When it comes to batting around the issues facing the Williamson County Board of Education, Jay Galbreath knows which buttons to push.
Or to be more precise, the representative for District 6 on the school board for Williamson County Schools is not one to shy away from discussion. If such a tally is kept, Galbreath is likely the hands-down leader on sparking talk while the board is in session.
“I love conversation, so I’m for more transparency, more discussion,” said Galbreath, an accountant who is one of five partners in a health care analytics firm. “Sometimes, were it not for me pushing a button at a meeting to ask a question, no questions would have been asked.
“But then we’ll proceed to have 30 minutes of conversation that I always enjoy because it’s more of a meeting of the minds and understanding where everybody comes from. When we just sit there and vote, and don’t discuss, it just looks like we’re rubber-stamping.”
Galbreath, a Republican, is looking to keep his seat against challengers Kristi Bidinger and Deborah Pace, both independents, in the Aug. 4 county school board election. Galbreath ran unopposed when he was first elected in 2014 and again in 2018.
A lifelong resident of Williamson County who grew up in Brentwood and graduated from Brentwood High School in 1993, Galbreath has five kids with his wife, Candi, ranging in age from 13 to 21. All of their children have either graduated from, attended or currently attend a WCS school. Galbreath said having such an investment in schools gives him a reason for placing something of a priority on parents.
“I’m a guy who thinks that parents are best to make the choices for their kids, that they’re the ultimate expert in what the best thing is for their kids,” he said. “Obviously, the schools and the teachers are the experts in education. You trust them with that. But when it comes to where those two meet, it’s a partnership.”
While some candidates haven’t been particularly pleased with the fact that they’ve had to declare a party affiliation for the first time, Galbreath believes that it’s helpful to see where board members stand politically.
“Sometimes that impacts our decision making,” he said. “I don’t want to inject politics into the school board, but you can’t deny the fact that political and social issues are adjudicated in the school system policy. It just happens. Schools are the intersection of where all the social system meets, so we do have to address those when they come.
“I enjoy the nonpolitical stuff on the board much more. I love talking about growth, I love talking about planning, getting our zoning right, making our schools bigger — I love dealing with those issues. Obviously, I’m a finance guy and I like the budget and understanding where we’re spending our money.”
Since this is his first election in which he has faced challengers, Galbreath has been busy scheduling meet-and-greets, putting out yard signs and knocking on doors.
“I’m just excited to have a chance to be able to do this for four more years,” he said. “At the end of that, my youngest will be a junior in high school. I’m not going to commit to whether I will run again or not, but I think it’s important to have direct connections to the schools while you’re on the board. I think you need to know how these things are impacting people. Hopefully this is for four more years and I could let someone else take over at that point.”