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.
Qualifications and Experience
Former Board Member, Iredell County Planning Board
Former Board Member, Iredell Statesville Schools Facilities Task Force
Trustee, Rocky Mount United Methodist Church
Past Chairman and Board Member, Iredell County Crosby Scholars
Former Treasurer, Iredell County Republican Party
Former 9th Congressional Representative for NC Republican Party
Former President, Treasurer & Board Member, LMS and LES PTO
Founding member of Our Schools First
Current State Senator
Please provide a short biography of yourself.
I am a native North Carolinian. Born in Davidson County, educated at UNC Charlotte and started Sawyer Insurance and Financial Services in Mooresville, NC in 2002. I graduated from college with a degree in Special Education, however I do not currently teach. I chose not to a pursue my career as a teacher because of low pay and tough environment for special education which is why I am an advocate for public education today. I began this path that I am on as a volunteer in school. Starting as a PTO member, then moving to Iredell Facilities Task Force which lead me to be a founding member of Our Schools First.
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?
Public school leadership teams use every tool in their box to provide quality education to all students. The one factor public schools can’t control is the makeup of their student body. Socioeconomic factors play a large role in educational output. A school’s geography and attendance boundary lines are most often the indicator of it’s measured success. One school may have a lower score because its student body is drawn from economically depressed areas but that doesn’t mean the quality of education is any less.
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?
I am very interested to hear how Rowan Salisbury school district restart initiative will work with budgeting. At a recent educational conference, I heard Superintendent Moody speak about her budgeting process. As part of the restart program, she and her leadership were given full autonomy in their budgeting process. They used a bottom up approach to their funding. She found that when the money restrictions from Raleigh were removed from school funding, that she had the ability to shift funding to areas that were needed. She was able to provide more services to her students than ever before. Circling back to the question at hand, I know that schools have great needs that aren’t being met. I do think if LEA’s were given full control of the money they could manage spending better and find ways to use what money they are already given.
4. Do you support the proposed Iredell County ¼ cent sales tax increase on the November 6, 2018 ballot?
I support our schools, and always will. I want our schools to have resource officers, additional nurses and mental health professionals. I worry that the funding mechanism of this sales tax increase will not provide sustainable increased funding for schools. Take for example our state’s education lottery proceeds. We were promised that money will be used in excess of current funding and will not supplant dollars from the NCGA. As with most governmental promises, things change. At the last minute, the language for supplanting funding was removed and schools received less funding from the NCGA. I fear this sales tax will be a similar situation. We have a promise from our current county commissioners that they will spend the money partly for education. However, it just takes one vote for that to change and we have no promise that the funding will be earmarked for education with future commissioners.
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?
The best decisions in government are made by those that are closest to the end users. We elect school board representatives and we trust them to spend the budget. I fully trust our LEA’s to make the best decisions for our students.
6. Are you aware of the recent North Carolina School Report Card which graded all schools in the Iredell County?
Yes, I am aware of report cards for our schools. I do not hold a high regard for those scores, because I believe the grading mechanism is fundamentally flawed.