Editor’s Note: The Santa Rosa Press Gazette concludes its series featuring Santa Rosa County candidates running in the Aug. 28 primary election and Nov. 6 general election.

MILTON — Scott Peden of Gulf Breeze is running for Santa Rosa County School Board District 5 with no party affiliation. Peden was elected to the school board and took office in 2010, and was reelected in 2014.

Peden’s wife, Renee’, is a third-grade teacher at Gulf Breeze Elementary School and Peden has worked in the cable television industry his whole career.

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in Macon, Georgia. I went to college at West Georgia College and [majored] in communication. Then I got into the cable TV business 35 years ago, and I’ve been in that business ever since.

I worked for awhile in Alabama, I got promoted over there and I was in management for probably the last 22 years. I got transferred down here in 1990 and that’s how I came to Santa Rosa County the first time, and I fell in love with the place. I’ve been living or working here since 1990.

I’m still in the cable business. I’m the regional manager for a contracting company that contracts for Mediacom, and I’ve been doing that since 2004.

Why are you running for school board?

In 2009, I decided to run for school board. I have always been involved in the schools through business; our business always supported education in funding and in volunteering and things like that. I was always involved with my kids in school, and ... being married to a teacher I learned a lot about education.

I had a wish to get involved in politics one day if something came along that I thought would suit me and I would do a good job. The school board position was coming up for reelection in Santa Rosa County and I just talked to my wife about it and she said go for it, and we did. I got elected and then ran for reelection four years later, and was reelected.

We had to make that decision again the end of last year, and I felt like I’ve done a good job, I felt like the people of Santa Rosa County think I’ve done a good job. I think I’ve done the best I can to take care of the kids and the teachers and the taxpayers, and I thought I would give it one more try and try for one more term.

Sometimes eight years feels like a long time, and then sometimes it feels like it just flew by. It was a group decision between me and my wife. Being a teacher, being married to a school board member is different. She’s on board and realizes it’s for the benefit of the children and the county, so that’s why we ran.

What would you like to accomplish if reelected?

I think our biggest challenge is growth. The county is growing exponentially, particularly in the south end and in the Pace area. We are going to have to build a new school on the south end.

We’ve got plans in the works. We’ve got it approved from the state, which is a very lengthy process, and it always runs behind with the state; they won’t give it to you unless you’re busting at the seams. We’ve got to that point, so we’re going to be in the phase of constructing a new school.

We’re also looking to indentify areas of land that we can purchase for future growth, because land is going away fast. They’re developing on every piece of vacant land there is and the prices are continuing to go up. We may not do anything with it for 10 years, but 10 years from now that land is not going to be there. We’re really in a phase of planning for the future and the growth of Santa Rosa County.

Our other biggest challenge is dealing with the state and funding. They just continue to cut funding. Tallahassee has not become a friend of education. That is a huge challenge and I think that’s going to be a lot of my focus, as it has been, is to at least try and work with the legislators and get them to understand there’s a lot of things they can do and change that benefits all of Florida, not just Santa Rosa County. It’s a tough process.

Another goal is to keep our academic standards high and keep our students ranking No. 1, 2, 3 in the state. The school system is certainly one of the reasons people move to Santa Rosa County, and that’s evident by Navarre; a lot of the military move to Navarre and then have children because they want to put them in Santa Rosa County schools. That’s the reason I moved [here] in 1990 was because I wanted my kids in Santa Rosa County schools.

With the new testing and all the new mandates that come from the state, it’s tough. Things are constantly changing and people don’t understand how complicated all that is. Everything costs the districts a lot of money to implement and do whatever they’ve got to do.

During the depression in 2008, our finances got very low; our reserve was very low. It was so low that if it gets below a certain point, the state actually comes in and takes over. We were close to that, so we had to make a lot of tough decisions on cutting back.

I know before I got on the board, they changed to the three-tier bus system. We had to eliminate the seven-period days and the block scheduling in the high schools, which that does affect students because they lost electives and things like that we wanted to be able to offer.

We’ve got our financial condition ratio back in line now. We’ve worked very hard and we’ve got it up to the seven percent plus area that we need to be at to feel comfortable that those reserves would carry us through another Hurricane Ivan or something like that.

Now we’re looking at other ways to bring back some of the things that may have been affected by budget cuts, and that includes teacher salaries and a number of things, and maybe getting back to a seven-period day or something like it where we can get more electives in for the high school students.

Another goal is we’re working toward getting where we can have a meeting, or several, in the south end of the county. I think we’ve got that worked out, we just haven’t announced which meeting it will be yet because we’ve got to get the audio-visual facilities in place.

That’s something the voters in the south end have been asking for, and the teachers; it’s a long drive to Milton, and I understand that. So that should happen this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing that happen.