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Meet the Candidates: District 5 (Updated, Corrected July 31, 2012)

July 15, 2012

CORRECTION:  Mea culpa! When originally posted on July 13, this article contained inaccurate information about $20 million in local funds raised by Kim Wirth and the Memphis City Schools Foundation.  This money was raised to support the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI) only. Both the original $90 million grant from the Gates Foundation and the $20 million in local funds support the TEI only.  This edition corrects the error.

David Pickler and Kim Wirth are running for the District 5 position on  the Shelby County Unified School Board (USB). They were interviewed on Friday Viewpoint with Eddie Settles at 3:00 p.m. on July 27, 2012. Click below to listen:

District 5 Interviews July 27, 2012

District 5, which includes Germantown, Collierville, and parts of Cordova,  is where the merger process gets a little  confusing and the politics more “interesting.”

USB District 5

Because of the complexity of the merger process, it is possible that both candidates will serve on the interim USB for the next year.

Stick with me on this.

David Pickler currently holds the District 5  position on the (pre-merger) Shelby County Schools (SCS) Board of Education. This board, as well as the separate Memphis City Schools (MCS) Board of Education, will dissolve in August 2013, when the consolidation of the two boards officially takes place.  Mr. Pickler and Mrs. Wirth are running for the “Super District 5” commissioner slot on the permanent unified board (USB). The winners in the August 2, 2012  election take their seats immediately, replacing the seven commissioners appointed to the interim USB in October 2011.

Got it so far?  Hang on.

If David Pickler loses to Kim Wirth, they will both be on the interim USB for the next 12 months, with Mr. Pickler retaining his SCS seat through August 2013,  and Mrs. Wirth holding the new USB District 5 seat. If David Pickler defeats Mrs. Wirth, however, he gets  the permanent District 5 seat, and the Shelby County Commission will appoint someone to fill his old SCS District 5 seat until the merger.

Since both candidates are strong advocates for separate school districts in such areas as Germantown, Collierville, Bartlett, Arlington, Millington, and Lakeland, Mrs. Wirth has told potential voters, “If you elect me, you are guaranteed to have two on the board (for the next 12 months) that support municipal districts,” she said.

“I find it interesting that my opponent is saying a vote for Wirth is a vote for Pickler to stay on the board,” Mr. Pickler responded. “I thank her for the endorsement.”

Regardless of who is elected to District 5 on Aug. 2, if the municipal districts are formed, the Shelby County Commission could redraw school district boundaries to exclude the municipalities.

See, I told you it was, uh, interesting!

District 5 Candidate David Pickler

David Pickler, 53,  has been a  commissioner for the Shelby County Board of Education since 1998, and served as its chairman for over ten years.  He is also a member of the Transition Planning Commission (TPC) .

A 1980 Magna Cum Laude graduate of Arkansas State University with a B.S. in business management, Mr. Pickler received his J.D. from the University of Memphis. He is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). As managing partner of The Pickler Law Firm and Pickler Accounting Advisors, he advises clients on tax and estate planning. He was selected by Barron’s as one of the Top 100 Financial Advisors in the nation in 2011.

Mr. Pickler has served as President of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) and also as NSBA’s  Southern Regional Director. He is the only person to have received NSBA’s  Distinguished Service Award three times.  Mr. Pickler was named School Board Member of the Year by the Tennessee School Boards Association.

Mr. Pickler has held significant leadership and fundraising roles for the Memphis Oral School for the Deaf (MOSD), Kiwanis, and the Boy Scouts. As Shelby County School board chairman, Mr. Pickler created the Shelby County Schools Education Foundation, which has awarded over $1 million in financial support.  His fundraising and personal philanthropic efforts have been recognized by local and national organizations.

Mr. Pickler and his wife, Beth, live in Germantown. Their daughters Chris and Katie both graduated from Houston High School.

His candidate profile in the Commercial Appeal’s July 15, 2012 Voters Guide contains this quote:

“The education challenge facing our community requires courageous leadership and innovative thinking coupled with the experience to address the complex issues of the new reality of public education in Shelby County.”

More information about David Pickler can be found by clicking on the following links:

Campaign Website

Campaign on Facebook

Campaign on Twitter

David Pickler on LinkedIn

Shelby County Board of Education Profile

Coalition for a Better Memphis (CBM) Position Statement

CBM Candidate Questionnaire

Memphis Business Journal Feb. 24, 2012

Memphis Flyer May 18, 2012

Commercial Appeal July 24, 2012

Commercial Appeal July 6, 2012

Commercial Appeal July 2, 2012

Commercial Appeal June 24, 2012

Commercial Appeal June 13, 2012

District 5 Candidate Kim Wirth

Kim Wirth, 38, is a native of Middle Tennessee and received a B.A. in public relations and journalism from Auburn University. She is a senior communications executive at International Paper (IP), where she has worked for  16 years. She moved to IP’s global offices in Memphis in 2001.

Mrs. Wirth served as Executive Director for IP’s charitable foundation, managing annual budgets exceeding $10 million. After moving to Memphis, she helped to found the Memphis City Schools Foundation (MCSF) in 2009 and until recently, served as its Chairman. (She resigned this volunteer position to concentrate on her campaign for District 5 USB Commissioner.)  While with  MCSF, she worked with Memphis City Schools to secure $90 million in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for education reform, including the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative (TEI); and led a $20 million matching funds campaign to fund the Boston Consulting Group’s work for the Transition Planning Commission (TPC). The Foundation also funds a number of other programs supporting academic achievement and student well-being, including literacy, health, arts and math education, and parental engagement.

Ms. Wirth has also served on the Board of Directors of Memphis Leadership Academy, and was named to Memphis Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40.” She spearheaded a volunteer effort at Germantown Methodist Church resulting in a partnership with inner city Caldwell-Guthrie Elementary. She has been endorsed by grassroots advocacy group Stand for Children.

She and her husband, Brian live in Germantown with their three children. Morgan, Hannah and William. William attends Dogwood Elementary. Morgan and Hannah attend St. George’s Independent School.

She is quoted in the Commercial Appeal’s July 15, 2012 Voters Guide as saying:

“I am an active parent with kids in school now, a business executive concerned for our community and an active participant in the education reform happening with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other efforts across the county and state.”

Click on the links below for more information about Kim Wirth, her experience and positions:

Campaign Website

Campaign Site on Facebook

CBM Position Statement

Coalition for a Better Memphis (CBM) Questionnaire

Stand for Children Endorsement

Commercial Appeal July 24, 2012

Commercial Appeal June 22, 2012

Commercial Appeal June 20, 2012

Commercial Appeal June 13, 2012

We will post all candidates’  responses to our recent issues questionnaire as soon as they are received.

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