me uniquely qualified for the challenges faced by the Dougherty County School System,” Johnson, who is pitted against business woman Melissa Strother in the May 20 Democratic primary, said. “As an assistant professor at Darton State College, I am in day-to-day contact with students who were educated by the Dougherty County School System. There are many successes and many challenges I see as it relates to college readiness. I am already part of the process in preparing these students for the workforce. I want to contribute more to the K-12 experience as they transition to college or to the workforce.”
Johnson points out that as a finance professor, he would bring a unique skill set to the board.
“Given my professional finance experience, I am ideally suited to handle the budgetary issues that may arise in the Dougherty County School System,” He said. “I have worked in various capacities in banking, telecommunications, and financial services where I performed financial statement analysis and assessed budgetary processes. As a board member, I believe that I can provide sound advice on how to make tough decisions with (the DCSS’s annual) $122 million budget.
His major concern about the DCSS is the system’s lack of developing college ready students.
“Our most pressing issue is developing college ready students. By 2020, 61 percent of all jobs in Georgia will require completion of a career certificate or college degree,” Johnson said. “I am concerned that approximately one-third of the Dougherty County School System students require at least one class of remediation at Darton. Having to complete one or more remediation classes greatly reduces the probability of graduation, so it is my goal to reduce that number.”
Johnson says some of the system’s elementary and middle schools can point the way for the rest of the district.
“Of course, Lake Park and Lincoln Elementary are regular standouts and that is shown in their performance on the College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI),” he said. “Both schools outperform the state average. At the middle school level, Robert Cross is a leader in the region and is currently the highest rated school in the Dougherty County School System. While it is true that two of the three schools are able to restrict enrollment based on academic performance, it is also true that many of these students face socioeconomic challenges, such as poverty and single-headed households, that they are able to successfully overcome.