I am a conservative who believes that quality education is not dependent on wasteful spending or excessive taxation.
I went to Moore County Schools for my entire childhood, graduating from Pinecrest High School.I then earned a BA degree with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After earning a Juris Doctor degree and practicing law for 40 years, I earned a teaching certificate from UNC Charlotte. As a result, I taught school in both high schools and middle schools, several in Moore County. As an attorney, I am very experienced in both drafting and litigating both construction and other contracts. As a teacher, I have had to meet the challenges of teaching both gifted and more challenged students. My background makes me uniquely qualified to solve the problems facing our local public schools.
Certainly the most important responsibility of a member of our board is to administrate our taxpayer funds with both honesty and transparency. All taxpayers, both school parents and taxpayers without students at home, must be assured that children are receiving the best education possible at a reasonable cost. As a board of education, we must closely supervise our superintendent and his administrative staff to assure taxpayers that their investment in education results in outcomes that aid our economy and maintains the reputation of Moore County as a fine place to own a home and invest in the local economy.
State funding must assure that teachers are paid fairly and their benefits are administered with integrity. We must urge both political parties to compromise on teacher pay to encourage the retention of the best teachers in our district.Moreover, state funding must cover all of the unfounded mandates that the legislature imposes on local taxpayers. By funding its mandates, the state will free local funds for local responsibilities and local priorities like building new schools and maintaining existing school buildings. We must work closely with our state senator and representatives to make the state pay for mandated education requirements. We must also lobby the legislature to avoid micro-managing local education, especially when that burdens local taxpayers with additional state mandates.
Teacher morale is not doing well. Teachers are overwhelmed by mandates from both the state and the county central curriculum supervisors. They are further burdened by the need for individualized education taking into account not only ability but also socio-economic conditions of students. To this is added a counterproductive social justice agenda favored by the current board and its administrators. Teachers need to be given more autonomy to innovate and need to be freed from the current bureaucratic burden described above.
Neither important nor unimportant
Children should remain at home as long as possible prior to kindergarten. The youngest of children will do best when nurtured by their parent or guardian prior to being separated for many hours each day. That being said, there is a need to care for children whose parents must work and cannot care for children full time. Our first priority as a nation must be to make it possible for one parent to remain at home to nurture the youngest of our children.However, given appropriate state funding, we should accommodate pre- kindergarten children within our system. Still, it is not the mission of the state to supplant the parent with respect to the nurture of a young child. And, absent substantial state funding, we cannot accommodate pre-school as a right or primary function of K-12 education, especially if it takes away resources from our core k-12 mission.
Teacher pay is important, but job satisfaction is also very important. Teacher pay is primarily a state matter (although a local supplement is important). But teacher retention is controlled primarily by the sense that the work of good teachers will be valued and respected, Additionally, disciplinary support from the administration gives teachers a sense that they can teach well without undue interruption. Note that teachers value the freedom to do their job well and will be satisfied with their job if they feel both appreciated and valued for their service. This will help retention and can be accomplished with little or no added taxpayer burden.
A strong public school system in Moore County is fundamental for the success of all students, our community, and our nation.
I am a manager and consultant with almost 30 years of experience developing and guiding programs for non-profit and government agencies in the human service field. I have served in various volunteer capacities in Moore County including United Way, Jr. League, and Learning Tree Preschool. In 2015 I was appointed to the District II seat and was elected to a full four-year term in 2016. I served as Vice Chair of the board in 2017 and Chair for two terms in 2018 and 2019. My service on the Board of Education proves that I am an experienced leader devoted to making Moore County the best in the state for public education. I have worked tirelessly to lead the board through difficult discussions around impacts of diminished state funding, student reassignment planning, and managing facility needs. As a collaborator, I know that serving and supporting our schools cannot be done in a vacuum. I have experience with and am committed to partnering with students, parents, community members, businesses, staff, and elected officials on important initiatives that have resulted in increased volunteers, funding, and resources in our schools. Finally, I am a parent of two middle schoolers. I have seen first-hand how decisions made in Raleigh impact staffing, class sizes, textbooks, and other resources for teachers and students. However, I know these challenges can be overcome through sound decision making by the School Board and support from our county leaders and state lawmakers.
The most important responsibility of a school board member is to keep all students at the heart of decision making and policy development. In a rural and growing community like Moore County this is even more important due to the sheer size of our county and growth in concentrated communities. Caring for the needs of all students, all abilities, and all walks of life takes careful deliberation, study, and respectful dialogue. Additionally, school board members must make important financial and policy decisions to support teachers and help all students succeed in school and in life. Providing inspiring, caring, and engaging teachers and appropriate facilities and resources help students achieve both in and out of the classroom. Finally, as the school board is fully reliant on outside funding from state, county and federal sources, school board members must be good stewards of public funding. A transparent budgeting process and open discussions about investments in public school funding are critical. Sharing and celebrating student outcomes and successes from these investments show the community the impact of good financial stewardship.
State support for public schools has eroded dramatically since 2008. Adjusted for inflation and increased costs, state funding has diminished while our school system has grown by 500 students. Diminished support has meant the loss of over 100 state-funded teacher and teacher assistant positions, increased class sizes in grades 4-12, and decreased textbook funding. At the same time, Moore County Schools’ share of state lottery funds for capital projects was cut in half. The needs in Moore County Schools are many and the three most critical are (1) adding teachers in grades 4-12 to lower class sizes; (2) adding student support professionals in our schools (nurses, psychologists, counselors, school resource officers) to meet the needs of our students; and (3) additional capital funding to maintain and improve our aging school infrastructure. The school board has made some headway on cutting our budget over the years by looking for operational savings from eliminating special programs, cutting teachers and central services staff, energy conservation efforts, and transportation efficiencies. Continuing to find efficiencies will not yield additional significant savings. I intend to continue working with our county commissioners on funding for staffing and capital to replace state funding and advocating on behalf of all students with our legislature to restore funding.
Teacher satisfaction has been central to the school board’s work over the last five years. The state run Teacher Working Conditions Survey placed Moore County Schools last in our region (12 out of 12) in 2014 with a “composite score” four points below the state average. These improved significantly and in 2020 I am proud to share that Moore County Schools placed second in the region with a composite score four points ahead of state average. Growing over 9 points over these six years is a direct outcome of strategic work and emphasis on supporting teachers as leaders in and out of the classroom, focusing on professional development, and creating a positive working culture in our schools. Promoting professional development in the schools starts with this continued emphasis on culture, and includes providing time for professional learning communities, supporting beginning teachers, encouraging teacher leadership, and promoting professional learning opportunities that are both teacher and instructor led. With decreased funding available for professional development and beginning teacher mentoring, using internal resources coupled with strategic use of external professional development is a key to current and future success.
Neither important nor unimportant
Study after study has shown that a language-rich, developmentally appropriate, play-based, hands on, high quality pre-Kindergarten program has important benefits for children. High quality pre-Kindergarten programs support foundational social-emotional skills and provide the basics of language, math, science, and motor skills to help children be prepared for kindergarten. Children who arrive with foundational skills are better prepared to have success in school and in turn complete more years of schooling. Research has shown that students who have access to pre-Kindergarten have fewer behavior problems, better attendance, and are more likely to be reading at grade level. These are all important indicators of future success in school and beyond.
Recruiting and retaining teachers is of critical importance to all school systems. High quality and effective teachers engage and inspire our students daily, can differentiate learning based on individual student needs, and are critical to developing a positive school learning culture for both students and staff. Recruiting and retaining high quality teachers is based on factors that influence supply and demand. First, the supply of teachers and support of teacher preparation programs plays a large role in creating a high quality pool of teachers. Teacher preparation programs at colleges and universities in North Carolina have seen diminished interest and enrollment due to continued devaluing of teachers on the state level. In addition to cuts to the teaching fellows program, once hired, teachers see slow pay raises, diminished benefits, loss of beginning teacher support, and loss of benefits for advanced learning or degrees. None of these help with future teachers thinking of teaching as a long term career. Second, the ability to entice qualified and diverse teachers to Moore County is also based on our ability to compete with salary supplements, meet their demands for affordable housing and child care, and an environment that supports young professionals. Once here, teacher supports, training, and ability to engage with administration and board members to support policy and curriculum decisions is key to their commitment to MCS.