Meet The Candidates: Superintendent Race
Published 10:30 am Saturday, December 30, 2023
As the new year begins, so too does Chambers County’s school district superintendent election. The county had three candidates qualified for the upcoming race: Sharon Weldon, Winford Ashmore and the incumbent Casey Chambley.
Chambley, a native of Chambers County, has worked in the school district since 2016 when he was hired as an assistant principal for LaFayette High School. Before he won the election for superintendent, Chambley was serving as the vice principal at Valley High School.
Entering the office in 2020, Chambley first had to contend with the new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving students online proved difficult not just in the short-term but in the long-term as well.
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Chambley said the pandemic has caused a teacher shortage as well as a learning gap for students.
During the last year in office, Chambley has also worked with the school board to move forward with the 30-year-old court order to consolidate schools in the county. Though Chambley said there are things he would do differently to move the process along, he is satisfied with the result of the decision on the consolidated high school.
“We would have to do it the same because we had to make a decision. There was really no other way to go,” Chambley said. “The other choices that we had on the table would have been more detrimental to our community and our county and we took the lesser of the two evils and made a decision and moved forward.”
With the final order given in July, Chambley said he looks forward to moving on to more routine, district-level projects in the new year if he is re-elected.
Weldon has been an educator and administrator in the county school system for many years. A Chambers County native, she worked in the central office for 11 years before returning to the classroom to teach math this year.
“A vote for me is a vote for us,” Weldon said.
With her certification with the state’s superintendent academy and her Ph.D. in Educational Administration, Weldon said she feels ready to take on the role to improve the schools and county.
“I see things that are going on in our community. And with our students, especially now that I’m back in the classroom, I just want more,” Weldon said. “I want more for them. I want more for the community.”
Weldon said her platform is focused on the students, the teachers and respect for the county as a whole. With the COVID-19 gap, many students are facing new challenges with the curriculum. Weldon said she plans to meet the needs of the teachers as well as the students.
The school district has faced a lot of challenges with the court hearing on the consolidated high school. Weldon said her top priority is the students of the county. She said it’s the school district’s responsibility to ensure students don’t lose interest in school if they don’t have access to extracurricular activities due to a disparate transportation issue burden.
“I’ve really worked hard not to have an opinion on it because I want to do what’s best for all the children, all the students,” Weldon said. “I do think that if you have it on one extreme of the county, there is a whole lot you’re going to have to do with ongoing added cost.”
However, Weldon said she acknowledges that the decision was voted on by the school board. She said she respects the board and plans to work respectfully with them and the community.
This will be Ashmore’s third time running for the superintendent role in Chambers County. He also ran against Dr. Kelli Hodge and Dr. Casey Chambley in 2016. Later, he challenged Casey Chambley again in 2020.
Ashmore, from Opelika, worked at LaFayette High School in 2016. While there, he said it was a low-performing district and he believed that the district needed new leadership.
“I realized that, you know, that I gotta be the change. If this thing is going to change, I got to be that change,” Ashmore said.
Ashmore left the school district in 2016. He said his goal if he wins the election is to focus on the school district to inspect the quality of teaching, instill effective leadership and incorporate community input.
“No one in education is an island now,” Ashmore said.
Ashmore said he hopes to be an advocate for the students of the whole district when it comes to the consolidation. He said he would have taken more input from the community on its needs for the consolidated high school.