Change Address

VOTE411 Voter Guide

New Hanover County Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The New Hanover County Board of Education is the local governing body of the County Public School System. Its members are elected in partisan elections at large and serve staggered 4-year terms.The 7-member school board has 5 primary responsibilities:1. Employ the superintendent2. Establish policy3. Determine annual operating and capital budgets4. Approve student assignment boundaries5. Oversee the management of the school district’s major systems, including budget and finance, curriculum and instruction, personnel and auxiliary services

Click a candidate icon to find more information about the candidate. To compare two candidates, click the "compare" button. To start over, click a candidate icon.

  • Candidate picture

    Stephanie Kraybill
    (Rep)

  • Candidate picture

    Hugh McManus
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Chris Meek
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Stephanie Walker
    (Dem)

  • Candidate picture

    Pete Wildeboer
    (Rep)

Biographical Information

What experience and qualities do you feel you bring to this office? (YouTube link or text, or both)

What do you think is the most important responsibility of a school board member?

What are the critical state funding needs for this county’s schools and how would you address those needs?

How would you assess teacher satisfaction in the county and how would you promote professional development?

Pre-Kindergarten is: [Importance Scale]

Please explain your choice.

What are the issues in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers?

Age (optional) 58
Contact Phone (910) 256-5686
Position/philosophy statement All children can and want to learn, so we must meet them where they are and use appropriate teaching strategies and resources to make that a reality.
I am an Industrial Engineer from Va. Tech and a self-employed Safety Consultant. I am a substitute teacher. I volunteer in the community: PTA (local units, district Council, NCPTA), Communities In Schools, Azalea Festival Youth Art & High Writing Contests, and recruit volunteers for local races. My primary volunteer focus is NHCS. I currently serve on the Title IX, Crisis Management, School Health Advisory, and All Hands on Deck Committees. I have served on many other school and community committees: Strategic Plan 2006-10, the work group that created / rolled out our Career and Technical High School SEA-Tech, Eliminating the Achievement Gap Committee, Blue Ribbon Commission for the Prevention of Youth Violence Committee (now Voyage)’s Education Action Team, and Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Education Action Committee. I am uniquely qualified for this role because I am a demonstrated leader, a Sleeve-Roller-Upper and a Do-er. I have earned accolades for my work, but am most proud of how I have put my words and ideas, in partnership with those of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and community members, into action over the years. I am a Search and Re-Apply kind of girl, always looking for best practices and innovative, yet manageable strategies to bring into our classrooms and into daily operations of the school system. I am a passionate advocate for engaging parents/community to contribute their time, talent and voice to improve our schools
There are several equally important responsibilities of School Board members. First, they must commit to showing up on time to and staying to the end of meetings and to actively participating on committees and in school system events. They must treat each other and all education stakeholders (students, parents, teachers, administrators, counselors/social workers, support and ancillary employees, and community members) with respect. They must work as a unified and cohesive team, recognizing, valuing, and utilizing each other’s individual skill sets.

School Board members hire a competent Superintendent and then ensure that he has what he needs to run an exemplary school system that delivers high quality education to all its students via high quality and appropriately trained education professionals and support and ancillary staff, in clean, safe, and well-maintained facilities and athlete venues. This involves proactively asking questions and learning about each department and its role.

School Board members create and adopt clear and thorough policies and then provide oversight on consistent compliance with those policies and supporting standard operating procedures and guidelines. They approve and monitor the annual budget and seek and solidify local, regional, state, and federal partnerships and grants to enhance the budget.

Finally, School Board members must regularly seek input from all education stakeholders and be willing to try new things even if they are hard.
1. Covid compliance - There are so many layers of Covid-related safety precautions that are required by the CDC and state and local Health and Human Services departments in order to reopen safely schools, not only for PPE and cleaning supplies, but also for transportation restrictions and HVAC operation and maintenance.

2. More mental health support staff - Most schools in NC do not have the recommended ratio of counselors, social workers, and psychologists to students, that enables schools to provide services in real time. This is concerning as stress rampantly permeates all of our lives. Partnerships with Dept. of Public Health for school nurses, Dept. of Health and Human Services for mental health personnel, Coastal Horizons (via WHAT clinic) professionals, and Communities In Schools for Student Support Specialists, among others, have already been established but we still need more human resources in our buildings for relationship building and providing ongoing social-emotional training and support for staff and students.

3. Reduced class sizes

4. Technology and Internet Access for students

How to get funding/resources? Reach out regularly to State Legislators and County Commissioners (who provide ~30% of NHCS budget income) and other local resources, such as City of Wilmington, in-kind business partnerships, endowments, and grants, for targeted financial and human resource support. Explore forming an educational foundation and asking for a bond referendum.
Teacher satisfaction can be gauged formally and informally in a number of ways. Brief periodic surveys can be done at the school level, within departments (math, arts, EC, etc) and across the district. Results should be shared with the surveyed group and higher with the intent to celebrate the positive trends and to create action plans that address any negative trends. School Improvement Teams and teacher organizations are excellent survey hosts.

Direct dialogue should also be used to take the pulse of teacher satisfaction. The Board of Education should host regularly scheduled “Town Hall” type meetings with teachers/educators to listen to their concerns personally and encourage the Superintendent to do the same. BoE members should visit schools and have casual conversations with teachers, staff, and administrators and observe them in action.

Ongoing professional development is key to a maintaining a thriving workforce. I want to learn more about how NHCS selects and tracks mandatory professional development for its teachers and other employees. Understanding there is not much wiggle room with school calendars, I would like to see them created to allow for more professional development opportunities (use half days?). Topics can include additional multi-cultural sensitivity, implicit bias, and trauma-informed communities training as well as teaching best practices for virtual instruction and face2face instruction (Action Based Learning) and for working with parents.
Very unimportant
Somewhat unimportant
Neither important nor unimportant
Somewhat important
Very important
Starting school at an early age increases a child's chance of succeeding in school since a significant amount of brain development occurs prior to the age of 5. Pre-kindergarten can help decrease the educational gap between low-income and minority students and their higher income and non-minority counterparts. It provides children with a foundation for number and letter recognition, reading, and problem-solving using structured and unstructured play that makes learning fun. It provides a framework for developing other important skills for school such as peer interaction and socialization, paying attention, and following rules and directions. But most importantly, pre-kindergarten sets children on the path to becoming lifetime learners.
I see several issues as very important in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers. (1) assuring teachers that someone is researching and lobbying for avenues towards higher pay for entry level and veteran teachers (e.g., supplements, stipends, bonus pay for a Master's degree), for more professional development and for additional intrinsic benefits; (2) ensuring teachers have a safe, healthy, and positive working environment; and (3) making an intentional effort to direct minority students into the teaching profession and then recruiting minority teacher interns and teachers to our school system.

Teachers are more likely to stay if they are (1) valued and recognized for their tireless work in and out of the classroom, perhaps even rewarded somehow when their work increases student academic performance and enhances overall school climate; (2) given meaningful opportunities to provide input on school level / school system level issues and then empowered to take action, where possible, on those issues; (3) provided with adequate and timely coaching and professional development at all levels in their teaching career, but especially in their first three years of teaching; (4) working in a school / school system where policies and procedures, systems, equipment, and support resources are in place and consistently enforced to provide a safe, clean, well-maintained, healthy, and positive school environment (physically, socially, emotionally) for all students, teachers, and staff.
Age (optional) 72
email address duckhugh@aol.com
Position/philosophy statement Every personal and professional decision we make becomes a deposit or a withdrawal intended or not including non-verbal body language.
My 40+ years provide me with a strong resume of successes and mistakes. I have dealt with staff, finances, scheduling, academics, athletics, discipline and safety. My door was open to any student, staff or parent to walk in to meet with me at any time. I set high expectations for myself to do what was right for students. In 1989, I recommended Shelia Boles to be the Hoggard Men’s Varsity Basketball Coach. The county AD came to see me to say, “he would not support a woman in a man’s role”. It was a 4/3 vote with all 4 board women voting yes. In 1999, Shelia became the first female high school AD in the county. In 2017, the new gym was named for her. In 2019, Shelia’s jersey was retired at UNCW. Several of my female athletes came to me for support to add a Girls’ Soccer program in the county. Again, I was told by the county AD, “I was creating problems because “women’s sports were not revenue makers.” We started a Girl’s Club Soccer with parent support, invited girls from the other schools and next year we had Girls’ Soccer as a county sport. I am a Leadership NC graduate, served 4 years on the National Merit Scholarship Committee, a District 13 PTA Outstanding District Educator, Principal of the year in New Hanover and Pender County, recognized as a designated National Blue Ribbon Exemplary High School, Regional National School Counselor Principal Advocate of the Year, NC Scholastic Media Association Administrator of the Year and a UNCW Razor Walker Award Recipient.
. I truly believe the most important responsibility for a board member now is to publicly acknowledge we have a serious social-diversity learning gap. Our board goals and policies must reflect how we plan to stop the gap from getting wider.

That would include preparing for uncomfortable, difficult but necessary class discussions about diversity and racial history injustices. It does not need to be a result of a shout out in class or overheard comments in the hallway or school graffiti. Our policies should include teacher-counselor proactive planning for history classes?
Staffing to reduce class sizes, improve staff safety and to reduce stress . Salary increases to retain and attract quality staff. Personal and family health concerns may lead to early departure, retirements

Night cleaning staff, supplies, masks, sanitizers

Staffing positions to hire Top Gun virtual experts who are available all year for staff support in maximizing virtual presentations

Technology accessibility for all students

Staffing for Counselors, resource teachers and para educators who will be needed more than ever

The support of our legislators is the variable for state support. The difficult variable is significant tax revenues lost and continued reductions with the possibility of a reduction in state monies allocated. The remaining support will be our local council and commissioners, but they have also seen a significant loss in tax revenues.

.
Surveys that work best should have direct input from the staff who will be surveyed. There are three groups that may be considered for a survey, all staff (including cafeteria staff and custodians), students and parents. This will provide the most accurate data driven pulse on our schools.

Professional development is an important variable for staff. The C-19 crisis will require prioritizing county funded programs by the board and superintendent once the state and county assess their resources. Workshops for staff to help maximize virtual presentations are needed. Proactive workshops for stress related issues in the classrooms and engaging students about the diversity-social issues must be implemented. Counselors will be tremendous assets to lead these discussions, preferably at the beginning of the school year. They are trained to work with conflict. This may be the year of the counselor.

Very unimportant
Somewhat unimportant
Neither important nor unimportant
Somewhat important
Very important
We know we have had a considerable diversity-social learning gap and the pandemic crisis had made it considerably extensive. The immediate challenge is how do we keep it from getting wider? Pre-K is the earliest public structured school program. It is the beginning of developmental skills in socialization, self-control, listening, speaking, vocabulary, taking directions, attention span, independence, interactions with peers and so much more.

More Pre-K teachers and programs in schools are crucial to reduce class sizes to stop the learning gap from expanding.
Diverse Populations Cultural Environment Location Local Supplements Affordable Housing System Perception System Financial support for graduate school classes at night, on line, summer Human Resources Professional Development Teacher’s Personal and classroom available technology and supplies Staff Health and Safety Coaching/Advisor assignments
Age (optional) 54
Contact Phone (910) 231-1553
email address chrismeek1965@gmail.com
Twitter @ILMChris84
Position/philosophy statement Returning integrity to our schools in order to restore the trust of parents, students and teachers in New Hanover County Schools
Being on the front lines of education as an active classroom teacher, I have my finger on the pulse of what is happening in our schools. However, that’s just one facet. I have held numerous leadership positions in school as school leadership chair and department chair, leadership positions in the North Carolina Association of Educators as a local vice president, president and regional director. My education includes a Masters in History and Education, post masters work at UNCW and a 6th Year Advanced Certificate in Leadership in Education Administration that has led to being licensed for any administrative position in the district from superintendent on down. I have been selected by NC DPI to be on the social studies standards writing team in 2009 and 2020. In those positions I have had to work with individuals who have shared and opposed my positions. Having first hand experience in budget analysis, personnel decisions including hiring, firing and suspensions, and introducing, negotiating and establishing policy puts me in a unique position of having a small learning curve.
Creating policy that puts the academic, social and emotional welfare of students first should be first and foremost in the mind of anyone in the position of being a school board member. Board members need to be able to resist political pressures that try to influence policy maing decisions. It would be naive to think that there isn't some personal bias in that decision making, however, our children should not be used as policial pawns. How to open the schools during a pandemic is a perfect example. Elected leaders are basing their decisions on science that backs their political positions, when the infectious disease experts advocate against openning schools to face to face instruction. Israel had to shut back down and Hong Kong is going through its third round of Covid-19 outreaks. Any economic hardships can be rectified by state and federal leadership, the local boards have to make the decisions that put the health and welfare of their students and their families as its number priority.
The current pandemic has made this crystal clear. Keeping districts proplery fundedto be able to equip their students and educators with the technology needed to be proficient in the 21st Century. New Hanover County, regardless of its economic standing in the state was woefully prepared for the crisis it faced. Meanwhile, Onslow County, at Tier I County and where I work, led the state in preparedness. Every teacher is issued a laptop with the latest education and productivity software, including Office 365. Every student from grades 3-12 is issued a laptop with filtered versions of that same software. OCS has been using MS Teams as a instructional platform to supplement classroom instruction. When the schools closed down on March 13, Online learning with nearly full attendance in most classes commenced on March 18. The technology plan based on the idea that OCS Students needed to be prepared for the 21st Century workplace put them in the position to transition into a virtual learning environment nearly seamlessly.

This is just one of the many critical needs, but in our current state of affairs, the most obvious one we should address.
North Carolina conducts a completely anonymous and scientifically validated teacher working conditions survey, there are very specific instructions on how the survey codes are to be distributed and the anonymity of the teachers are protected. This should be taken at leisure of the teachers without administrative influence. This has not always been the case. Administrative influence leads to questionable reliability of the validity of the survey. Data collected could not best be used to determine the professional development needs of the staff as a whole and teachers individually. Furthermore, data collected from the survey should be used as part of the school improvement plan development and implementation.

Upon developing the school improvement plan with valid data from the survey, educators are required to develop their own professional development plan. It should have at least two goals. One that aligns with the district and school improvement plans and one they choose for their indivial professional growth. Allowing this choice empowers teachers to take ownership of their career path and not feel as if they are herded like sheep.
Very unimportant
Somewhat unimportant
Neither important nor unimportant
Somewhat important
Very important
Research has shown that students who participate in Pre-K programs are more likely to graduate from high school. This is especially true for at risk populations.

North Carolina has been educational innovators over the long-haul and the research speaks for itself. According to the Public Schools First NC report in May 2017 on children who attended the state's More at Four program "Poor children who attended the state pre-k program scored higher on third-grade reading EOGs and math EOGs than poor children who had not attended the program... Children had better language, literacy, and math skills following participation in the state pre-k program compared to children who had not participated in the program, based on a study of treatment and comparison groups using a regression discontinuity design (RDD)....Children who attended NC Pre-K had significantly better math and executive function skills at the end of kindergarten than children who did not attend the program....Children who participated in NC Pre-K (More at Four) made greater than expected gains in language, literacy, math, general knowledge, and social skills during pre-k and continuing into kindergarten, based on several longitudinal studies using comparisons to norm-referenced measures."
It's no secret that North Carolina ranks near the bottom of the nation when it comes to teacher pay, the number one factor for an educator when deciding where to work. Unfortunately, the board of education has little control over this. However, in conjunction with the county commissioners can develop community-based programs that would incentivize teachers to want to work in our county.

There is also a critical shortage of teachers of color in our schools. There needs to be a better effort to attract teachers of color to our district. HBCU's such as North Carolina A&T, Winston Salem State, NC Central University, and Fayetteville State are just three of the many fine institutions that produce highly qualified and innovated young teachers. However, they don't seem to be finding out schools on the coast where there are thousands of students of color that could benefit from the cultural understanding these find educators would bring to our classrooms. We should be doing better.

Finally, we need to change the culture of fear and intimidation that has grown in our schools over the last several decades. By creating an environment that is inviting to educators, they are more willing to experiment with innovative learning structures. Under the current culture, the fear prevents teachers from taking those chances which could have significant negative impact on student achievement.
Contact Phone (910) 408-2293
Twitter @StephWalkerILM
Position/philosophy statement Child advocacy is my number one priority. All children should have access to a quality public education in New Hanover County.
As a native Wilmingtonian, I grew up and raised my children through the New Hanover County Public School System. I have firsthand experience with the issues that both students and parents face navigating our schools. I myself had many adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and this upbringing has given me a unique perspective on the struggles that many of our ACEs children face. As a parent, I have had to advocate for both of my children. I have a son, who has Asperger’s, and a daughter, who is academically gifted. I fought for both of them, so that they received the resources they needed to succeed. I will be an advocate for all our community’s children too. I received my Masters in Public Administration at UNCW, where I became passionate about pursuing equity in education. Additionally, I have been active civically, serving on multiple city and county commissions, working with the county Board of Elections, and volunteering in the community in many different capacities. Currently, there is a lack of trust between our community and the school board, and it is my goal to restore integrity and trust in our school system.
The highest responsibility of a school board member is to consistently enact policy focused on the well-being of our children. Putting children first means providing each one of them with the necessary tools needed to reach their highest potential. In some areas, this is lacking in our county. Teachers, parents, and other members of our community, are all part of this conversation too, and they should have a seat at the table. Together we can work towards lifting our kids up, no matter their zip code or skill level. It is my intention to always advocate with children in mind.
The Leandro Action Plan, released in late 2019, outlines the eight critical needs of our state’s schools, and I support the recommendations of this report. Specifically, there are two main funding areas that would most benefit our county. These include: Additional funding to increase the capacity of our county’s pre-k program, and a fair, livable wage for our educators and bus drivers, which would increase the hiring and retention of a diverse, qualified staff.

There is a large kindergarten readiness gap in some of the schools in our community, and this gap highlights a critical need for additional early childhood education classrooms. Closing this gap will help our children achieve success in their school careers. But, in order for our children to succeed, we also have to provide our educators and bus drivers with the tools they need to foster a learning-conducive environment. We need to elect state legislators that support our public schools and hold our current legislators accountable. Additionally, we could ask our city and county officials to expand the amount of funds that they provide, and form community partnerships with local businesses and non-profits that want to help improve our schools.
Having spoken to many of our educators, it is clear to me that some are experiencing low morale. Not only are they struggling to make a living, they are also dealing with a top-down management style in our county that is not always conducive to a positive work environment or to what is best for our county’s children. In some cases, this culture can be adversarial. We must work to resolve this tension and support our educators, especially now with the issues they are facing due to COVID-19. We can do better!

For promoting professional development, we can partner with state and local teaching universities to encourage our educators to take professional development courses, even offering incentives for those who want to further their teaching skills. The school system can continue to provide bias training to all educators, which will ultimately help with suspension rates.
Very unimportant
Somewhat unimportant
Neither important nor unimportant
Somewhat important
Very important
The first five years of a child’s life are fundamentally important to their development. Currently, there is a large kindergarten readiness gap in some of the schools in our county, and this highlights the need for early childhood education, especially for our children in poverty. Establishing a greater number of these pre-k classes will ensure that all our children enter kindergarten equally prepared to thrive - socially, emotionally and academically. Often times it is said that education is an equalizer in our society, so we must provide all of our students with the tools they need to reach their highest potential.
Teaching is a calling, and a lot of teachers love what they do. Even so, they still need to make a living and feel valued for their work. The state needs to provide our teachers with a fair, livable wage and include them in the conversation of best learning practices. This may not happen unless the makeup of North Carolina’s General Assembly is changed. The conversation of recruiting and retaining teachers in our state must begin with paying teachers fairly. Teachers are a big part of our children’s lives, and they deserve to be paid and valued for their contributions to our community.

Even though our educators’ wages are dictated by the state, there are things the county can do to incentivize the recruiting and retaining of diverse, qualified teachers. The county can offer incentives for those teachers who want to expand their professional development and invite them to offer input in major school board decisions. Furthermore, our school system needs to encourage the hiring of a diverse teaching staff, specifically by hiring more teachers of color. This can be accomplished by partnering with HBCU teaching universities in our state. The county can also expand our high school teaching scholarship program to encourage more of our young students to become teachers in our county.
Age (optional) 58
Contact Phone (910) 675-0059
Position/philosophy statement Leadership and experience- I am a longtime educator, a proven educational leader with over 30 years of educating students and I want to help NHCS!
I just retired this past August from a wonderful 34 year educational career that was started in New Jersey in 1985 and continued in New Hanover county, where I served the students of NHC as a teacher, coach, and athletic director for 17 ½ years at Trask Middle and Junior High, Laney High and Williston Middle schools. After receiving my second Master’s degree in 2002, I started my administrative career at South Brunswick Middle School the end of 2003. During my tenure at South, my school was recognized as a National school to Watch. After spending one year in a split position serving at the Early College High school and the Brunswick County Academy, I was recruited by Pender County to take over a school that was slated to go into sanctions due to low performance. I took over North Topsail Elementary School in 2008 and we were recognized by the state as a School of Distinction that year. Pender County recognized me as Principal of the Year for the 2013-14 school year. I finished my career on a strong note- even though we missed over a month of school due to hurricane Florence- we just missed being named an “A” school settling for the ranking of B. I am the father of three wonderful children all who went through NHC Schools. I am a former preacher at a local church and a strong conservative and Republican.
Student safety is the first responsibility of all educators. As a Principal, I went into each classroom at the beginning of each year and spoke with my students. I asked them what the number one responsibility that the Great State of North Carolina stated each teacher was to do. Responses usually ranged from teaching to testing to going to meetings. The correct answer is keeping them safe. It has been the first of three themes for my campaign from the beginning.
Reestablishing the trust that was lost from the recent situations at several of our local schools. That goes hand-in-hand with better protecting our students and helping and counseling those that have been hurt in these situations. The New Hanover County Commissioners have already stepped up to help with some of the cost. Addition funding needs to be found through grants and BOE funds.
The Teacher Working Conditions Survey comes out this year and will be a vital part of the data. Additionally, other ways to gather data- formal and informally such as Survey Monkey and school based surveys need to be used. Open Communication between the BOE and the local NCAE and other teacher advocacy groups is important.
Very unimportant
Somewhat unimportant
Neither important nor unimportant
Somewhat important
Very important
As a Principal of a Pre-K to 5th grade school, I saw first hand how vitally important our Pre-K program is for the students' well being and to help even the "playing field" for all students to be able to be successful in Kindergarten.
Our teachers are overworked in many instances and underpaid. We need to find new and better ways to seek the very best educators and to pay them a fair salary so they don't have to work two and three jobs to be able to provide for their families. They need the proper training , tied in with their school's School Improvement Plan to be the very best educator they can be, so they can provide a high quality education for our children.