Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna easily won his bid for a second term on Tuesday. Hanna ran against Pam Hightower, a woman of color. Hanna received 93,062 votes while Hightower received 62,425, according to the Leon County Supervisor of Elections office.
Hanna stressed “keeping the children safe and giving families options,” in his campaign video found on rockyhanna.com.
While already in the position, Hanna and the School Board invested $65 million into improving Rickards High School and Fairview Middle School without borrowing any money. He supported “art and music schools” by giving $3 million for necessities.
In February of 2018 after the Parkland shooting, Hanna planned a detailed and safe plan for all the schools in Leon County. Along with the execution of this plan he hired 49 sworn law enforcement officers and 50 safety patrol monitors. He then hired 20 mental health counselors for each middle and high school.
Hanna was a teacher prior to winning the superintendent’s position in 2016. As superintendent Hanna hired 22 behavioral specialists for the elementary schools. These specialist jobs were to conduct risk assessments and help identify students who can benefit from special support.
On Hanna’s website, he says, “Now is the time for all of us to get busy again. Teachers teaching and students learning. As the former Chief Justice once said, ‘We must meet the challenge rather than simply wish it was not here.’ With hard work and perseverance, we will meet the challenge. Those of us in public education have said for many years we should be considered essential workers. This is our chance to prove it. Our children are depending on us.”
The way Hanna decided to handle the reopening of Leon County Schools played a significant role in his campaign.
Bridgett Bethea, a mother of a junior at Leon High, said she voted for Hanna. “I watched a lot of the school board meetings and the way he handled questions and carried himself throughout the planning of COVID-19 was astounding. He took time to talk to parents one on one and answer any concerning questions,” Bethel said. “He made me feel comfortable to allow my child to attend school in person. He’s been very informative and helpful throughout the whole COVID-19 situation.
Although Hightower lost the election, she gave Hanna a fair race. “Though we did not get the outcome we wanted we are still happy that so many people were willing to stand with us in our attempt to make a change in Leon County Schools,” Hightower said in a Facebook post. “We also want to go offer congratulations to Rocky Hanna. We hope that you are successful in your approach to educate our students.”