Q&A with School Board Candidates – Part 2
Published 3:25 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Editor’s Note: For coverage of the primary election, The Stanly News & Press sent questions to each group of candidates. We limited their responses to 200 words per answer. Answers appear as is, with the exception of editing for grammatical/spelling errors or length. This allows potential voters to see the candidates through their own words and gives equal opportunity for the candidates to respond. We gave candidates two weeks to email their answers back.
Melvin B. Poole
Robin B. Whittaker
2. What has the school board accomplished since you’ve been in office and why do you think voters should re-elect you?
Graves: I have been a member of two boards.
As chairman of the Finance Committee, I made sure, for the first time in the 20 years I’ve lived in Stanly County, the public had a clear and accurate picture of the school system’s finances and financial needs. I led a comprehensive financial review, including a salary study, that clearly showed that, while there were many areas for savings, the school system was still significantly underfunded — and worked with the superintendent and board to address both.
I also worked with the board to strengthen our anti-bullying policies and requested a review and update of our disciplinary policies and procedures.
Most significantly, I was part of a board that worked closely with the superintendent to support the amazing SCS staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly to deal with the unprecedented challenges of full-scale remote learning brought on by COVID.
As part of this most recent board, I fought hard to get the masks off our kids and staff and collaborated with board members and Chairwoman Glenda Gibson to repair and improve the board’s relationship with the community.
I have been a strong advocate for our students, parents, teachers and employees of SCS.
Poole: I have not been on the School Board for nearly two years.
But noteworthy accomplishments by previous boards were passage of a bond that allowed for school construction projects including several new schools, passage of a referendum that was designated for major safety improvements at all schools. Measurable academic progress at most schools.
The board I was privileged to serve on most recently managed to stop the closure of schools, movement some boards had started, and managed to get one back open.
Whittaker: There were many accomplishments I was a part of during my previous 10-year tenure on the school board. I was a part of a board that worked tirelessly and had an instrumental part in the passing of a $17.3 million school bond in November 1996.
During my tenure we secured funds and accomplished renovations, additions and new constructions. These consisted of a math and science wing at West Stanly High School, media center at Albemarle High, construction of South Stanly Middle, North Stanly Middle and West Stanly Middle.
We were also able to provide additions or renovations at Endy, Locust, and Aquadale schools.
I led the initiative of removing mobile units from our campuses and placing our students back in brick-and-mortar buildings. The number of mobile units has increased and currently we have 28 mobile units on our campuses, although not all of them are being utilized at this time.
I supported the advancement of long-term internal candidates within our system, believing that you promote from within to those vested employees.
I served on the merged school board of Albemarle City and Stanly County school systems and worked to consolidate every aspect of those systems into one.
Wright: I’m not currently on the school board. However, I can tell you from what I have seen, they have not accomplished anything but angering parents.
I have seen School Board meetings where members talk to the parents like they are children themselves. That is not how you treat those you work for. As elected officials we work for Stanly County. We must respect the parents because they are who we work for.
This, in my opinion, is why parents in Stanly County do not trust our current school board to protect our kids from indoctrination from CRT and grooming.
The parents do not even feel they are even listened to. This needs to change. The school noard cannot get directions from Raleigh, they need to get parents input as well. It’s the parents that the board works for, not Raleigh.
Lisk: The Stanly County Republican Party appointed me to the school board in
October 2021. In my first meeting, I voted to make masks optional in the schools. I continued to vote mask-optional at each board meeting, along with a vote to end contact tracing and quarantine requirements in February.
I visited 14 of our 23 schools between November and March. I toured facilities, visited classrooms, rode buses and spoke at length with many administrators, teachers, bus drivers and staff. I plan to visit the remaining schools before the summer break.
Constructive visits provide “boots on the ground” information and employee involvement to help make the best decisions for our children’s future.
I led an effort to hold the first joint school board and county commissioner meeting in many years. The meeting secured financial support to apply for a $21 million state grant to renovate and expand four schools without the need to raise taxes. I will continue the effort to upgrade schools to meet the needs of our county, maximize existing resources and minimize the impact to taxpayers.
I will fight against critical race theory in our schools and provide thought leadership to make our schools the best in NC.