Meet Bay County superintendent candidate: Judy Hobbs-Vandergrift

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BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Judy Vandergrift (R) is running for Bay County superintendent against incumbent Bill Husfelt (R).

Who is Judy Vandergrift?

Vandergrift has been working in Bay County for 43 years. She started out as an elementary school teacher, then a middle and high school science teacher, then an assistant principal. She was also a principal at both the elementary and middle school level.

Her husband worked for 34 years at Jinks Middle School.

She said her position as deputy superintendent best prepares her to take on the role of superintendent because she worked closely with the finance, safety and security, and instruction departments for six years.

What do you want to see change?

  1. Safety and security. Doesn’t necessarily need to be changed, but mentioned as a top priority.
  2. Academic achievement. Our standing in the state has slipped from 19 or 20 when Vandegrift was deputy assistant superintendent to the 30s.

How do you plan to balance the safety of students and staff between COVID-related threats and violence-related threats?

The exterior of schools seems pretty safe right now, she said. The biggest threat is from germs we can’t see and we must take direction from the CDC, she added.

Do you think charter schools affect school grades? How do you plan to bring up grades in general public schools?

Vandegrift opened a charter school. They are an option for parents to utilize school choice, she said.

Charter schools are used as an excuse as to why grades are dropping, she said. There are plenty of highly intelligent students still enrolled in public schools, she added.

Charter schools may have an advantage in parent involvement, she said.

We need to implement consequences for missing school, being disrespectful, etc., she said

We need to involved teachers in developing the curriculum, she said.

How would you raise morale among staff?

High pay for teachers to make them feel appreciated and supported, she said. She added that the pay is not keeping up with the cost of living.

Beginning teachers need a mentor on staff in their area that they can ask for help, she said.

What would you do to protect the heritage of the historically black schools closing and what they mean to the black community?

“I want to be a superintendent to everyone,” Vandergrift said.

We will have to work on that, she added.

How would you rebuild Everitt and Springfield combined school to achieve the highest possible standards?

“If I had a magic wand, I would make it a Pre-K-8 school,” Vandergrift said.

We need a school on the east side that the community is proud to go to that could be a feeder into Rutherford High School, she said.

How do you plan to address the lingering affects of Hurricane Michael and COVID-19?

“For homes that might now have wifi, we could possibly work with telecommunication companies to fix that,” she said. “We need to make sure that our $385 million budget is used for the classroom, students and teachers.”

How would you like the half cent sales tax used in the future?

More for infrastructure of schools and less on technology, she said

Meet the other candidates running for office this year.

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