Meet the Candidates: District 1 School Board Member

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The superintendent of the Chambers County School District is not the only position that is up for reelection this year. The District 1 board member seat will also be on the ballot. Board President Jeffery Finch will be facing off against his Democratic opponent Frederick “Reco” Newton in the primary election in March. 

Both candidates will be running on the Democratic ballot on March 5. 

“My platform for reelection to the school board focuses on continuing to prioritize student success, fostering inclusive and equitable learning environments, supporting teachers and staff, promoting transparency and accountability, and advocating for resources to enhance educational opportunities for all students,” Finch said in an email to the VTN. 

Email newsletter signup

The VTN requested to do an in-person interview with Finch, who stated that he could only correspond through email due to scheduling and health complications. 

Finch, a Chambers County resident, has served on the board since 2006. He has a 40-year career with Michelin Tire Company and a 12-year career as Senior Manager or Chief Operating Officer at Doowon USA. 

“I decided to serve as a school board member because I’m passionate about education and wanted to contribute to improving the educational experience for students in our community,” Finch said. 

Newton, born and raised in Valley, has been an educator for the past 22 years. He started his career at Valley High School. Later, he worked for Lanett City Schools, and now he serves as the head football coach and athletic director at Lotchapoaka High School. 

Newton decided to run for the District 1 board seat because he felt the people of his district were not being heard and represented the way they wanted to be. 

“I feel that as a candidate, you should always listen to the people that put you in office,” Newton said. 

Finch’s goal for the future of the school is to foster an inclusive and supportive learning environment for students. He also plans to focus on recruitment and retention of teachers and staff and to build stronger relationships with community partners. 

“Overall, my goal is to see the new high school become a hub of excellence and opportunity for our students, preparing them for successful futures beyond graduation,” Finch said. 

Newton said he hopes to focus on the college and career readiness of the students. He also said it’s important to highlight the career tech opportunities of students. 

“We have very bright students here in the Chambers County area, so we need to make sure we prepare them for their college career,” We have very bright students also [who are] career tech people.”



Finch said he has supported the consolidation of the high school throughout the process. By consolidating the schools, he hopes to streamline resources, improve efficiency and create better educational opportunities for students. 

“Additionally, consolidation can foster a stronger sense of community and collaboration among students, parents, teachers and staff,” Finch said. “While any major change comes with its challenges, I believe that this discussion was in the best interest for the community.”

Newton agreed that the consolidation is at a stage where there is forward momentum. He said at this point, the school district needs people who can help unify the county and make sure the school is an equitable learning environment.

“In order to move forward with this, you need people with a vision that can bring people together,” Newton said. “… I think that this new school has to make sure it serves the purposes of students and make sure it serves the purpose of athletes, also.” 

On Feb. 13, the school board held a community presentation to unveil the school mascot, colors and schematic designs. Finch said he has been pleased with the positive reactions from the community on the school mascot, colors and schematic design. 

“The fact that they also like the school colors is a testament to the thoughtful planning and consideration that went into the design process,” Finch said. “I believe that this strong community support will continue to propel the new high school forward and contribute to its success in providing a quality education for all our students.”

After the meeting, Newton said he still had lingering concerns about the sports facilities and career tech facilities for the new school which was not addressed in the presentation. 

The superintendent has stated that the new high school will use the Rams Stadium for football. Schematic designs set up for viewing after the presentation showed that the school will have a separate facility dedicated to the school system’s career tech, Inspire Academy.