Nettles, Harrell vie for interim school board seat
Polk County Enterprise, October 2007
LIVINGSTON — Early voting gets under way Monday in a special election held by Livingston Independent School District to fill the unexpired term left by the resignation of trustee Sydney Murphy.
Murphy resigned after 10 years of service to pursue another elected office.
Nettles wants more opportunites for students
Sheriff’s deputy Mike Nettles and contractor George Harrell are seeking to fill the vacant seat.
Nettles said his desire to ensure a quality education for all Livingston children prompted him to seek the office.
“The students – all the students – have to be the number one priority. I want to see a safe school environment and develop more programs for students who aren’t headed for a four-year college,” Nettles said.
High school students need to see other options out there that will lead them to successful careers if they’re not college-bound, he said.
Nettles graduated from Livingston High School in 1981 and the East Texas Police Academy at Kilgore College in January 1983. He worked as a law enforcement officer ever since, mainly at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Through that training and experience Nettles said he has developed the ability to look at all angles of an issue before making a decision.
“It’s crucial to see all sides to make the best decision for the district,” he said.
The seven-member board also has to work together as a team and work through the challenges ahead to build an excellent district, Nettles said.
“It is a team effort with everyone working together with on goal – preparing Livingston ISD students with the best possible education so they can be successful as adults,” he added.
We have to work toward a positive future and not just get by, he added.
Overcrowded classrooms, high turnover rate in staff and discipline issues are all major issues facing LISD and many of those problems require long-term solutions.
Board members have to stop, look and listen on all issues.
Nettles compared the successful operation of the district to a wagon wheel where each spoke must work effectively or it doesn’t operate at all.
“We need to ensure teachers can teach an entire class period without discipline issues. We should support efforts from administrators to implement firm, fair discipline,” he said.
“We need to make sure they secure sufficient supplies for classrooms and pursue funding from grants and outside foundations to supplement programs,” he said.
The board will also have to look ahead to meet demands on permanent facilities.
He cited the use of the 20 portable buildings on the high school campus an example of efforts to overextend temporary solutions to long-standing problems.
To have an excellent school district, teachers have to have support, taxpayers have to see financial accountability and administrators have to have support from the board.
Mike and his wife Timber Lee Nettles have been married for 24 years and have two children. Their son, Michael Craig Nettles, graduated from Livingston High School two years ago. Kevin Nettles is a sophomore at LHS.
Mike is currently a member of the executive board of Polk County 4-H, active in the Athletic Booster Club and involved in coaching basketball and baseball. He is a past president of the Polk County Peace Officers’ Association and remains a member of that organization.
Harrell seeks to help
George Harrell is ready to serve on the Livingston Independent School Board again.
Harrell last served from 1981 to 1995 and left because he felt stalemated by the other members and by the school administration.
“There’s a chance that I can help out now that the school has hired a new superintendent and principal,” said Harrell in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
Harrell says that discipline problems are one of his primary focal points. He is concerned that things have gotten out of hand in the last few years and he can help straighten them out.
With the crowding issue and need for additional science labs at the forefront of most local educator’s minds, when asked Harrell states that he hasn’t educated himself on that issue but he doesn’t want to see the campuses loaded down with portable buildings.
“Because I can make a decision - I know how to say, ‘yes’ AND ‘no’,” is Harrell’s reply when asked why voters should choose him come election day.
“The situation is either black or it’s white and we’ve had troubles in the past with double-standards and not everyone getting the same treatment. I believe I’m strong enough to stand up and say and do what’s right,” said Harrell.
“I want a school we can all be proud of.”
Harrell is lifelong Livingston resident. He has a B.S. degree from Sam Houston State University and a Vocational Industrial Educational Certificate from Texas A & M.
He owns and operates George Harrell Construction.
George’s wife, Phyllis, is a retired teacher with 35 years behind her. Their son, Kyle, lives in San Antonio with his wife, Elissa.