Fulton School board incumbents in North Fulton face scant opposition

Only one of three open seats face challenge



NORTH FULTON, Ga. – Two seats on the Fulton County Board of Education will remain unchanged for the next term as incumbents face no opposition in their North Fulton districts in the May 20 primary election. The new four-year term on the school board begins Jan. 1, 2015.

Qualifying for candidates ended two weeks ago with no challengers to the District 2 seat held by incumbent Katie Reeves (Milton-Alpharetta) or the District 5 seat held by Linda McCain (Johns Creek).

Only incumbent Julia Bernath, whose district covers the widest swath of North Fulton real estate from Sandy Springs to Johns Creek, will face a primary challenge from Kathleen “Kate” Wittschen of Roswell.

Wittschen is a parent of two at Centennial High School and is seeking her first elected office. A native of Massachusetts, she has been involved in the PTA and has been an active volunteer in her children’s school since moving to Atlanta in 2000. She previously worked in the marketing and communications industry.

Wittschen said she is running to provide a “fresh perspective” to the school board after 14 years of representation by the incumbent.

“As a parent with students currently in our public schools, I will identify creative solutions for lingering problems and bring a sense of urgency to resolving them,” said Wittschen.

Bernath has been a member of the school board since 2000, and has served terms as president and vice president of the school board. She is also the past president of the Georgia School Boards Association.

During her tenure on the board, Bernath said she has focused on fiscal responsibility to allow Fulton Schools to weather the storm caused by the economic downturn. She believes the public’s support of four education tax initiatives (SPLOST) indicate their confidence on how education dollars are being spent.

“I want to continue to be fiscally conservative with our funds, so we can continue to offer competitive pay to attract the best and brightest teachers and administrators,” said Bernath.

Reeves has been a member of the Fulton School Board since 1999. She is the second longest-serving member of the board, behind only Linda Bryant of South Fulton who took office in 1993. Reeves’ district covers schools in the high school clusters for Alpharetta, Chattahoochee, Cambridge and Milton.

During her 15-year tenure on the board, Reeves has focused on curriculum issues, as well as new school construction to ease overcrowding. Since 1999, nearly 20 new schools have opened in North Fulton, as student enrollment grew from 65,000 to 95,000 across the system.

McCain is the current vice president of the school board, and is in her first term of office. As she looks to her second term, McCain said the focus will remain on supporting schools as they move toward more flexibility.

“It was very exciting to see some of the requests for flexibility that our schools developed along with their strategic plans,” said McCain. “I truly believe that governance works best when closest to the people it affects.”

McCain’s district includes schools in the high school clusters of Northview, Johns Creek, Alpharetta, Chattahoochee and Centennial.

RN 03-27-14

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