Richard Golden has announced that he intends to run for the District 4 seat on the Tift County Board of Education. This seat is currently being held by board member Rita Griffin, who will not seek re-election.
In a typed statement to The Tifton Gazette, Golden said, “My family and I have put a lot of thought into my decision to run for the school board in light of some of my personal actions in the past. I regret my past mistakes, have paid a legal and moral price for them and have grown from them.”
He added that he has been encouraged by many friends and teachers who say they need some changes in the school system and that he is the one who can help. As an active parent of three children in the Tift County School System, Golden says he’s very familiar with the local schools on many levels.
“With my eight years of experience on the board of education, I know school board policy, budgets, personnel and school property,” he said, noting that he served as chairman for seven of the eight years. “I also have some ideas about school funding, property taxes and SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) funds.”
Golden graduated from Tift County High School in 1984. He went to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. on a cross country scholarship. He returned to Tifton to start a business and has been a local businessman for 25 years.
“I understand how to deal with a downturn in the economy,” he said. “I was able to keep employees at their current earning levels and keep a positive outlook by making significant adjustments to debt due to reduced income.”
When discussing the school system’s current financial issues, Golden said, “You have to work with what you have and be upfront with it. I feel like there is a tax increase looming. I think there are some changes and adjustments that can be made to ease the tax burden.”
He said he’s heard from many in the school system that the constant attention to budget constraints and its ramifications have led to low morale for local teachers.
“I would like the opportunity to improve teacher morale by making the adjustments necessary to end furlough days and return our students to 180 days of classroom instruction,” he said. “I have a passion for school business and the energy to be a constant cheerleader for student achievement and success in our public school system.”
When asked about the controversy over the Common Core Standards in Georgia, Golden said he thinks of Common Core as another federal program that hinders teachers from using their best judgment in the classroom.
“It’s new,” he said. “Over the years, there have been a number of federal programs, like No Child Left Behind, put out there to try to fix education. Is it broken? No.” He said he understands that teachers need to have guidelines, but “a good teacher knows what to do in the classroom.”
He noted that not all federal money is good money to have due there being certain requirements with getting the money.
“I believe in public education,” Golden said. “I know no other.”
To contact reporter Latasha Ford, call 382-4321.