Steve Hein, in his eighth year representing District 4 on the Bulloch County Board of Education, has decided not to seek re-election. But District 4 resident Adrianne McCollar has announced as a candidate for the seat.
The election is May 22. Next week, candidates will pay fees and file qualifying paperwork for four school board seats up for election, as well as for Board of Commissioners seats, state legislative seats, state executive offices and the District 12 U.S. House seat. The other three Bulloch BOE members in seats due for election, District 2’s Mike Sparks, District 5’s Glennera Martin and District 6’s Jay Cook, have said that they will seek re-election, but Hein had a different answer.
“I am thankful to the friends and families of District 4 for allowing me to serve as their BOE representative,” he wrote in an emailed statement this week. “In an effort to remain true to my values, I am not running for re-election.”
Both Hein and McCollar are well known in other capacities.
Hein, a master falconer, is director of Georgia Southern University’s Center for Wildlife Education. He and his wife, Kathy, were high school sweethearts at Statesboro High, and their four children all attended Bulloch County schools. But their two older offspring are now 30 and 28, and the twins, 20, are University of Georgia students.
No longer having children in school was not the reason Hein cited for not seeking a third term. Instead, he suggested that remaining true to his values requires allowing others a chance to serve.
“There is a general consensus that when people are given power and influence that, over time, they can be corrupted by it,” Hein wrote. “While not necessarily in favor of mandatory term limits, it's time for me to step aside and allow someone with fresh ideas and an even greater focus on student achievement to take the reins.”
McCollar announced her candidacy Jan. 21 during the rally after the Statesboro Women’s March. Not knowing that Hein was going to retire from the board, she expected to challenge him for the seat, she said this week.
“Whenever somebody decides to give their free time I think it’s a noble thing to do, and so I commend him for that, but no, I didn’t know at the time that I initially announced and planned to run that he was intending not to run,” McCollar said.
She is Georgia Southern’s facilities superintendent, managing one of the largest departments on the Statesboro campus. Her husband is Statesboro Mayor Jonathan McCollar.
“I am running because K-12 education – quality, free public education, is a truly amazing institution that is worth protecting and perfecting,” Adrianne McCollar emailed in a response to questions. “I want to amplify the voices of our children. Children know what works for them and they know what is not working, and I believe that we should be listening to them.”
She also wants to show support for teachers, she said, naming four Mattie Lively Elementary School teachers as examples.
“My daughter has four teachers this year who have really poured into her life and I am running for them,” McCollar wrote. “Ms. Newkirt, Ms. Lamb, Ms. DiPalma, and Ms. Conner have each given me new inspiration and have shown me this year how transformative the classroom can be when teachers are inspired and creative in the classroom and when they really work to reach their students.”
All five of the McCollars’ children are enrolled in Georgia public schools. Three are in the Bulloch County system.
In her Jan. 21 remarks, McCollar observed that the Bulloch County Schools boast a relatively high graduation rate but exhibit lower college readiness, which she said points to a problem. This week, she said the schools and community must do more to bridge achievement gaps among social and economic groups.
“I would like to see our schools turned into true community learning centers, and I believe that the resources are there to do it,” McCollar emailed.
“Our children need access to computers, internet and tutoring after 3:30 p.m.,” she wrote. “The work that needs to be done to bridge these gaps cannot all be put on teachers to do between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. We need bold and transformative ideas and school board members willing to implement new and creative ways to bridge these gaps.”
McCollar grew up in Norcross but has been a Bulloch County resident for almost 20 years. She came to Georgia Southern as a student and met her husband, a native of Bulloch, as well as attaining both her bachelor’s degree, majoring in political science, and a master’s degree in public administration.
This is her first time running for public office.
McCollar has served on the Bulloch County Parent Advisory Committee and on parent advisory committees for Langston Chapel Elementary School and is a community partner with Transitions Learning Center. She works with the Collegiate 100 Women of Georgia Southern, who have been mentoring children in the Morris Heights community for the past four years. She worked with a GSU student organization, The Real Always Wins, or RAW, which mentored students in a recovery class at Statesboro High.
School board and commissioner candidates can qualify in the elections office at the Bulloch County Annex, 113 N. Main St., starting at 9 a.m. Monday and during office hours daily until noon Friday.
Although the May 22 election will be the primary for county commissioner seats, it will be the general election for the school board seats, which are nonpartisan.