HOLMES COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Terry Mears (R) is the incumbent superintendent for Holmes County schools and is running for re-election against Buddy Brown (R).
Who is Terry Mears?
Mears is a 1973 graduate of Holmes County High School. He is a combat Army veteran.
He has been honored with military and civilian awards including the Combat Infantryman’s Badge, the Presidential Valorous Unit Award for Heroism, the Bronze Star medal, and the Liberation of Kuwait Medal. He is an inductee of the Royal Order of Saint Maurice and has been awarded the Association of the U.S. Army General Paul D. Adams Award for service. He is also the recipient of the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal.
Mear has experience teaching in the public sector at both the elementary and high school levels and served as an assistant professor at the University of South Florida.
Mears said his core values are:
- Be true to yourself.
- Honor your faith, flag, family and your community.
- Never lose your moral compass.
He is an active member of Bethlehem United Methodist Church, and a member of several community organizations including the Chamber of Commerce, Bonifay Kiwanis Club, Holmes County Republican Executive Committee.
He also serves as the State Committeeman from Holmes County to the Republican Party of Florida for the upcoming term.
Mears’s past community service positions are past president of Mainstreet (Zephyrhills), President-Elect of Daybreak Rotary, Vice-President of the Suncoast (Tampa) Chapter of AUSA and the President of the Big-Bend (Tallahassee) and Emerald Coast (Ft. Walton Beach) Chapters of AUSA.
What are you top three priorities for next year?
- The safety of the students, staff and community.
- Continue to provide a quality education to students in Holmes County. This includes FSA scores and graduation rates, Mears said.
- Collaborate with community and other agencies within Holmes County to provide a more productive learning environment.
Would you like to respond to some of the thing your opponent said in his interview?
- Regarding dropout rate:
Since Mears took office, he said the dropout rate in Holmes County has plummeted from 19% to 6%.
- Regarding his claim that you fired him due to politically motivated reasons:
Mears said he fired his opponent based solely on performance, including incidents involving a “chlorination station” and “key security.”
- Regarding his claim that you were unqualified:
Mears said he has the Florida Superintendent certification and decided not to pursue any other certifications because he said the only benefit would be an increase in salary, which the school district would have to pay.
What are you thoughts on career and technical training?
Mears said it is a concern to him that people have to leave Holmes County to find a career.
He has signed up an agreement with Walton County for students to attend the Walton County technical school and negotiated a deal with the Development Commission to sell the old middle school and provide a lineman course out of Georgia.
“He’s been here for 21 years and none of these things have happened up until this point in time,” Mears said about his opponent. “Sometimes you have to put legs on goals and not just talk about them, but actually execute them.”
Is morale among staff something you think needs to be addressed and if so, how would you plan to raise it?
Mears said he sees an all time high morale among staff within Holmes County, barring the COVID-19 pandemic difficulties.
“No matter what you do, you’re not going to please everyone,” Mears said.
Mears said that in the past he’s given raises based on the individual’s salary at the time.
What would you like to see come out of Gov. DeSantis’ announcement on raising teacher pay?
Mears said that $47,500 per year is the state average and not what every teacher will be making since may district’s teachers make $80,000 per year.
Mears said his accomplishments speak for themselves and that he agrees with his opponent that there is no “I” involved in the superintendent role; it is about teamwork.