BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Tom Hedges is running for the district four seat on the Bay County school board against Winston Chester.
Who is Tom Hedges?
Hedges is a U.S. Army veteran. He has been married to Laurie Hedges for 23 years and they have a 15-year-old son at Bozeman High School.
He worked 30 years for the Bay County Sheriff’s Office during which he worked as the Mosley High School resource deputy.
He also volunteered for 30 years with the Bay Count Fire Service.
He currently works with the school board police department as the safety officer in Cedar Grove.
Why are you running for a school board seat?
“I’ve sat back and I’ve seen a lot of things, and I’ve been told to keep my mouth shut over the things I’ve seen,” Hedges said. “The morale of the school system with the employees, teachers and all that is in the gutter, it’s real bad. And things need to be changed.”
“As far as when somebody comes in from the District’s office, you have to walk on eggshells and stuff like that.”
Hedges added that he wants to take better care of the teachers regarding pay and trust. He said he wants to do away with micromanagement he said he’s seen throughout the system and give teachers the opportunity to do what they have been trained to do: teach.
What are you top three priorities moving forward?
- Privatization is not the answer regarding the food services and healthcare, Hedges said. “When you start bringing for-profit people in, you start running into issues.”
- Salaries. “There’s money being wasted.” Tax payers should get the best bang for their buck.
- We need to take care of the kids. “These kids want to try and live a normal life nd we need to work towards that.” Bring more life skills into the curriculum so they are more equipped to deal with life after high school.
What are your thoughts on Gov. DeSantis’s announcement about increased teacher pay? How do you think the money should be used?
Hedges said he would like to create more job and financial security for teachers.
“We need to work on teacher retention,” Hedges said. The system forces most teachers and staff to work multiple jobs to pay the bills for themselves and families, leaving little room for them to have lives, Hedges said.
Hedges compared it to an NFL team, with assistants to assistants to assistants. Cut back on unnecessary staff who’s salaries take away from the District’s budget and instead pay the teachers more to teach their subjects fully, Hedges said.
“When I was in the military, I took an oath to defend the constitution and that starts out ‘We the People,'” Hedges said. “Not the government. We need to listen to our people.”
What are your recommendations for the upcoming school year regarding COVID-19?
Parents want their kids back in schools and students want a sense of normalcy again, Hedges said.
We set up the classrooms depending on the size of the classrooms.
“You’ve trusted me with your kids’ lives for 13 years at Mosley and I the school system,” Hedges said, “trust me with their future.”