PHOTO: District 4 DeKalb County Board of Education Member Matt Sharp announces his bid for a second term. Sharp supports school security measures such as maintaining an School Resource Office (SRO) in each community with a school and arming trained teachers as well as staff. (Contributed Photo)
By Staff Reports
SYLVANIA, Ala. — Matt Sharp has announced his candidacy for re-election to the District 4 seat on the DeKalb County Board of Education. Mr. Sharp has served one term on the School Board and was elected in 2012. He is a 1986 graduate of Sylvania High School. After high school, he attended Northeast State Junior College and later earned his degree in Accounting and Mathematics from Jacksonville State University in 1990.
Mr. Sharp worked for the State of Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts for 9 years where he audited State and local governmental units for legal and financial compliance. He earned his CPA in 1999 and was hired by the County Commission as the County’s Chief Administrative Officer in 2000.
Mr. Sharp has been very active in his community, serving as Vice-President and later President of Sylvania Youth Sports and coached youth basketball and baseball for 20 years. He also serves as the bookkeeper for the Sylvania Rams Varsity Boys Basketball, a position he has held regularly for the past 18 years. He also served one term on the Sylvania Town Council from 2004 - 2008.
Matt Sharp promised to be a “hands on” board member when he was elected and he has made every effort to do that. “I try to return every voicemail, text message and email that I receive”, Sharp said. “We have added transparency to the board meetings by stating every name that comes before the Board instead of passing a list of unnamed hires that visitors to Board meetings had to search to find after the meetings. And we have started the process of rotating the Chairman of the Board to each Board Member every two years”. Rotating the Chairman of the Board spreads the workload out to each Board Member and prevents any one district from controlling the Board’s agenda. Mr. Sharp served as Board Chairman for 2 years from 2014-2016, being the only Chairman of the Board from District 4 in recent history.
Mr. Sharp’s number one priority at this time is school safety. An incident happened at Sylvania High School after hours last month that caused great concern in the community and especially amongst the teachers and students that were on campus. “In 2000, Superintendent Richard Land approached then Commission President Charles O. Bell with a grant proposal for a full-time SRO at every school”, Sharp said. “However, this was a one-time 3-year grant that expired in 2003 and although a plan was adopted by the governing bodies of both school systems, the County Commission and Sheriff Cecil Reed to ask the legislature for a referendum to provide a revenue measure for school safety, the legislature would not allow for a vote on a tax referendum, so the SRO Program was abolished. A few years later efforts were made to bring SROs back to the system. Without any additional funding, Mr. Sharp (as County Administrator) along with the Sheriff, County Superintendent and County Commission found ways to bring back a few part-time SROs. Now, there are some full-time and some part-time SROs at every community with a school in the County. Mr. Sharp still believes more needs to be done and he will do everything he can to provide safety to the schools, regardless if he is re-elected to the school board.
“We need to harden access to school facilities and provide additional cameras to the system”, Sharp said. He is also supportive of efforts to allow certain teachers authority to arm themselves on school property on a conditional basis. “I can support authorizing teachers to be armed on their school campus with the condition that they pass an initial mental evaluation and they undergo a stringent training program, much like law enforcement officers, prior to being authorized to carry any firearm onto a school campus. I also believe periodic training and mental evaluations should be required. Under the right circumstances and with the proper amount of training, an educator carrying a concealed weapon would act much like an air marshal would on a commercial air flight. No one would have to know which educator is carrying a weapon; however, if it is generally known that educators carry weapons, it could be a significant deterrent to someone seeking to do harm to the children of our communities”.
Matt Sharp’s roots run deep in DeKalb County. His family has lived in DeKalb County for as long as DeKalb has been a part of the State of Alabama. He loves his community, his County, his State and his Country and he strives to make the lives of those around him better each day. He asks for your support for his re-election bid during the Republican Primary Election on June 5, 2018.