The District 6 slot is now held by Robert Wofford, who is not planning to make a run for a second term in office, and has instead thrown his support behind Chapman.
Chapman, a Canton businessman, announced his candidacy Thursday.
The 53-year-old was a member of the Cherokee Board of Education for more than a decade, including four years as the board chair, and said he didn’t have the choice to run for re-election when his final term expired in 2012.
“I had 11 years on the board and I was basically redistricted out of the position I was in. I contemplated retiring and thought about staying out of it, but I see what’s going on with the board and I feel I can contribute and help the board,” Chapman said Thursday. “I can contribute to the district continuing to be a great school system.”
Wofford, who will finish his first and only term on the board this December, said his decision not to run for re-election was made easier when he found out Chapman would seek his seat.
“This decision was much easier for me after hearing that former School Board member Mike Chapman is interested in running for this seat,” Wofford told the board chair and superintendent in an email Thursday. “Mr. Chapman and I agree that moving forward the board should focus on reducing class size, teacher morale and reducing debt. I am happy to support his future candidacy.”
Wofford thanked the board for electing him for a second consecutive term as vice chair this year, and said the district was in great hands.
“After my 30-plus years working in the school system as a teacher, principal, transportation director, personnel director and now as a policymaker, I feel that Cherokee is in great hands with its leadership team, teachers, support staff, students and parents as we move toward the future. As a Cherokee native, I have seen the system grow to become the best in the state of Georgia,” he said Thursday.
Chapman was presented with an Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia PTA for his work on the board, and said he’s proud of what he accomplished on the Board of Education.
“We were good fiscal stewards of the taxpayer’s money — the investment that the community made in their school system. I take great pride in the fact that, when I left, we had the best test scores in the state, we had one of the highest bond ratings on Wall Street and we had those things while we were working through a pretty deep recession with a lot of funding cuts,” Chapman said. “We kept taxes down, we never voted for an increase. We have had the lowest overhead rates in metro area and one of the lowest in the state.”
Chapman has lived in Canton with his wife, Mary, for 24 years. Their two sons both attended Cherokee County schools from kindergarten through graduation, Chapman said, and his wife has been a teacher for 27 years.
“We need to continuously improve what we give to our kids,” Chapman said. “I challenged the superintendent with what eventually became the Academies initiative, and I’d like to see that continue to grow.”
Chapman said the school district will face a number of issues as it moves forward, and said he’s ready to help.
“Dr. Petruzielo — who knows when he’ll be retiring — but within the four years that I would be in office chances are very good that he would be leaving. And I certainly feel I can contribute to helping the transition to a new superintendent —that’s critically important,” Chapman said.
Chapman said he has the experience to know what can, and can’t, be done at a local level.
“There are a lot of people that have opinions about Common Core and all kinds of different things out there that the local board doesn’t really have much say over,” he said. “So, you have to look at the lay of the land and see what you can change, and what can be made better within the constraints that are put out there by the Legislature, and the amount of money that’s available.”