Candidates for School Board, District 6: Bios & platforms | News, Sports, Jobs

All voters in Lee County will decide who will represent the District 6 seat on the Lee County School Board.

Seat 6 is at-large and non-partisan, meaning all voters countywide may cast a ballot in a three-way race featuring Tia Collin, Jada Langford Fleming and Denise Nystrom.

Lehigh Acres voters also can cast a ballot in one of the three district-specific non-partisan school board races in the Aug. 23 election.

The District 5 race, to be decided by voters who live in the district — mostly Lehigh Acres and part of North Fort Myers — features two candidates, incumbent Gwynetta Gittens and Armor Persons.

The seats for District 1 and 4 are also up for grabs.

Here is an at-a-glance look at the candidates in District 6:

• Tia Collin

Candidate name: Tia Collin

Seat sought/district or at large: Lee County School Board, District 6 (At Large)

Age: 49



Occupation and place of employment: Life Skills Instructor, Community Resource Network

Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency (Lee County if at large):

September 2022 will mark 31 years in Lee County. (Including time spent as a Navy wife, stationed in Virginia, with Cape Coral as our “Home of Record.”

Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking:

Political Experience/offices held: None

Civic/Community involvement: Former staff member at Vineyard Community Church of Cape Coral, Director of 20-Something Ministries. Lee County Public Schools volunteer. Former volunteer cheer coach with Pop Warner.

Family: Children: Joel, Nathan, (Corinne), Jeremiah, (Sammy), and Sarah. Grandchildren: Stella and baby due 12/22/22. Parents: Pete and Sandy Singer. Brother: Pete Singer. Mother in Law: Ruth. Brothers/Sisters in Law: Ron, Bonnie, Chris, Bobby, Renee, and Charlie. Many nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews.

Military Experience:

Why are you running?

I believe in the power and purpose of public education and its power to impact our community’s future.

Planks of your platform:

1. Safe, Equitable Education for All: Responsible community members have a duty to provide a safe environment in which each of our children receive the education they need for a successful future.

2. Community and Family Engagement: Believing that family engagement is the number one indicator of academic success and that education is an investment in our community’s future, schools should be welcoming environments for all of our families and our community.

3. Staff Empowerment and Support: Understanding that supported staff is imperative for quality education, we must provide for all of our staff and empower them to fulfill the mission of public education.

4. Financial Transparency and Accountability: Public education being a community investment, the accounting records should be publicly available.

Top three issues:

1. Safe, Equitable Education for All

2. Community and Family Engagement

3. Staff Empowerment and Support

• Jada Langford-Fleming

Candidate name: Jada Langford-Fleming

Seat sought/district or at large: District 6 (at large)

Age: 45

Website: [email protected]

Education/degrees: Bachelors in Elementary Education from FGCU

Occupation and place of employment: Personal Trainer with 2 the Top; owner of Jada Fleming Fitness LLC

Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency (Lee County if at large):

I have lived in Florida for 45 years both in Hendry County and Lee County. I am a current resident in Lee County and have lived here for 10 years Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking:

I taught Elementary education for 20 years. I was a K-5 PE Coach for the last four years of my career in education. I coached high school volleyball for 12 years. I worked in corporate America for three years. I am a small business owner – Jada Fleming Fitness LLC in which I am a personal trainer to young adults and athletes.

Political Experience/offices held: None

Civic/Community involvement:

Volunteer coach of your sports for many years

Volunteer at sporting events at local leagues

Family: Mother of three children, husband Matt Fleming for (18 years)

Military Experience: None

Why are you running?

As a former school teacher I know first hand the struggles that are happening in the classroom. Our school district is headed in the wrong direction; they are out of touch with parents and taxpayers, in constant conflict with one another, and promoting agendas that do not match the values of our community. I am running to be a voice for parents and taxpayers, to put education back at the forefront of the district’s priorities, and to provide conservative leadership to a board that has lost its way.

Planks of your platform:

1: Cultural issues have made their way into the curriculum and classrooms of our students. My top priority are the students of Lee County and providing them with a quality education rather than indoctrination.

2: Our tax dollars have been misused and the budget has not been managed transparently or responsibly. I will work to rein in out of control spending and create a fiscally responsible budget.

3: Teacher retention is at an all time low. To provide our students with the best education, we must provide the best educators. Pay and work environment must improve if we plan to recruit and retain high quality teachers.

Top three issues:

#1: Improving the educational opportunity for every student. Our schools are producing the future workforce, business leaders, policy makers, and innovators of our country. We need to ensure we are giving our kids every tool possible for their future. Currently, politics and the cultural war movement are interfering with the schools top responsibility — educating our children. I am committed to getting back to the basics of education and preparing our students for success.

#2: Public image of our local school system. When businesses and/or families look to relocate one of the first things they look at is the local school system. Our current district is constantly in the news in a negative light. Whether it be scandals for individual members, infighting between members, the board in conflict with the community — the news revolving this district is always negative. We need a board that better reflects the values of the community it serves and that is willing to work together for the betterment of the 90,000+ students in their care.

#3: Teacher/Staff retention. As someone that spent almost 20 years teaching, I understand the stress and pressures put on teachers. I also understand the financial struggles our educators experience. No one becomes a teacher to get rich, but they do need to be able to sustain their families. Beyond teacher pay, we need to empower teachers to do what they were trained to do — teach. High turnover rates mean experienced teachers are leaving our schools at the detriment to our children. We need to retain these teachers so that we can ensure our kids are getting the best education possible.

• Denise Nystrom

Candidate name: Denise Nystrom

Seat sought/district or at large: Lee County School Board Member, District 6, At-large

Age: 62


Education/degrees: Bachelor of Science in Elementary and Special Education; Masters in Early Childhood Education; Postgraduate in Educational Leadership; Brooklyn College

Occupation and place of employment:

Assistant Superintendent for Personnel, Sewanhaka Central High School District, Floral Park, New York, Retired

Time in the district in which you are running/years of residency (Lee County if at large):

Seven years in SW Florida, five in Collier County and two in Lee County

Business experience applicable to the office you are seeking:

Human Resource Supervisor and Central Office Administrator responsible for managing $170M of the $278M annual budget to effectively run the daily operations of the personnel department, in a high school district with 10,000 students and 1,200 personnel; Lead negotiator for 12 collective bargaining units with knowledge of contract agreements;

Political Experience/offices held: Not applicable

Civic/Community involvement:

Volunteer, Florida Citizens Alliance, a non-profit that focuses on K-12 education

Attend Lee County School Board Meetings regularly

Vice President of the Estero Republic Club

Active in Church and Community Fundraisers


Married to husband Craig Nystrom, mother of three adult children, grandmother of eight grandchildren

Military Experience: Not applicable

Why are you running?

As a lifelong educator who was a 14-year special education teacher, a three-year special education administrator, and an eight-year assistant superintendent of schools, and as someone who spent my career in traditional school settings where the focus was on teaching classic literature, American History, math, and science skills that would ultimately help students transition from grade twelve to college, vocational training, the military, or a high-paying job, I am concerned that school districts have become political in nature.

As an assistant superintendent who ran school districts for a living, I have the skillset to navigate effectively at the highest level.

I have attended the last 14 months of Lee County School Board Meetings and have watched board meetings online going back three years to understand the issues.

Planks of your platform:

The major planks of my platform include increasing student achievement because currently student achievement scores are low, increasing the high school graduation rate with students transitioning from high school to college, vocational schools, the military, or a job with upward mobility because 13% of students, or almost 1,000 students, did not graduate high school, developing a line-item transparent budget that brings accountability to the taxpayers and resources to the students where needed, advancing safety protocols so children are protected in school, and increasing staff retention by establishing a culture of respect and assessing the pay scale so salaries are congruent with the economy in which staff live.

Top three issues:

My top three issues are student achievement as it relates to high school graduation, a transparent budget, and advancing safety protocols.

In Lee County, there are several schools with high achievement scores, but there are many schools with low achievement scores and high incidence rates. We want high achievement scores, low incident rates, high graduation rates, and low dropout rates. In order to make improvements several elements need to be assessed including the effectiveness of programs and services offered on the elementary, middle, and high school level, the ratio of experienced administrators to students/ teachers to students/ and support staff to students, the resources each building has to make sure all buildings have the appropriate classroom space, library media centers, gymnasiums, auditoriums, and fields, and the offering of professional development in every educators particular area that cultivates an expertise that will benefit the students.

The Lee County school district has a 1.9-billion-dollar budget. It is not a line-item budget. Therefore, one cannot tell where there is overspending, under spending, or wasteful spending. First, the students should have the appropriate staff, programs, and resources, and this means having a transparent budget. Per state law all school districts are to have internal auditors to assess the functioning of the school district. In the spring of 2021, RSM, the internal auditing company informed the District that they would not be renewing their contract with the District due to difficulties with School Board Members. The District was without an internal auditor for a year. Fortunately, RSM has returned. The budget needs to be a zero-balanced budget followed by a line-item budget. All aspects of the budget must be examined for efficiency with a focus on providing an instructionally challenging education for all students.

In my role as an assistant superintendent, I was Chair of the District-wide Safety Committee. I believe that adults and children alike must feel safe in the school environment. Safety protocols must be examined on an annual basis. I think that there are many measures that can be taken to enhance safety in our schools. I am a proponent of the Guardian Program, tactical training for school personnel, and technology that enhances safety. The Guardian Program is a program in the State of Florida in which particularly highly trained school personnel can carry a firearm while at work in order to be able to respond to an active shooter incident. All doors leading outside can be alarmed so when opened an alarm sounds. Video surveillance can be used to watch the building egresses at all times. Classroom doors can be secured with security devices that can swiftly be put into place that prevent the opening of classroom doors. Posting security measures outside of the school building to let the public know that it will not be easy to penetrate the building will alone be a discouragement.

Editor’s Note: All information provided by candidates

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