Maurice Hill, funeral home owner, pastor and father of three Bulloch County Schools students, wants to continue to represent District 8 on the Board of Education.
Now in his 16th year on the board, Hill is its longest-serving current member. He chaired the board in 2012 and 2014 and has served other years as vice chair and co-vice-chair. He identifies equitable access to learning during the COVID-19 recovery, diversity in hiring and attention to student mental health as priorities for 2021.
Hill faces a challenger, Keisha Howard, with District 8 voters choosing between them in the election concluding Tuesday.
“I believe there’s a lot more work to be done through the Board of Education, and I just want to be the voice of the people, for the children in District 8 … and I believe they should vote for me because of a proven track record, a proven history,” Hill said in a phone interview.
Who he is
A native of Bulloch County, Hill graduated from Statesboro High School in 1997 and from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Decatur in 1999. He has been in the funeral service profession for 28 years and has owned and operated Hill’s Mortuary for more than 16 years. It was built new and opened in March 2004.
An ordained and licensed minister, Hill is also pastor of Johnson Grove Missionary Baptist Church.
His wife, Lakesha Hill, works as a network services specialist at Georgia Southern University. In the new school year their three children will be a senior and a freshman at Statesboro High and a seventh-grader at Langston Chapel Middle School.
In addition to being a school board member, Hill serves on the boards of the Bulloch County Alcohol and Drug Council and the Statesboro Family YMCA. In previous years he was a Bulloch County community liaison for the Head Start preschool program and served on former Gov. Nathan Deal’s statewide Education Advisory Board.
Hill has sponsored Statesboro-Bulloch County Parks and Recreation Department soccer teams. He contributes to efforts of the Bulloch County Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. During last year’s VOAD-launched campaign to help Bahamian students who remained here after Hurricane Dorian and their families, both his funeral home and his church sponsored a student.
Statesboro Herald: Why are you seeking to keep this school board seat and why should voters in District 8 choose you?
Hill: “Number one, I want to stay on the Board of Education because I believe there’s a lot more work to be done … and I just want to be the voice of the people, for the children in District 8, and it’s important to me to be accountable and transparent at all times, and I believe they should vote for me because of a proven track record, a proven history. …
“We have had during my tenure a lot of school improvements, construction of schools, due to the many SPLOST referendums that have been passed during my time on the board to ensure safety guidelines and structural improvements, as well as the sports complexes that we’re currently working on and technology with our Chromebooks.”
The planned athletic complexes for middle schools would be funded, like the earlier projects, by the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
One thing Hill advocated in previous years, he added, was for breakfast to be provided free for all students at all Bulloch County Schools campuses. That is now the case, with no paperwork required of parents.
At most of the schools, free or reduced-price lunch still requires a family application to determine eligibility. Two of the schools qualified for all-free lunches last year, but this was a U.S. Department of Agriculture decision.
Since the schools closed in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, the school system has used USDA funding and its own school buses and personnel to provide free bagged lunches and breakfast to children at many distribution sites. Hill advocated for this.
“That was one of my concerns I did raise when COVID-19 came out, how are we going to feed our students,” he said.
Statesboro Herald: What do you think the school system's priorities should be going into 2021?
Hill: “Of course, our first priority is going to be the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s going to be the big issue, with social distancing and how we’re going to ensure that every child has equitable access to education.
“The next point I would really home in on would be to broaden the diversity and inclusiveness of our hiring and our staff. To help ensure every child has equitable access to learning, I would like to see more equal involvement of stakeholders, equal across-the-board.”
Improving mental health services for students “is a big issue now, going into the 2021 year,” he added.
Statesboro Herald: How will you, as a board member, support the work of the superintendent, staff and teachers and hold them accountable?
Hill: “Well, I will hold them accountable by asking them to be transparent, and you know as long as it’s in the best interests of the students and the staff, I would support the superintendent and the staff as long as they have rational reasons behind the decisions. I want to be there making sure due diligence is done, and what’s in the best interest of the children first, and parents and the school system.”