Seven applicants have applied for the seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education left vacant when Michelle Brownstein resigned in late December.
▪ Allen Buansi is a research consultant for Democracy NC. As a 2005 graduate and later an assistant football coach at East Chapel Hill High, Buansi says he’s seen “the best best of the school system and the worst of the school system.”
He writes, “On the whole, I enjoyed a great deal of success in middle and high school, but there were so many of my fellow classmates and student-athletes who fell through the cracks. I was constantly reminded of students left behind every day as I walked through the halls and in my classes as oftentimes, the only African American student.”
Buansi says he wants to make sure all students are prepared for life after graduation.
▪ Joal Hall Broun is the director of lobbying compliance for the N.C. Department of the Secretary of State and the mother of two Chapel Hill High students. She’s served on the OWASA Board of Directors and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, and run unsuccessfully for a seat on the Orange County Board of Commissioners and the CHCCS school board.
In addition to closing achievement gaps and making a plan to fund school repairs, Broun says the district must focus on teacher retention: “the district should lead with the implementation of a culture of respect for all teachers and treat all teachers as professionals. I would work to create a culture that recognizes that teachers are valued professionals and the community should hold them in the highest esteem as we do other professionals.”
▪ Erika Lipkin is self-employed as a CPA with a daughter who attends Northside Elementary. She cites her experience as a board member and fundraiser for the Northside PTA, along with other area nonprofits: “As a treasurer, board member, and accountant for a variety of organizations, I have proven my ability to analyze financials and budgets by stretching what would be considered as small amounts of money to go far.”
She’s also concerned about maintaining the district’s reputation for high-performing schools: “Property taxes in Chapel Hill are among the highest in the state, and many state residents choose to live in the community due to the reputation of the schools. The reputation needs to be maintained in order to keep the schools doing well.”
▪ Ashton Powell is a teacher at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics in Durham and the parent of two Carrboro Elementary students.
He cites mental heath challenges as one of the top five priorities for the district to address: “Our students are stressed, depressed, distracted, and tired. Some students have been professionalized since kindergarten, building their resume since before they could write their name. Students on the other side of the achievement gap have been told that they are failures and have no future, sometimes as early as the third grade. The pressure on kids today, and how it relate(s) to their school status can be crippling to the mental health of students across every demographic.”
▪ Hector Rosario has a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University and currently teaches at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. He has established a free math enrichment program serving 200 students in Chapel Hill, and is working to develop math curriculum for adult prison inmates.
Among his priorities for the district, he cites the need for better preparation to deal with winter weather: “The board may propose purchasing equipment needed to have our schools ready after a winter storm. Closing school for three days due to a few inches of snow is simply unacceptable.”
▪ Theresa Watson has worked as a youth mentor and served on a variety of nonprofit and advisory boards. She’s previously run unsuccessfully for seats on the Carrboro Board of Aldermen and the CHCCS school board.
Watson says to close achievement gaps the district needs to: “Increase focus on tailored tutoring programs and increase numbers of parent volunteers as well as create a welcoming environment for all parent to work with individual students to reduce and eliminate any achievement gaps.”
▪ Mary Ann Wolf is the director of digital learning programs at N.C. State’s Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. She has three children in the CHCCS school system.
Wolf says it’s time for the district to embrace personalized learning for each student: “While some schools and teachers are taking advantage of digital learning and formative assessment to personalize learning and help each student learn, this is not necessarily pervasive across the district in my experience. Even though CHCCS has a very strong education system and reports high test scores, many new technologies and instructional strategies can be implemented to ensure that all students are growing and learning to meet their potential, including students who are struggling and those who need additional acceleration.”
On Feb 11, the school board will meet at 6:30 at the Lincoln Center on Merritt Mill Road to interview candidates, before voting to appoint a new member Feb 18.
On Feb 11, the school board will meet at 6:30 at the Lincoln Center on Merritt Mill Rd to interview candidates, before voting to appoint a new member Feb 18.