This election isn’t the first time Mary Bagby has put her name into the running for the District 2 seat on the Clarke County Board of Education.
Since long-time board member Vernon Payne left the position in January 2019, Bagby has applied twice for the seat, though the board appointed Frances Berry in March 2019 and Antwon Stephens in January after Berry stepped down.
Three board members voted to appoint Bagby in January. District 3 member Linda Davis said Bagby’s decades of experience in the school district and continued active involvement would make her a good member.
Despite not holding a position on the board, Bagby attends almost every meeting, vocalizing her opinions on ongoing issues during the public comment section of the regular meetings.
Bagby encourages more people to go to both the regular board meetings and the agenda-setting meetings in order to be more informed about decisions in the Clarke County School District.
“I’m qualified,” Bagby said. “I deserve to be on the board of District 2.”
Bagby has lived in Athens for 40 years and put her two children and grandchildren through schools in Clarke County. As an active member of the community, she feels passionate she can help students and parents in her district if elected.
Bagby is facing Kirrena Gallagher in the June 9 election. District 2 is the only contested school board race this year. All other candidates are unopposed.
Because of her experience as a parent, Bagby said she can understand the struggles some parents go through and wants to be an approachable and helpful point of contact for them.
Bagby feels strongly about closing the achievement gap between black and white students and providing equitable opportunity, previously expressing support for former Superintendent Demond Means who had similar priorities.
The achievement gap between black and white students in the district is double the state’s average, according to a CCSD document.
“I decided to run because children need a voice and good education and parents need a voice without intimidation,” Bagby said.
Bagby feels that board members haven’t followed policy and rules set for the board of education, which is the same critique Cognia accreditation agency gave to the board after its review of the district.
Bagby wants to make sure her and other board members are acting in the best interest of all CCSD students if she gets elected.
Bagby said she’s seen some children fall through the cracks because of economic and cultural divides, and she wants to make sure teachers in the district help every student learn and achieve.
She said her campaign is based on “transparency, integrity and truth,” which are the same attributes she wants to bring onto the board if elected.
“My agenda is to do right by the people,” Bagby said.