RAE holds school board forum Friday

First Posted: 1/15/2009

LUMBERTON — Parent involvement, teacher shortages and the No Child Left Behind legislation are among the issues school board candidates will be asked to address during a public forum on Friday.
Eight of the 10 candidates are expected to participate in the event, which is sponsored by the Robeson Association of Educators and will be held at 6 p.m. at the O.P. Owens Auditorium in Lumberton.
Monica Graham, association president, said it’s important that the public hear the candidates.
“I would like to extend an opportunity for all concerned citizens that would like to hear the beliefs of school board candidates to attend the forum,” Graham said. “The community needs to be here, not just the employees. If citizens are concerned about any school policies, those policies are made by the school board.
“It has to start at the top with the board,” Graham said. “And the public needs to step up to the plate if they want to see changes to any policies.”
The forum comes about a month before the May 6 primary.
District 7 incumbent Stephen Stone is being challenged by Steve Martin, a former board member who lost his seat to Stone in 2004. Martin will not be at the forum because of an out-of-town engagement, according to Graham.
Incumbent Jo Ann Lowery, one of five candidates seeking three open at-large seats, also has a conflict and will not be at the forum.
The other at-large candidates are board Chairman John Campbell and challengers Danny Cook, Glenna Hicks and Jerry Long. All have committed to attend.
Millicent Nealy, a veteran board member, is not seeking re-election.
Incumbents without any opposition are Loistine DeFreece in District 1; Randall Jones, District 5; and Robert Deese, District 4. Even though they are unopposed, they have been invited to the forum and are expected to attend.
The 11 questions the candidates will answer were mailed to the candidates.
The public will also be allowed to submit questions to be drawn from a hat. Moderator Brian Freeman will allow candidates three minutes to answer each question.
The forum is expected to last three hours, Graham said. Afterward, RAE members will vote to decide which candidates the organization will endorse. The association, which serves as an advocate for teachers and students, has about 1,200 members in Robeson County.
“Let’s all step up to the plate and choose the best qualified individuals to these elected positions,” Graham said.

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