We asked candidates for state and local office to tell us about their views on public education. Here are their answers.
Our Schools First sent a survey to every candidate for state legislature, Iredell County Commission, and Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education. OS1 does not endorse or recommend candidates in the 2018 Election–we simply wanted to provide the following information to help guide voters in their decision.
Republican, incumbent legislator
Qualifications and Experience
I am a retired textile executive with 40+ years of worldwide business experience and was a Director and Treasurer of a foundation educating nomadic children in northern Kenya for 12 years. I am also completing my second two year term in the House. Relative to education, I currently serve as Chair of Education Appropriations, Vice-Chair of Appropriations, Chair of Education Policy – Universities, Chair of the UNC Board of Governors Nominating Committee, Member of the My Future NC Commission establishing a statewide education plan and attainment goals and as a member of the UNC Funding Model Task Force. I also serve on Transportation, Banking, Economic Development and Rules Committees in the House.
I am an Iredell County native, attended Statesville City Schools and received a BSBA Degree from UNC – Chapel Hill in 1973. I spent the next 35 years pursuing my career in textiles in New York City and southern California. My wife and I returned to Mooresville in 2008 while continuing to work in our respective business fields. I retired in 2014 with a desire to give back to the community via public service. This led to a successful campaign for the NC House in 2014 and re-election in 2016. I am married to Adelaide Horton of Statesville and Troutman and look forward to our 40th anniversary in early 2019.
1. Do you believe that all children in Iredell County, regardless of where they live, are entitled to the same quality of education?
2. Do you think that all children in Iredell County are currently receiving the same quality of education?
I believe all schools, systems, teachers and principals in Iredell County strive mightily to provide the same quality of education to all children. However, it would be naïve to say this is achieved. This is a very complicated matter influenced by socio-economic conditions, teacher training, conditions of facilities, legislative understanding, parental involvement, state, county and federal funding, regulatory requirements and numerous other factors.
3. Do you think that the level of funding for public schools in North Carolina is adequate? If not, do you think it’s the County’s or the State’s responsibility to increase public education funding?
Just based on projected population growth, public school funding in NC will have to increase in real dollars. However, it probably will not increase as a percentage of the overall budget. In the State, total education appropriations consume 56-57% of the entire budget with public education receiving 38-39% of the total budget. In 2017-18, this equates to $13.1 Billion for total education with $9.0 Billion of this going to public education. These appropriations are simply not going to significantly increase percentage wise without reductions in other needed areas such as healthcare, justice and public safety or rainy day savings.
It is not a fair question to ask if it is the State’s or the County’s responsibility to increase public education funding because each primarily fund different areas. That is, counties traditionally fund capital for buildings and some compensation. The State primarily funds compensation, educational supplies, programs, etc. There is also a third component to funding that requires local districts to spend widely, drop ineffective or old practices and so forth. Ultimately, I believe we are all in this together and must do a better job of understanding each stakeholder’s goals, needs and limitations.
4. Do you support the proposed Iredell County ¼ cent sales tax increase on the November 6, 2018 ballot?
5. If you do support the proposed sales tax increase, do you believe that the local School Boards are best equipped to decide how to use additional sales tax revenue for our schools? If not, who is best equipped to make these decisions?
Generally, the more local you can make a decision, the better results you get. I have every confidence the Iredell and Mooresville School Boards are responsible stewards of their funding. However, they are required to advise the County and State how the funding is spent. There may be differences of opinion on specific expenditures, but I am confident there is the necessary transparency to know where the funding goes and logic behind the decisions.
6. Are you aware of the recent North Carolina School Report Card which graded all schools in the Iredell County?
Yes. Unfortunately, there is too much weighting given to test scores at the expense of growth. Both should be equally weighted in my opinion and that of many of my legislative colleagues.