The winner of the July 31 primary will face Democrat incumbent Alison Bartlett on the Nov. 6 ballot. Bartlett was elected in 2008, but the district was reapportioned this year to include more of wealthy west Cobb.
Wheeler, 57, is a retired school administrator originally from upstate New York. He taught and coached at Pebblebrook High for 17 years and was an administrator at McEachern High for nine years. He still fills in as a substitute administrator in Cobb schools.
“Our goal should be to provide the best education we can afford for our children,” he said. “It appears we have money for ‘pet’ projects and not essentials in the classroom where learning takes place.”
Wheeler said he didn’t believe the revised Strategic Plan, which the board has been rewriting since early spring, would have any affect on student learning. He hesitated to say how he’ll vote on the Nov. 6 proposed constitutional amendment to allow state-created charter schools because he is still studying the issue.
However, the former educator was firm in stating that he does not support Teach For America.
“It makes no sense to offer positions to recent college graduates who have not been trained when we are cutting back our current staff,” he said.
Wheeler also said he wouldn’t support using the $25 million in Race to the Top funds the district is applying for to pay for the TFA program’s costs.
“A lot of that federal stuff has strings to it,” he said. “You’d have to know what the strings are before you support it.”
In regards to Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa recently sending nearly 150 district staff members and educators to Orlando for the Model Schools Conference, Wheeler called it a public relations “disaster.”
“We need to look at better ways, which are less costly, to achieve our goals,” he said.
He’s been campaigning by using Facebook, asking friends to help promote his campaign and just talking to whoever he sees on the street.
“You’re starting at square one, one step at a time,” he said. “It’s not just an overnight thing.”
According to the June 30 campaign finance report, Wheeler has collected about $1,140 in donations for his campaign, and has a balance of about $241.