Bob Chilmonik and Jeanne Dozier both know the ins and outs of being on the Lee County School Board, and after being the top two vote getters in the District 2 school board race during the August primary, they have the opportunity to face off again in the general election on Nov 6.
It has been perhaps the most intense race in Lee County, with accusations flying as fast as they did when they served on the board together from 2002-10.
Residence: Fort Myers
Bob Chilmonik served two terms on the Lee County School Board from 2002-10 before running for County Commissioner. Two years later, he sees much that can be fixed.
"We need to improve reading scores. Half of our students leave Lee County with a reading comprehension at a 10th grade level. They'll be hampered in a job search," Chilmonik said. "Graduates from our system aren't ready for work. We need to look at areas that are successful and implement them."
Chilmonik, who was raised and taught in the Lee County school system, also wants to do away with kids taking up to two-hour bus rides and create neighborhood choice.
"I want to start schools within a school to reduce the $54 million transportation burden and end the two-hour bus rides," Chilmonik said. "We can offer programs for gifted students, technology and science."
Chilmonik worked in the private sector for 20 years for Nabisco and Heinz and other private companies, so he believes his broader sense of how a business is run gives him an edge.
"We need oversight and accountability for all money spent. An independent auditor was eliminated because they said we couldn't afford it. We can't afford not to," Chilmonik said. "Money is not allocated to help reading. There's a misdirection of funds and it's not all used in the classroom."
Residence: Fort Myers
Occupation: School Board member
Jeanne Dozier is going for her fourth term on the school board, and she said, unlike her opponent, she has no plans on running for higher office.
"I've been in the same district, the same neighborhood for 20 years. I'm not moving across town and I'm committed to public education," Dozier said. "Chilmonik doesn't show that commitment. He could have taken an advisory position but hasn't."
Dozier said her commitment and record over the past 12 years speaks for itself.
"I've been repeatedly elected to leadership positions, I've been in state-elected positions," Dozier said. "I've worked in the system, moved up, represented our district and advocated for children, gone to Tallahassee and Washington to bring more money to the community."
Dozier listed as among her accomplishments starting a dual-language program at Tice Elementary, standardizing curriculum, starting a scholarship fund with Art of the Olympians, volunteer hours and college nights, among other things.
Dozier added that she has worked with the board and other groups to come up with ways to make the system better.
"I've worked with diverse groups and brought people together. I make sure everybody has a voice at the table and everybody takes part," Dozier said. "The education system is important because good schools attract business and benefit the community. That's why I want to continue on the board."