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Chatham County Board of Education District 1

The Chatham County Board of Education is the local governing body of the County Public School System. Its members are elected in nonpartisan races by districts and serve staggered 4-year terms.The 5-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

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    Ryan Armstrong

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    Melissa Hlavac

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    Timothy Winters

Biographical Information

What do you think is the most important responsibility of a school board member and how will your experience help you perform this responsibility?

What concerns do you have,if any,about the County's Public Schools' ability to attract and retain the best teachers? Please explain your answer.

Are there school-related programs/activities that you think should receive more funding? If so, what are they and where should the funding come from?

Can you highlight some changes that have been made in Chatham County's schools that have translated into better student outcomes?

Pre-Kindergarten is: [Importance Scale] Please explain your choice

You can explain your choice for Pre-Kindergarten here:

Age (optional) 43
Contact Phone (614) 584-5024
email address
Position/philosophy statement To provide every student, and teacher with the resources they need to be successful within the classroom.
The most important responsibility of a school board is having the ability to make a decisions and come to meetings prepared. I have seen in to many occasions that our school board members are not prepeared to make the decisions that are asked of them.
I am very concerned! I feel that in order to attract the best teachers we need to change our model on how we go after these "best teachers". I have looked at this topic from several different lens, and change needs to come from the top. Chatham County is a one of the largest counties in the state, and I feel that the administration hinders us from attracting great talent. Considering we have the University of North Carolina in our backyard. We should be in contact with the University on a monthly basis asking how we can help, rather then the University asking us to support.
I would like to see more funding for the CTE's and sports. I see Chatham County Schools becoming more of a transient district, rather than the bedroom community that they were. With the development of Chatham Park, and some possible industrial and architecture developments coming in the future, it's important to build our academic programs, sports programs, and our performing arts programs.

When asked where funding should come from is an open ended question. When looking at the current budget, I believe there is room to move around differnt pots of money in order fund new programs.

This is why I am running. I haven't seen any changes that can be translated into better student outcomes. I feel that our current board is complacent, and struggles with making hard decisons. We can no longer go along with that mentality, or we will be left behind.
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Pre-Kindergarten is key in the development of our future leaders. This topic is very important to me, as a father I seen how Pre-K helped with the social and developmental skills of my children. This is one area that I will ensure that I push to keep if I am elected.
Contact Phone (919) 542-3626
Position/philosophy statement Excellence in Education. Equity Focused. Educator Centered. Leandro v. NC must be upheld providing every child with a sound, basic education.
The most important responsibility of a school board member is to fully represent community stakeholders and provide a voice for those who might not have the opportunity to be heard. Equally important is to set direction, create and ratify policy, and guide administration on critical issues.

Chatham County is a large, diverse community comprised of people representing a spectrum of cultures, backgrounds and socioeconomic levels. Like many, I’m a first-generation American who did not speak English until the age of six, only Spanish. A foundation in public schools was the springboard that shifted my family from one socioeconomic level to another as I was the first woman in my family to graduate from college, subsequently earning my MBA.

Today, I serve as Associate Dean of MBA Programs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School where I lead administration and operations, as well as the strategy and innovation of the organization. Concurrently, I have the privilege of serving as an elected member of the Board of Education for Chatham County Schools in which both of my children attend.

Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill, I worked on the strategy, business and editorial sides of media companies including The New York Times and Reader’s Digest.

The culmination of my experiences — background, ethnicity, higher education career, business acumen, active CCS parent, board of ed tenure — contribute collectively to the distinct perspective I offer.
The recruitment and retention of diverse quality teachers is an ongoing challenge facing NC Public Schools. Because of its compounded negative effects on students, teachers, communities and public education, the teacher shortage is a surging crisis demanding pressing policy and support.

Research illustrates that expanding the diversity in qualified educators significantly improves student learning outcomes. In order to secure teachers who can provide quality education, with equitable access to effective instruction, and specialized programs to meet the needs of all populations, we must address the bifurcated structure — State and County — in tandem, refining pay, policies and legislative funding. This past year, State budget conflicts left teachers cold, without pay raises, signaling their perceived value.

Chatham County has supported this issue with the Board of Ed consistently voting for educator raises. However, staffing is challenged by teachers leaving at high rates, while teacher pipelines contract. The County has chipped away at attrition rates with 12% in 2018-19 compared to 13% the previous two years, yet this is higher than the state average of 7.5% in 2018-19. Simply put, this remains unacceptably tall and we must continue to reduce this attrition. Retirement and full benefits are the leading factor at the State level. In the County, many have resigned to pursue a career with strong benefits, consistent salary growth, and at times, deeper respect levels.
In addition to teacher pay, programs that should receive further funding: schools safety, broadband/internet access, and innovative instruction.

School safety is an obligatory measure to ensure student growth. Schools must be free of harassment, violence, bullying and as recently experienced, infectious diseases and must create an environment where all students feel protected and supported. While CCS has made strides in this area including a safety resolution unanimously voted by the Board of Ed, we must continue a steadfast approach. Legislative funding and sound policy should cascade from the State bolstered by local board flexibility and county financial support to meet the county's needs.

As recently experienced, global health issues can force hairpin turns in education in a matter of weeks. Digital learning increasingly plays a vital role in education, augmenting classroom learning and teaching methods. This translates into students learning at home with reliable internet access. We must push the State for additional broadband/internet funding and partner with County Commissioners to expand access as those without internet are adversely affected.

CCS must continuously challenge itself to think creatively in curricular instruction to prepare students for this changing world. State and County funds must be directed to create and foster innovative programs (ex. restorative/implicit bias) and community partnerships (Chatham Ed Foundation/Chatham Reads).
Highlights include, but are not limited to: - Created School of Science and Engineering early college where students graduate with both a high school degree and an associate’s degree in college - Established Chatham Promise partnership with Central Carolina Community College enabling all Chatham County graduates up to two years of free in-state tuition - Launched Equity Excellence for Everyone (E3) team promoting culturally responsive teaching to meet the needs of the diverse student population - Developed a Kindergarten Readiness Camp with Oak/GSK Foundations in partnership with Chatham Ed Foundation - Increased internet bandwidth tenfold boosting digital teaching/learning. Secured federal discounts and State funding to deliver at no charge an estimated $2.4 million fiber installation - Strengthened personalized blended digital instruction with NCSBA grant to better meets student needs - Established free internet access via WiFi hotspots for high school students providing ample amount of data necessary to meet student digital demands - Selected as AVID National Demonstration School, a rare honor for a rural school. The college readiness program supports underachieving students with high potential to attend college - Recognized via Magna Award for Dual Language by NCSBA for student success and a well-researched approach for the Spanish program promoting biliteracy, bilingualism, and biculturalism - A significant decrease in non-required reportable offenses to law enforcement
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Early education investment can yield strong results not only in the early years with cognitive functioning, language acquisition and social development, but also longer-term gains with school achievement and social adjustment. It can be an effective mechanism in tightening the student achievement gap before it widens.

Multiple studies demonstrate that well designed universal pre-k can help children of broad cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds achieve kindergarten readiness placing them at par with their peers. Unfortunately, not all children are afforded opportunities to begin their learning journeys in preschool, where students are able to acclimate emotionally and socially to school. For some students, this is their first formal educational setting.

In the long-term, studies also illustrate a reduced need for special education, social support programs, remedial education, as well as fewer discipline offenses. In Chatham County, the launch of Kindergarten Readiness Camp with a $300k Oak Foundation & GlaxoSmithKline Foundation grants in partnership with Chatham Education Foundation (CEF) supports up to 200 rising kindergarteners, preparing them for their school journey as well as helping level the playing field among student peers.
A school board member has several important responsibilities. In this challenging time of COVID-19, the first priority of every board member must be a safe educational experience for every Student, Teacher, and Staff member in the 2020-2021 school year. Given the uncertainty that follows this virus, a school board member must clearly communicate processes, plans, and decisions with Parents, Teachers, and Administrators. Finally, a school board member must also ensure that every student in the district has the opportunity to receive a rigorous, high quality, education that prepares them to meet the challenges of the future.
The North Carolina State Legislature underpays our educators. To overcome this, counties pay supplements so that their educators may come closer to earning what they deserve. In Chatham County we pay some of the highest supplements vs. other counties in the state of North Carolina. However, most of our neighboring counties pay a similar or better supplement than we do. Chatham County is competing directly with Orange, Durham, Wake, Lee and Johnston counties to hire and retain great teachers. We must remain competitive with our neighbor counties if we are to attract and retain great teachers in our school district.
I will push our Chatham County Commissioners to utilize the incremental revenue from the 2019 "Article 46" tax (~$1.6M in 2017) to reduce student / teacher ratios and increase teacher supplements. As our county grows, so too will this "Article 46" tax revenue. We need to commit these funds to improving our schools.
Chatham schools have been slowly moving in the right direction. However, it feels like we could be moving faster. Every year we delay strategic changes or investments in our schools is another year that our Chatham kids will miss out on a better education. We cannot afford to continue to under invest in our children's future - they deserve better.
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Every child that attends Pre-Kindergarten benefits from it - I've seen the benefits with my own two children. I see Pre-Kindergarten as a must for our most vulnerable kids. Pre-Kindergarten can provide educators valuable extra time with these kids. I support NC Pre-K.