By Bill Short
School Board members Barbara Halliburton and Chris Denson are both unopposed for new terms in the Nov. 3 Millington city elections.
Halliburton earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in marketing at Indiana University.
Currently employed as a senior analyst at FedEx Corp., she is a member of Independents Fellowship International and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Halliburton and her husband Benjamin have a son and a daughter.
In February 2018, the Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen appointed Halliburton to fill the vacancy created in school board Position 5 after Ronnie Mackin resigned to open an insurance agency in Sevierville.
She was elected in November 2018 to serve during the remainder of Mackin’s unexpired term, which ends on Dec. 1.
A graduate of Overton High School, Denson completed studies at Baptist College of Health Science and earned a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree at Columbus University in Louisiana.
A registered X-ray technician, he is employed as director of Professional Services for Fujifilm Medical Systems USA.
He is a member of the American Society of Radiologic Technology, American Registry of Radiologic Technologists and The Association for Medical Imaging Management.
Denson served for three years as vice president of the Basketball Boosters Club for Millington Central High School and four years as president of the Football Boosters Club.
He is currently a member of the Football and Wrestling Boosters Clubs and the Video/Broadcast team for MCHS Football.
Denson is also a member of the First Baptist Church in Millington, where he teaches Sunday School as a Life Group Leader.
He and his wife Diane have seven children and five grandchildren.
In November 2016, Denson was the unopposed candidate for the open school board Position 7 seat then occupied by Donald Holsinger, who ran unsuccessfully for alderman.
He served as vice chairman of the school board in 2019 and is a member of its Policy Committee.
Halliburton and Denson recently responded to the following questions prepared and distributed by The Millington Star:
- What additional policies do you think the newly elected school board should adopt after it is sworn in?
Although Halliburton does not see a need for additional policies at this time, she acknowledged that the Policy Committee will make “adjustments as warranted.”
She noted that, as a committee member, she participates in the “meticulous process” that the board follows in regularly evaluating its policies.
Halliburton said the process enables the board to “adjust” to meet the “ever-changing” needs of students, teachers, administration and school staff. She noted that it has even been used as an example during training sessions of the Tennessee School Board Association.
Denson cited some additional policy opportunities related to Remote Learning and Organizational Alignment within the leadership and Central Office structures.
He said the current board has made “good strides” in collaborating with the TSBA to maintain all policies in accordance with the Tennessee Code Annotated and “ever-changing” legislation for public schools.
- List three significant issues in this election.
(a) providing additional resources and training to administrators, teachers and staff to support students’ educational needs during the COVID-19 pandemic;
(b) preparing to decommission the building that houses E. A. Harrold Elementary School at the end of the current school year; and
(c) setting the right priorities and exercising financial stewardship to support them.
Denson cited the requirements for dealing with the pandemic, student safety and expanding Career Technical Education offerings.
He said “equally as important” is improving compensation packages for teachers who achieve higher education levels and those who coach teams for schools.
- Specifically, how do you plan to deal with each of these issues after you are re-elected?
Halliburton said she will listen to the needs expressed by individuals impacted by the changing environment; support the superintendent in finalizing a long-range strategic plan; and vote to approve a budget each year that reflects the plan.
Denson said he will stay informed of the regulations and requirements issued by the Shelby County and Tennessee Health Departments and the Centers for Disease Control.
He noted that he will continue to provide input and support for implementing safety protocols in areas that potentially impact the overall health of students, staff and community visitors in the school system.
He will also assist the superintendent in working to offer additional CTE paths, such as automotive and HVAC courses, as well as Master’s and Doctorate pay incentives for teachers and compensation stipends for those who also coach teams.
- What do you think is the biggest concern facing the school system at this time?
Halliburton cited the need to improve academic achievement, increase enrollment and enhance facilities.
“Due to COVID-19,” she said, “we have been unable to gauge progress in the academic achievement area. But my hope is that we will have that opportunity within the next two years.”
Halliburton believes increased enrollment will be a function of internal factors, such as academic improvement, as well as external factors, such as city growth and development.
She is also “pleased” with the facilities improvements that continue to be made.
Denson said the “primary issue” is addressing the system’s ability to educate students most effectively and safely during the pandemic.
- What do you think should be the school system’s next priority in implementing its Five-Year Capital Improvements Plan?
Halliburton said the “greatest need” is continued effective maintenance of HVAC systems and expansion of facilities to support the CTE curriculum.
Citing the scheduled E. A. Harrold closure, Denson said the board and superintendent must work “tightly” with school principals and the system leadership to evaluate, develop and implement a “solid” transition plan.