Film Producer challenges APS Board incumbent

After a long-time film career, Taryn Bowman is challenging three-year incumbent Nancy Meister for the North Atlanta District 4 post on the Atlanta Board of Education.

Bowman, the mother of three Atlanta school children, said 25 years in the film industry, including the creation of her own film production company, has given her the budget management skills the school board needs now. She also has worked as a first grade teacher, chairwoman of a PTA magazine and a volunteer at Shepherd Spinal Center. Bowman’s three children attend W. T. Jackson Elementary.

Meister said her ground-level experience as former PTA president for two schools and former co-president of the North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools, as well as her past experience on the school board, contribute to her understanding of the school system. Meister, the mother of two former APS students, also has worked as a member of the Northern Corridor Task Force — a program to improve schools’ recruitment and retention of students.

“The most important thing that I want people to know is that my history, experience and institutional knowledge on the board … gives me a greater understanding than my opponent of the task at hand and the ability to accomplish this mission,” she said.

But Bowman said this is a pivotal opportunity to revamp the entire board, giving it new perspectives and regaining the public’s trust. She has met with many of the challengers in other races and believes they would collaborate well together.

“I feel the momentum,” she said. “The current board has a lot of problems. They almost lost accreditation. That’s a problem, and that cannot continue.”

Even as an incumbent, Meister said, she retains a fresh perspective. When The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on wide-spread cheating by APS educators, she says that she stood up rather than sweep the scandal under the rug.

“[The cheating scandal] was a difficult time and we had to pull the band-aid off. … And I would hope that my commitment and my conviction during that time in making those decisions would prove to voters … that I am not afraid of the hard work,” she said. In 2011, during the cheating investigation, Meister was one of the board members that requested an outside review of Superintendent Beverly Hall’s employment contract.

Both candidates also want smaller class sizes and local budgets for schools.

“It’s very important to let the principal who is there on a day-to-day basis use their money accordingly,” Meister said. Meister is also a proponent of teacher raises and no furlough days.

Bowman wants to control expenditures by limiting central office control and removing the unnecessary jobs.

“We need to get control of [how our money is being spent],” she said. “We need to redirect the money to the classroom, which, in turn, empowers principals to hire the teachers of their choosing.”

Both candidates have had tax woes in the past. Bowman had three tax liens in 2011 that have all been satisfied. One was a sanitation tax lien, while the other two were property tax liens. One of the property tax liens was for about $2,000. She said that she was appealing her tax amount at the time and the commissioner filed this lien without her knowledge. Meister had a state income tax lien for about $5,000 in 2007 that was satisfied in 2009.

The winner of this race will help choose the new superintendent. Both Bowman and Meister said they want a communicative and compassionate leader.

“We want to see someone in that position who has the best interest of our city at heart,” Bowman said, “[Someone] who knows Atlanta, who knows who we are as a city, has a common vision and wants our children to succeed.”

Meister is optimistic for the board’s future.

“This board has definitely had its challenges over the past four years,” Meister said. “We are at a point now that is probably the strongest point we have been at.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Education

UGA works to resolve career fair schedule conflict on Jewish holy day
UGA works to resolve career fair schedule conflict on Jewish holy day

University of Georgia officials, facing complaints about holding the fall career fair on the most solemn day on the Jewish calendar, are working to serve students who won’t be able to attend the event. Some students and organizations recently raised concerns about the timing of the career fair on Yom Kippur, which is Wednesday.  “What...
Study: It’s not private school that makes difference. It’s the family.
Study: It’s not private school that makes difference. It’s the family.

In advocating tax dollars for private schools, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos criticized public schools in America as a dead end. A new major study suggests the private-school edge is an illusion and family factors, rather than school factors, determine student outcomes. “What the study indicates really clearly is that if kids go to...
Metro Atlanta schools address ‘digital divide’
Metro Atlanta schools address ‘digital divide’

When rain, wind, and then snow forced metro Atlanta school districts to close repeatedly last year, several systems told students to log into computers at home and keep up with classes digitally. Atlanta Public Schools balked at the tech-driven approach to make up lost days. Leaders questioned whether it would be fair, since not all students have...
GOP House member: Our teachers feel ‘harassed and disrespected’
GOP House member: Our teachers feel ‘harassed and disrespected’

A former school board member and father of a teacher, state Rep. Dave Belton, R-Buckhead, has written several pieces for the AJC Get Schooled blog. Today, he addresses the reasons behind the dwindling teacher pipeline in Georgia and his concerns over falling morale in the profession. In this guest column, Belton says, “Morale is so poor that...
On anniversary of student’s death, what has changed at Georgia Tech?
On anniversary of student’s death, what has changed at Georgia Tech?

Today marks the year anniversary of the shooting death of Georgia Tech student Scout Schultz by a campus police officer.  The 21-year-old student died after calling 911 to report "a suspicious person on campus" .... a white male, with long blonde hair, white T-shirt and blue jeans who is possibly intoxicated, holding a knife and possibly...
More Stories