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Political newcomer announces school board bid
John Dunivan
John Dunivan

John Dunivan today announced his plans to run for the District 3 seat on the Bryan County Schools Board of Education.

The seat is currently held by Amy Murphy, who said last month she will run for school board chair this year. Murphy will have to resign her seat in order to do so according to state law, and the election to fill the seat will be for the remaining two years in the term.

“I have been thinking of running for a while because I think I can bring a lot to the table,” Dunivan said. “When Amy told me she had to step down from her District 3 seat, I thought this was the perfect time.”

Dunivan, an Army veteran and IT professional, has lived in Richmond Hill with his wife Jessica and their three children since 2005. He is employed as a civilian contractor at Fort Stewart.

“I grew up as an Army brat and having served in the military myself I understand what those students and what those families go through,” he said. “I feel like I can give them a voice on the school board.”

He also said his IT training could be useful as a board member, especially with the planned opening of a new high school in South Bryan in 2021.

“We want to make sure it is has the most advanced technology possible, but it also needs to be user-friendly,” he said. “We need to make sure it has technology that teachers and students will understand and benefit from.”

Dunivan said he’s also well-suited for the board as he has children at every level of school, with a son in high school, a son in middle school and a daughter in primary school.

“Our son in middle school will be the first freshman class at the new high school and our daughter is in kindergarten, so I’m in this for the long haul,” he said.

Dunivan also noted that he takes a “common sense” approach to issues and has not always agreed with the board’s decisions. A recent change in the attendance policy, for example, is one area.

“Our oldest son was out sick for a week recently,” he said. “We knew he was sick and that he’d be fine, but we had to get a doctor’s note to get his absences excused.”

The new policy raised concerns when the district said all absences — including those called in by parents — would be considered unexcused without a doctor’s note.

“I understand why they did it, but I didn’t necessarily agree with the change,” he said. “I see this as a chance to bring another voice to the discussion and give my input. If you don’t get involved, then you can’t complain about decisions you disagree with.”

Qualifying for the special election to fill the unexpired term for District 3 will be in March, but the timeline has not been decided yet. Regular qualifying will be March 5-9, with the primary election May 22.

Aside from chair, Districts 1, 4 and 5 are up for re-election. Marianne Smith, who represents District 4, has announced her intent to run again. Districts 1 and 5 are represented by Paine Bacon and David Schwartz, respectively.

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