Adkins seeking another term as county schools’ superintendent

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Posted 4/15/18

Jason Adkins has announced his intention to seek re-election to the office of superintendent of education for Walker County Schools.

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Adkins seeking another term as county schools’ superintendent

Posted

 Jason Adkins has announced his intention to seek re-election to the office of superintendent of education for Walker County Schools. 

Adkins said he inherited many issues when he took over the superintendent post. 

“On Jan. 1, 2011, the day I became superintendent, the Walker County Board of Education’s financial situation was deplorable,” Adkins said. “ The money had been so badly mismanaged, that a few months prior, the First Bank of Jasper denied my predecessor’s request for a loan to make the Board’s payroll.  The Board was $1.2 Million in the hole in the General Fund. Facing financial crisis, we were forced to make a some very difficult but necessary decisions.

“Those decisions ultimately turned the system around, and we have turned our transformation into new student opportunities,” Adkins continued.  “The Walker County School System is now in the best shape it has ever been in.  The General Fund balance has improved from a negative $1.2 million in 2011 to a positive $9.2 Million, a literal increase of 1,000 percent.  To put that in proper perspective, if one totaled the year-end, General Fund balances of the Walker County Board of Education from 2007 through 2011, you would find that we have more money now than the sum of all five of those years combined.” 

Adkins said students in the Walker County School System are doing better than ever and have more opportunities to be successful.  

“We have our highest graduation rates ever, improving from 76 percent in 2011 to 90 percent,” he said. “We instituted Dual Enrollment and Advanced Placement programs for high school students. We added an accredited digital curriculum. We placed $2 Million toward improving technology. We appropriated $1.4 million toward placing Pre-K programs in each of our elementary schools, increasing the percentage of four year olds educated in our county from 2 percent to 25 percent. We added the Hope and Twilight Schools to provide options for students with difficulties, and created a machine tool program in partnership with Jasper City and Bevill State. We also established new apprenticeship programs creating multiple pathways for our students to go straight from high school to work with high-paying jobs in their chosen field.”

According to Adkins, the Walker County School System has obtained state-wide recognition as a result of its success.  

“We have been publicly commended by the State Superintendent of Education at multiple conferences. Our system has been showcased on the State Board of Education’s website. Our employees have presented at CLAS Conferences,” he said. “I myself have presented at an AASB conference on the topic of school finance, and will present again this June on ‘Creating Innovative Student Opportunities.’ All of this is a result of the hard work of our employees.  Together, we have truly changed the conversation about the Walker County Board of Education.”  

Adkins addressed a debt issue that has been brought up on the campaign trail. 

“Political consultants have been paid over $10,000 to help muddy the water enough to convince voters we have a debt problem. In reality, it was the borrowing of $12 Million in FY 2012 that enabled the school consolidations which transformed us from a negative $1.2 Million in 2011 to a positive $10.2 Million in 2016,” Adkins said. “We then took advantage of our financial strength, and from the very same bank that refused to loan the Board $2 million to make pay-roll a few years before, borrowed $8 Million to make some much needed improvements. Our yearly debt payment totals only 3.8 percent of our yearly budget. To put that in a simple but accurate way, if a given household’s monthly income was $10,000, and all the debt incurred; mortgage payment, car loan, boat note, all of it … totaled a $380 monthly payment. Your debt service would be 3.8 percent.

“Furthermore, Moody’s, the company that rates the credit of all school boards, recently gave us a great rating,” Adkins continued. “In their March of 2018 report, it was noted that one of our main financial strengths was our low debt burden.  The debt issue is a fallacy.”

Adkins also addressed inequity claims over capital projects which he described as “fictitious.”

“In truth, capital improvements were based on need and done fairly. $12,623,631.22 went to East Walker County, $4,718,120.72 to Oakman, $3,676,360.61 to Curry Schools, $1,921,070.30 to Carbon Hill and $1,807,052.19 to Cordova,” Adkins said. “A major project is starting soon at Lupton, and another at Parrish Elementary. These financial facts and figures are a matter of public record and can be irrefutably proven true. The equity issue is false.”

Adkins questioned some political tactics that have been used against him in the campaign so far. 

“In 2011, I hired a friend as the Director of Curriculum and Instruction. His sole responsibility was to improve student achievement,” Adkins said. “In the year of 2014-2015, ACT scores across the state of Alabama dropped, on average, two points.  Ours dropped, and so did Jasper City’s.  The reason was simple, it was the first time that every 11th grade student had to take the ACT test. Our scores have fluctuated within tenths of a point since then. Knowing there is much more to student success than one test reveals, and that student achievement had holistically improved. 

“I did not attempt to fire or discredit my friend back then. In fact, around that very same time, I offered him a raise for his efforts. He readily accepted it,” Adkins added. “For this person to talk negatively about test scores and use them as a weapon against me now, is incomprehensible. It demeans our teachers and reveals how he has changed.” 

Adkins said he is the best choice and should be re-elected to the superintendent post. 

“There is a difference between leadership and manipulation,” he said. “This regime would present absolutely nothing new. Look at the alliances made, and who is beholden to who. This is nothing more than a concerted effort by the machine, the same people who helped create the mess we have just overcome. They have been working together for three years, attacking with pitiless intensity.  Note the slanderous letters mailed anonymously, the newly formed law firms, and the infamous faces suddenly resurfacing, all of which resulting from choices made by the other side.  

One shouldn’t get in that proverbial car, or open that dark and ominous door” Adkins continued. “Let’s not go backward. The choice is clear. Allow me the opportunity to put the pieces back together and continue what we have started, and I will.”