That all Children deserve the best education possible.
Being a life long resident of Pender County, Alumnus of Topsail High school, and father to 3 that completed 13 years of school in Pender County I feel a unique insight of the strengths and needs of the Pender School District. Having been on the board for the past 8 years, i have experienced several challenges and accomplishments of the districts. Hurricanes, school construction bonds, superintendent search and hiring are things not common to everyday life. I have been an active member of the community and county well before serving on the Board of Education, PTA's, Booster Clubs, Parent advisory board, Recreational sports boards, Pender County parks board and Pender County parks foundation board. All these boards require working with children and their parents which allows direct feedback to the concerns and compliments of issues relating to the district.
The most important responsibility of a school board member is assisting in setting the course the district is to take, assist in setting policy to guide that course, working with other county and state leaders in making sure the needed resources are provide to achieve the goal of providing the best education possible, while being fiscally responsible with the tax payers money. One of the hardest thing about being a school board member is balancing different needs of your constituents, the needs of a constituent without school age children maybe different than that of a parent, needs of a parent maybe different than that of a teacher or staff member.
Salaries and benefits for all staff is currently a huge issue that affects the budget, health care cost, pension cost, and not having a budget approved by the Governor last year has Pender County to resort to pulling additional funds for our local funding. Thankfully the Pender County Commissioners have increase the local allotment which has been a life saver, but without a budget and funding increase from Raleigh next years budget may require some additional creativity to continue at the current levels. Pender County Schools district wide has add several hundred new students over the past 2 years while working with a 2 year old budget.
Prior to the current Covid Crisis this question would have been a lot easier to answer, Prior the the crisis the moral was a the highest level since my coming to the Board,, the retention rate had increased, the supplement increase along with new leadership, new ideas has improved the overall teacher satisfaction. Currently the teachers, along with every other staff member is working extremely hard, extremely long hours, in an extremely difficult atmosphere, so the satisfaction meter is hard to read right now. As for the PD, we had developed a calendar this year that would have been conducive to additional PD, Covid has also change that,
Neither important nor unimportant
Pre-Kindergarten is very important, with today's requirements a student is expected to accomplish task in Kindergarten that in the past wasn't expected until 1st or 2nd grade. Not have that jump start prior makes it very hard on some students to catchup. My desire is for the state to offer Pre-K to everyone, to ensure everyone has the same opportunity.
Thanks to the County Commissioners for funding 2 years back to back supplement increases our retention rate has increased, recruiting is still an issue due to the state wide teacher shortage.
Education needs to evolve in order to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse country. The pandemic shows the necessity for innovative leadership.
My thirty plus years of experience in public education, first as a mathematics and science teacher, then as media specialist, test coordinator, technology trainer, instructional technology consultant, and media supervisor testify to my broad base of knowledge and leadership abilities. I have a proven record in developing effective programs by implementing Best Practice Strategies. I am eager to use my creative management skills to promote strong relationships among board members, educational staff and parents. I maintain high work standards and believe that can I make a significant difference in the success of Pender County Schools.
An effective school board plays an important role in setting educational policies, managing financial affairs, making personnel decisions, and providing for adequate school facilities. All of these decisions must be guided by one question: What is in the best interest of the students we serve? These decisions can not and should not be made based on political whims or in a vacuum. They should always be made through factual data and through thoughtful consideration. This process must include opportunities for stakeholders to communicate with one another and to work together to ensure that all schools are successful.
Pender County has many funding needs. Among them are providing a livable wage for all staff, fixing and replacing roofs damaged by past hurricanes and mitigating mold and other environmental issues in schools. Increasing support staff such as K-3 teacher assistants, literacy coaches, after-school tutors, nurses, and social workers is of great importance. However, the most critical need facing our schools today is how to reopen and keep our children and staff safe during this COVID-19 pandemic. Reopening will require additional funding for masks, cleaning materials, and increased staffing to keep students physically distanced. Presently, our transportation system is over burdened with an increase in population. We will need to expand our number of buses and staffing to drive and maintain the equipment. Expanding rural broadband through programs such as Lifeline and purchasing hotspots and hardware for blended classrooms will be essential. Addressing all of these issues will be difficult because we will need to invest more in our schools over the coming months and years. It will take a combined effort from the Governor to our local commissioners and the Board of Education to work together to strengthen our schools. I will work diligently to build relationships and to make sure that our priority is always safe schools.
Having taught in a classroom and later as an administrator I understand the need for developing strong relationships with staff members. Currently, many teachers do not know who their board members are and have never had the opportunity to be heard. I will increase opportunities for teachers to be heard by visiting schools on a regular basis, by creating school-based committees to promote teacher satisfaction, create an online system where teachers can provide solutions to issues and to keep an open door policy to all staff.
An enormous amount of funding is spent on professional development. Often the sessions are spent sitting around tables, listening to someone speak about something that is not relevant to the individual classroom. Teachers and school-based staff need to be more involved in designing professional development plans. County leaders need to work with staff to accommodate their plans and to allocate annual stipends to assist with purchasing classroom supplies. When people have a stake in the plan they are more likely to take what they have learned back to the classroom.
Neither important nor unimportant
Education is an essential element in eradicating poverty. Studies of preschoolers often find greater improvement in learning at the end of the Pre-K year for economically disadvantaged children and dual language learners. The investment that we make in Pre-K today will provide opportunities to close the achievement gap, will increase graduation rates and ultimately will create productive citizens. Students who are given the advantage of attending a Pre-K program develop emotional, academic and social skills that they may otherwise lack when entering kindergarten.
The main issues with recruiting and retaining qualified teachers are pay and teacher satisfaction. To offset pay discrepancies at a local level we can offer annual stipends for educators to assist with purchasing classroom supplies, we can work to increase local supplements so they are competitive with surrounding counties, we can provide a daily dedicated planning time and duty-free lunch time for all teachers, we can ensure that teachers have time to teach and engage students in relevant instructional projects and we can provide educational staff with free daycare and after-school care. On a state level we need to advocate for restoring Advanced Degree Pay and Longevity pay, reduce heath plan premiums and out of pocket costs, implement Due Process Rights for Educators and eliminate pay for performance based on test scores.