Muscogee County School District: What the candidates think District 7 needs

Muscogee County School District: What the candidates think District 7 needs

By Kirsten J. Barnes

Muscogee County School District 7 Candidate Laketha Ashe said she is concerned that of the four seats on the May 21 ballot, only one candidate has opposition.

When no one challenges the status quo, she said, people become complacent.

“We have to be a part of the change that we want to see,” said Ashe. “We speak about how it’s our right to vote, but we are not allowing people to have that opportunity to exercise that right when have the same people in these positions making these decisions for us with little or no change.”

Ashe will face incumbent Board Member Patricia “Pat” Frey, while current board members Pat Hugley Green (District 1), Venessa K. Jackson (District 3) and Laurie Cochran McRae (District 5) are running unopposed.

An incumbent, Frey has held the District 7 School Board seat for less than a year since winning a special election in July 2023. She is hoping to retain the seat and complete a full term.

Frey said her focus has been creating community partnerships to provide wraparound services for students outside of regular school hours because teachers cannot do everything.

“I want to make sure that all of our schools have a support system outside the walls of the schools,” Frey said. “At 4 or 5 p.m. when everyone has gone home, the needs of our students continue.”

Frey, who has lived in Columbus since 1978 and graduated from Baker High School, said she is running because she wants “all students to have equitable access to education in all areas of the community.”

Ashe said she decided to run to give voters a choice and a reason to cast a ballot.

“Right now, many people ask: ‘Why do I have to vote for school board?’ ‘Why is it important?’ Everybody has a part to play on the school board, not just the board members, not just administrators and not just the parents,” she said. “The students and even the community [have] a part to play in strengthening this school system.” 

Ashe, whose father was stationed at Fort Benning when she was a child, returned to the area in 2000, educating all three of her children in District 7.

“My children went to Key Elementary, Eddy Middle School and graduated from Spencer High School. So I am pretty much familiar with all the schools here in the district,” Ashe said. 

She said the school district is plagued by the same problems year after year because it doesn’t have enough community engagement nor new ideas.

“We are pretty much stuck in these same situations and none of our concerns are being met,” said Ashe, who operates a commercial printing company and a beauty supply store with her husband.

Frey said she has already begun bringing together community organizations with members of the school district administration to meet the needs of the community.

“Safety is a major concern – the feeling of safety and true safety,” Frey said. “We had an incident in the neighborhood where there was a double murder near a school.”

In January, Theodore Alexander, 34, and Troyverion Williams, 21, were found murdered on Wise Street, near Key Elementary School.

“The people need to know that their fears are not only being heard, but that we are addressing their concerns,” Frey said.

Ashe said she wants to focus on bringing up the standards at the schools within District 7.

“During my children’s entire educational career, they were enrolled in schools that were all on the needs improvement list,” Ashe said. “That needs to change.”


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