Jeff DePaola for Fannin County School Board ~ Opportunity Through Community

Election 2018, Politics


  • Graduate of Kennesaw State University  
  • 20 year career as a Computer programmer for Delta Air Lines
  • Active member of the Benton MacKaye Trail Association
  • Active member of Feed Fannin
  • Past board member of the Boys & Girls Club
  • Multi-year mentor to as-risk youth from Capitol Homes-Atlanta
  • Currently an active broker with Mountain Place Realty in Blue Ridge 
  • Watch the interview below:

    Jeff DePaola asks for your vote in the upcoming election for Fannin County School Board.  Mr. DePaola shares his platform and his vision for the future of the Fannin County School System:

Q:  What do you see as the board’s top priority ?

A:   Maintaining and attracting quality educators to our system.


Q:  What is your vision for education in this community?

A:  Continue to increase the graduation rate from Fannin County High School and ultimately achieve our mission of 100%, which I believe is possible.        I would work closely with the school system administration and the superintendent to identify creative opportunities to achieve this goal.


Q:  How can you contribute to a successful achievement of this vision?

A:  Achieve 100% graduation rate though more comprehensive mentoring and tutoring programs that reach more of our students starting early in              their education experience and continuing through high school. Also, identify vocational programs that could be  offered in Fannin County schools        that target meaningful career paths for our student population who may not want to attend college after graduation.


Q:  What kind of relationship should a district/the board have with its community? With its parents and families?

A:  My campaign slogan is Opportunity Through Community so I intend to be a bridge between the school system needs and our growing Fannin                County community. I believe we have an outstanding base of quality full and part-time residents that would be willing to participate in expanded           education related mentoring and tutoring programs.

       Also, with our business and higher education community expanding rapidly, there will be more opportunities for partnerships that will benefit       our student population. 

Jeff was born in Phoenix, AZ and graduated high school from Schaumburg, IL.  He started with Delta Air Lines in Chicago shortly after high school in 1978 and transferred to Atlanta in 1982 to be trained as a mainframe computer programmer.

He put himself through school and graduated from Kennesaw State University with a business degree in 1988 after part time evening/weekend/summer classes while working full time at Delta.  If you would like to contact Jeff DePaola with any questions he can be contacted at 404.550.4488 or email him at Email Jeff DePaola for Fannin School Board (click here)



Purchase of service truck approved for Fannin County Transportation Department


The Fannin County Board of Education held a special called meeting on March 24th 2017.

First on the agenda was a request to purchase a service vehicle for the Fannin Transportation Department.  The request was made by Fannin County School System Transportation Director Benny Long,  Long recommended a 2002 International Century 614 wrecker body.  The vehicle will be purchased using surplus/scrap funds from within the transportation department at a cost of $37,500.

View the truck here

The truck should serve all the needs of the transportation department such as towing and service calls. Long addressed the Board and explained one of the goals from the surplus sale was to purchase a service truck.  There had been multiple discussions in regards to what kind of vehicle would serve the needs.  He knew he wanted tool storage, an air compressor, some way to lift if they needed to replace a flat tire, or to tow out of a sticky situation or tow in for repairs.  The Board approved the purchase of the truck so they will buy from Revelation Towing located in North Carolina.

See full meeting video here

Fannin County Board of Education Workshop December 6th 2016


Work Session 12/6/2016 – 8:00 AM

2290 East First Street Blue Ridge, Georgia 30513

Phone:706-632-3771 Fax:706-632-7583


Superintendent   Mark Henson
Board Chair
 Bobby Bearden
Board Vice Chair
 Terry Bramlett
Board Member   Lewis DeWeese
Board Member   Sandra Mercier
Board Member   Steve Stanley
Meeting Agenda
  • 1. School Happenings
  • 2. School Governance Team Update
  • 3. Annual Board Self Assessment
  • 4. Review Agenda


FCSS Superintendent Henson “Totally Opposes” Amendment 1 on Nov. Ballot


Amendment 1 asks voters to make a change in Georgia’s Constitution so the Executive Branch of Georgia’s government, at this time Gov. Deal, can take over school districts that the Governor defines as “chronically failing public schools.

In an interview with FetchYourNews  on Oct. 13th, FCSS Superintendent Mark Henson said he “totally opposes” Amendment 1 on the Nov. ballot.  School Board Chair Bobby Bearden also said he will vote no on Amendment 1 as well .  Bearden spoke for himself not the Board.  Both Henson and Bearden oppose the amendment because it takes away parents’, communities’ and School Boards’ control over their local district and place the control in the hands of an “Opportunity School District” .  Georgia’s Governor will have the authority to determine which organization (s), for-profit or non-profit, manage an “Opportunity School District” school.

Henson gave further reasons for his opposition.  The amendment also lets the Opportunity School District have authority over school money but is vague as to how.  Also, there is no set threshold which determines when a district must become and Opportunity School District.  The Governor’s Office said that it this time that schools scoring below 60 on the College and Career-Ready Performance Index (CCRPI) three years running will become an Opportunity School District.  However, the Governor will be able to change the threshold without prior approval from anyone.

Both of these concerns are among reasons why north Georgia School Boards have passed resolutions of opposition against Amendment 1.

Funding concerns for Opportunity School Districts and their management is especially contentious in light of Georgia’s 10% drop in per-pupil spending since 2010.  In 2014, Georgia averaged $9,202 spending per-pupil against a national average of $11,841.  Opponents of Amendment 1 argue that bringing funding levels up to at least national averages would give failing districts money to hire more experienced teachers, counselors, social workers and technology, three spending areas which have shown great impact on student performance nationwide.

Opposition across north Georgia is bipartisan.  Fannin County Democrats invited Dr. Bette Holland on the Committee to Keep Georgia  Schools Local to speak about Amendment 1 back in August ( see “Keep Georgia Schools Local Hosts Forum about Proposed Georgia Constitutional Amendment”).  School boards across north Georgia which have passed opposition resolutions consist mainly, if not entirely, of Republican members.

As of October 18th, North Georgia counties Pickens, Gilmer, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Rabun and Murray have joined 48 other Georgia school boards in voting resolutions of opposition against Amendment 1.  Fannin County School Board has not.


School districts opposing Amendment 1 as of Oct. 18Georgia school districts opposing Amendment 1. Map provided by Public Education Matters and Keep Georgia Schools Local

Georgia school districts opposing Amendment 1 as of Oct. 18. Map provided by Public Education Matters and Keep Georgia Schools Local.


Below is how Amendment 1 appears on the state ballot:

Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing public schools in order to improve student performance?

( ) Yes

( ) No



School Board To Consider Lowering Millage Rate


At the end of August, the Fannin County School Board will vote on whether to drop the current millage rate of 12.9 to 12.38 at the end of August.  At this time the Board will also vote on the Fannin County School System budget for the academic year 2016-2917. (click here to review budget).

The Board’s consideration of lowering the millage rate is due to the expected change in the 2016 Fannin County Tax Digest.  The 2015 Tax Digest adjusted net value is $1,205,958,493.  The anticipated adjusted net value for 2016 is $1,253,803,250, a positive difference of $47,844,757.  If the School Board maintains the millage rate at 12.9 for next year, then the School Board would, in effect, be increasing taxes.

The total budget estimate for academic year 2016-2017 is $33,361,363.  Approximately 87% of that is for salary and benefits (Fannin County School System is the largest employer in Fannin County). Money to run the Fannin County School System comes from a close to 50/50 split between county property taxes and funds from the state and federal governments.  For much of the past year, the system ran at 2% under-budget.  By the end of the fiscal year, the school system was running 4% under budget.

The school system does receive funds through E-SPLOST.  This money can only be used on capital projects like building renovations such as the new science labs at the high school, completed this summer, or the FCHS gymnasium, completed last school year.  This fall the system will begin building a new agriculture facility, which will also be open to use for community functions.  (read about agriculture facility here).


According to School Superintendent Mark Henson, E-SPLOST not only brings in money to pay for first-class facilities and technology for Fannin students, it frees up money that the schools can put into quality education programs.

One program that the school system wants to increase is pre-K.  This year is the first time Fannin County schools have offered pre-K.  The inaugural program is two classes at Blue Ridge Elementary School.  The school system hopes to have pre-K programs at East Fannin and West Fannin within a few years.  The  other publically-supported pre-K program in the county is Ninth District Opportunity Headstart/Pre-K in Mineral Bluff. It receives funding from the federal government.

The School Board will hold a special-called meeting on Tuesday, August 23rd at 5:30 to hear public comments on the millage rate and 2016-2017 annual budget.


Runoff Results: Jones Wins Chief Magistrate, Galloway Wins School Board

Election, News

Results of the Fannin County results came in at 8:22 pm on July 27.  In the Chief Magistrate race, Brian Jones won with 53.3% (1260 votes) to Sherri Walker’s 46.7% (1104 votes).  The difference between the two is 156 votes.  Since there is no Democrat challenger in November, Brian Jones will be Chief Magistrate.

In the School Board race, Chad Galloway won with 59.35% (1305 votes) to Clarence Farmer’s 40.65% (894).  There is no Democrat running for the School Board in November.  Galloway will replace Sandra Mercier.

Fannin’s results will not be official until Friday, as the Board of Elections is still certifying provisional and absentee ballots.  The small number of yet uncounted votes will not be enough to change the election’s outcome.



Early Voting Begins for July 26 Runoffs

Election, News

July 5th  begins early voting in local election runoffs.  Early voting is from 9 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday at the Fannin County Courthouse.  Your last day to request an absentee ballot is on July 22.  On July 26, all polling places will be open from 7 am to 7 pm.

There are two runoffs in Fannin County, one for the Board of Education and one for Chief Judge of Magistrate Court.  The Board of Education is between Clarence “Junior” Farmer, who received 31.27% of the May 24th primary vote and Chad Galloway, who received 39.26%.  The Magistrate Judge race is between Brian Jones, who received 35.66% of primary votes and Sherri Walker, who received 46.25% of votes.  Since there is no Democrat competing for the office, whoever wins the runoff will win the election.

Mary Ann Conner of the Board of Elections for Fannin County said that 62 people voted at the courthouse for the first day of early voting, a surprisingly large number for local run-off elections.

In other election news,  Diane Newsome is qualifying to run on the November ballot against incumbent Lewis DeWeese for his School Board seat.  Ms. Newsome filled out her official paperwork already.  She must turn in her petition with enough valid Fannin voter signatures by July 12th in order to be  on the November ballot.  Ms. Conner said that two other people came in to attempt to qualify:  one person for Terry Bramlett’s School Board seat and another for a Commissioner seat.  However, neither of these turned in completed official paperwork by July 1st and cannot run.

Click here to read May 24 Fannin County Primary Results

Magistrate Judge candidate - Sherri Walker

Magistrate Judge candidate – Sherri Walker

Magistrate Judge candidate - Brian Jones

Magistrate Judge candidate – Brian Jones


School Board candidate - Chad Galloway

School Board candidate – Chad Galloway

School Board Candidate - Clarence "Junior" Farmer

School Board Candidate – Clarence “Junior” Farmer


School Board Race Highlights Candidates’ Different Experience

Election, News, Politics

There are three school board seats up for reelection this year: Sandra Mercier Seat, Lewis DeWeese Seat and Terry Bramlett Seat.  Both Lewis DeWeese and Terry Bramblett are running again for their respective seats.  There are three candidates for the Sandra Mercier Seat, Jeremy Davis, Clarence “Junior” Farmer and Chad Galloway.  Ms. Mercier is stepping down from her school board position in December, which marks 42 years of service she has given educating Fannin’s children.

In the school board race, the difference is in personal experience the candidates will use to inform their decisions.

Jeremy Davis, a graduate of Fannin County School System, has served on the school governance team at his children’s elementary school.  The governance teams act like a mini-school board which makes decisions uniquely suited to the school.  By doing such, Mr. Davis understands the policy and administration aspects of education. On his school governance team he has pursued tools that increase educational experience.  Right now he is working on a TVA grant which, if awarded, will bring outdoor classrooms and nature trails to Fannin elementary schools.  One of the toughest challenges he sees for the school system is the Milestones test which tests achievement at various grade level.  The tests are still being modified by the state and Mr. Davis wants to help kids transition to the different test-taking skills needed.

Chad Galloway, like Mr. Davis, is a graduate of Fannin County School System.  His experience is in facility maintenance, which, next to personnel, is the biggest expense of a school system.  Also, in work in maintenance for the Gilmer County school system, he hears the daily conversations between students and teachers, so he understands more of the everyday life inside the school.  From being around many different kids of many different ages, he sees the influence society has on kids and wants to see school be a safe zone for children.

Clarence Farmer pulls on his previous Fannin County School Board experience.  While on the Fannin County School Board, Mr. Farmer helped hire Mark Henson as Superintendent and Erik Cioffi as Fannin High School Principal.  Mr. Farmer promised the audience that he will give the same dedication and wisdom to the school board that he did before.


FetchYourNews is compiling voters’ questions to the candidates.  If you have any questions for  Mr. Davis, Mr. Farmer or Mr. Galloway, submit them in the comments section at the end of the Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide. Please don’t include editorial statements in the question. FetchYourNews will be asking candidates these questions in interviews throughout the campaign season.



See Related Posts:  Fannin Elections Voters’ Guide: Names, Faces and Candidate Information



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