Brandon Martin’s children are practically just getting started in the White County Central School District, and he’s hoping to “get involved” with decisions that the district makes by becoming a member of the School Board.
Martin, 33, is running against White County Central School Board incumbent Larry Stevens in the Nov. 2 school board election. Early voting begins Oct. 26 at the White County Clerk’s Office, 315 N. Spruce St., and runs from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays through Nov. 1.
Election day voting will take place from 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. in the school district’s auditorium.
Martin was born in Waldron, but he said when he was in the fifth grade, his moved into the White County Central School District. “My father’s parents and mother’s parents are both from the area. We moved back home when we moved here.”
Martin graduated from White County Central High School in 2006. He and his wife, Lauren, have a son, Braylen, in the first grade in the district and another son, William, who will be in preschool next year.
“I have grown up doing leadership stuff my whole life and have been heavily involved in FFA [ Future Farmers of America] and 4-H, and that’s just kind of been leadership organizations, and I just know that if I want to make a difference in the community, I better get involved and with my kids coming up in school,” Martin said. “I really want to be involved in school decisions and being a part of that for them.”
Asked if the passage of a 2-mill property tax increase in September made this an exciting time for those in the district like him, Martin said “absolutely.”
The debt service mills passed by 72.77 percent of the voters (171) were being sought so that “a $9,5200,000 refunding and construction bond issue could provide approximately $5,800,000 to be used for constructing, refurbishing, remodeling and equipping school facilities,” according to a pamphlet from the district that promoted the election.
Superintendent Dean Stanley has said the millage would allow the district to do capital improvements such as a more-that-20,000-square foot classroom building, a more-than-8,000 square foot area for cafeteria dining, a water treatment facility to help with sewer problems, new parking at the high school at the north end of the campus and some athletic improvements, including a new soccer field and a new softball field and an upgrade on the baseball field, a track and some concession and restroom areas.
“The school is kind of the center of the community up here,” Martin said. “There’s really no other business or anything around this community. The community is based on the school and I think that it’s something the community can really get behind of and be proud of; to have school facilities like this are going to be second to none, especially with my kids coming up and they will have a brand-new school to go in.”
Concerning the projects that will done with the passage of the millage, Martin said it is not just the buildings. “They actually got several more projects going with the solar panels they are putting up and the waste treatment facility. They’ve got several stuff going that’s really neat to be part of and on the forefront.”
The School Board also will be tackling zoning for its positions based on the district’s increased minority numbers from the 2020 U.S. Census.
“I have talked to a few board members. I really think having the two at-large members would be something I would personally like myself,” Martin said. “There can be two people who would be great candidates that are real close to each other [locationwise]. I know one School Board member lives right across the road from me and does a great job, too, and I’d hate for both of us not to be on the board if we both really want to and there would be no other candidates to not have some at large.”
Other issues the board is dealing with or will have to deal with have included COVID-19 and face masks, which the district made optional this week due to a decline in cases in the area, and Martin said “there’s two sides to that debate, so you’re not going to make everybody happy on it.”
“You are going to have some people upset on it, either way,” he said. “You just got to buckle down to listen to people and if you are on the board, I think you should listen to some concerns from the community and what people say, but also when it comes down it, you have to do what you think is right for the kids.”
When it comes to financial matters for the district, Martin said Stanley is “going to do his research and put out his best thought on the situation and be fiscally responsible and not put the school district in a position they can’t overcome, and I think he has done a pretty good job of that.”
Martin said Stanley was middle school principal when he moved into the district when he was in fifth grade. “His wife, Debbie, was actually my homeroom teacher.”
Martin recognizes that some might consider him young for the position, but “I do have some experience. I am on the Farm Bureau board. I’m a member of the Arkansas Hereford Association; I’m on the board.
“I farm full time. Judsonia is my address. I’m just 2 miles north of the school.”