McMinnville businessman Bill Zechman has announced his candidacy for re-election as 2nd District member of the Warren County School Board. He is now finishing his first, four-year term on the school system’s six-person governing board.
“It has been a great honor and privilege to serve the citizens and students of the 2nd District and all of Warren County,” Zechman said. “I am grateful for the support which I have received and would deeply appreciate the vote and influence of the citizens in early voting now under way and on Aug. 2.”
An agent with State Farm Insurance for 30 years, Zechman and his wife, Patricia, have made their home on Lind Street for more than three decades. The couple has three daughters – Christie, Leslie and Lauren – and two granddaughters, Bliss and Tullulah (Touie). The School Board candidate is a lifelong member of Central Church of Christ and longtime adult Bible class teacher at the congregation.
Prior to election the School Board in 2008, he served 22 years as a 1st District member of the Warren County Commission. His first elective office was a two-year term on the McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen. He is a graduate of the former McMinnville City High School and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Before joining State Farm, he was employed as a chemist at the University of Tennessee Space Institute.
“If you ask me to identify my personal top priority for Warren County schools, it would be the academic success and progress of our students,” Zechman said. “Education is, of course, job one. But we also have to make sure the infrastructure that supports the teaching and learning process is working effectively and efficiently.
“Education leaders across America have taken notice, mostly belatedly, that our nation has fallen way behind in international competition among K-12 students in modern, industrialized countries. No Child Left Behind was an effort to help reform and improve education nationally, but one lesson we’ve learned from that experience was there is no overall, one-size-fits-all fix for decades of under-performance,” Zechman stated.
“The fact is, each individual community will have to strive to turn around the situation and to give our children the very best learning opportunities. That doesn’t always mean throwing money at the problem, but working smarter and harder to implement the proven best-practices in the classrooms and in the administration,” Zechman concluded.
Other areas of emphasis in Zechman’s first term on the School Board have been combating energy waste and inefficiency to save tax dollars going to pay utility bills. “I would much prefer to cut a couple of hundred thousand dollars off our $1.4 million electric bill and pay that money to our teachers and support personnel. We could also use some of the energy savings to retain teaching positions that are threatened as the federal stimulus funding goes away.”
Zechman has also worked on anti-bullying efforts and has pushed for policies and practices designed to identify and prevent harassment and discrimination within the system. On the academic side, he has called for more rigorous standards in math and science at all grade levels and has supported career-technical education and dual-enrollment opportunities with Motlow State Community College, McMinnville.
In cost-cutting efforts, he supported the transfer of student transportation to contract-operator Durham Services, which runs more than 14,000 buses in school systems in several states. After rationalizing routes, installing GPS technology, and implementing new efficiency practices, Durham saved the county nearly 30,000 gallons of diesel fuel in its first year of operation, equating to a cost reduction of more than $100,000 for the benefit of taxpayers and the students.
Among his priorities if he is re-elected to the board, Zechman said, is working for better pay and insurance benefits for all school employees.
“These are the people to whom we have entrusted the education, safety and well-being our children,” Zechman said. “I think we are morally obliged to do better for them than what we’ve done in the past.”