Houston County superintendent candidates discuss their views as Super Tuesday approaches

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - As voters head to the polls tomorrow, a decision on the future of education for Houston County schools will be at stake.

Superintendent David Sewell is being challenged by long-time educator Brandy White.

They are both republicans, and they don't have any democratic challengers, which means that whoever wins tomorrow, is just about guaranteed to win in November.

"I have 41 years this year," said Sewell.

David Sewell has 41 years in education, the last four of which have been as superintendent of Houston County Schools.

A position he's not ready to give up.

"We have six four year old classes in the district,” said Sewell. “I'm looking to add some more. We've upped our graduation rates and we have a high CCR. I feel like we're moving in the right direction."

Then, along game challenger Brandy White, who's in his 20th year as an educator. The last eight of which have been as an assistant principal at Webb Elementary.

"I think the first thing that we need to do is come up with some goals,” said White. “Four year goals, eight year goals for each term. I think we need to sit down with the board and the other administrators and discuss a plan for attaining those goals. Definitely facilities, technology and approving the secondary scores."

Aside from increased graduation rates and college and career readiness, David Sewell prides himself on the infrastructure improvements he's gotten passed.

"We have a new field house at cottonwood at the baseball field. We have a new concession stand at Wicksburg, and more importantly we have a new lunchroom at Rehobeth Middle, which was long time overdue,” said Sewell.

Challenger Brandy White's Webb Elementary had the highest score of all title one schools in the state in 2018, and raised that score again last year.

Success he'd like to take system wide.

"I think our elementary test scores have been wonderful, but in secondary, we do have some work to do,” said White. “The ACT scores have been down, cumulatively they are the lowest they've been in six years. I think we need to come up with a program to improve those scores for our students going to college as well as continuing to implement programs for our students that may not be going to college."

The district has been in the public's eye the past six months with a malware attack that disrupted the start of school.

"I would do just about the same thing, or almost the same thing,” said Sewell. “There's one thing I would do different. I would get outside help from schools different. You need to be education minded in order to deal with these attacks in a school."

White also commented on the handling of the malware attack as well as the Ashford teacher texts scandal in November.

"Some of the things that came up, I didn't have all the information on those things, so it's hard for me to say how I would've handled it, not being involved. Sometimes, there may not be a good answer for everything, but I think we just need to make a decision on things."

Both candidates have stressed a need for improvements in vocational education in the school system.

Both candidates have also spent more than a decade as teachers in Rehobeth.