Kirkland challenging Blair for school board

Published 10:00 am Saturday, March 16, 2024

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The LaGrange Daily News is doing a series to help voters get to know the candidates for the upcoming local elections on May 21. Today, we are writing about the Troup County Board of Education District 2 seat.

Two candidates will vie for the District 2 seat currently held by incumbent Ferrell Blair, who is being challenged by Joseph Kirkland.

Aside from serving on the school board, Blair’s family has a cattle ranch where they raise about 140 cows. They also invest in real estate, he said.

Kirkland currently works as an associate director and supply chain manager at Duracell in LaGrange.


Blair said he has always been involved in schools, especially when his kids were in school, but he said it was the late former school board chairman Kirk Handock who suggested that he run for school board several years ago.

“Kirk and I have been friends for a long time, and we spent a lot of time discussing politics. Mostly local government because we didn’t feel like we would have much impact on a larger scale,” Blair said. “When he decided to retire, he told me that he knew I had an interest in wanting to see things improve, so he kind of helped talk me into it, but it’s something I had been involved in and since then I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Kirkland said he was inspired to run for school board because of his kids.

“I have a son who goes to Callaway Elementary. My middle daughter goes to Troup High. I just want to be involved and engaged with their daily activities and make sure I’m part of that decision-making [process] and make sure that I make decisions that directly affect kids in the community,” Kirkland said.


Blair said the school system is improving, but it isn’t where they want to be yet.

“I think we’re doing better than we have been. We’ve put a lot of things in place that we’re waiting to come to fruition, we still have some things that we are in the process of getting in place,” Blair said, noting the reason he is running again is that he wants to see those things through.

“We’ve seen some improvement, but not as much as we hoped to have. But that’s why I’m running again because there’s a lot of things we’ve started that I want to see through to fruition,” he said.

Kirkland didn’t say the school system is doing poorly but noted there is plenty of room to do better.

“I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. I think we have some areas that we need to work on as far as [test] scores for elementary school and middle school and safety,” Kirkland said.

“I know with my daughter going to Troup High, I hear of different instances where guns were brought on campus and different things like that. I think that we need to focus on schools, the scores and the kids’ safety,” he said.


Blair said the board plans to have a lot of community involvement with the selection of the new school superintendent.

“Our process is a bit unique. We do involve a lot of stakeholders such as parents, community members, different organizations, teachers, administrators and students, who will all have input,” Blair said. “We make the final decision and it’s ultimately our final decision, but we do appreciate the input from all those groups.”

Blair said that never really stops. A lot of people tell us what they like and don’t like about the superintendent now, he said.

“We’re looking for somebody that’s going to be not just the head of the school system, but somebody who is going to be a vital part of the community as a whole. Because the school system reaches every household in Troup County, in one way or another,” Blair said. “We will have a person that recognizes that and doesn’t wall themselves off inside the school system.”

Kirkland said he is looking for someone with a proven record of making a difference.

“I’m looking for somebody with a clear vision, somebody that’s goal-oriented, somebody with a proven background with a history of demonstrating work where they came in and made differences, made changes. I’m looking for someone that can build a winning team that can attack the scores, the safety and different issues within the community,” Kirkland said.