Q&A With School Board Candidates – Part 6

Published 10:45 am Monday, April 25, 2022

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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.

School Board


Anthony Graves
Melvin B. Poole
Robin B. Whittaker
John Wright

District 1
Dustin Lisk
Meghan Almond

6. What would you focus on if you got elected/re-elected?

Anthony Graves

Graves: Accountability. There must be accountability across the school system, from the superintendent, all the way to the classrooms. That means holding people accountable for their actions or inaction.

This is the only way to create and maintain trust with the people who elect the school board members to serve them, and in turn, those who are employed by the school system to educate and protect our children.

This means enforcing discipline. This means enforcing policy and procedures approved by the school board. This means rewarding those who fulfill their obligations to the school system and dealing swiftly and decisively with those who do not. Everyone on the school board and in the central office knows this is my highest priority.

With accountability in place, watch that a large number of the issues we are now dealing with will miraculously work themselves out. Accountability is and will remain a major focus of mine if I am fortunate enough to be re-elected.

In addition to accountability, I will also remain focused on the core issues of discipline, safety, communication, academic outcomes, community engagement, facilities maintenance and new construction and more. These are all important, but accountability is at the top.

Melvin Poole

Poole: Focus will be on helping students regain the academic momentum lost by Covid.

I still have not given up on seeing Ridgecrest School back open. A great injustice was done to that community by closing that school. Now much housing development is happening in sight of the school.

Some preliminary discussions were taking place but a change in the board and superintendent and Covid abruptly ended all that.

Robin Whittaker

Whittaker: Student growth is of most importance. We must recognize teachers and schools who foster the most growth in their students. The impact of Covid was great, and proficiency may be off, but growth should always occur.

I would focus on being more transparent. The public does not always appreciate or agree with decisions a board makes because the supporting documents involved in the decision-making process are not shared or can’t be shared. I would strive to be as transparent as possible and seek opinions and knowledge of those in the schools and the parents that entrust us each day with their children.

Implement an updated 5-, 10- and 20-year long-range Facility Plan. The average age of our buildings is 45 years old, with our oldest building being 106 years old. Growth is inevitable and it’s our responsibility to be proactive, not reactive. With 2,000 homesites being approved over the last 18 months in Stanly and with that many more coming in the future, having that long-range plan in place is imperative.

We must continue to foster the relationship with our commissioners and work jointly with them to provide for the needs of our system. Our future direction must be a joint effort.

John Wright

Wright: Making sure the parents, students and teachers are being heard. Their voice matters and I want to make sure they have someone in their corner listening.
I want to also work with our county commissioners to see what we can do, school board members and commissioners, to help improve our schools.

This also includes listening to the parents, teachers and students on what they want to see improved as well.

Mark Robinson once stated it takes patriots not politicians to run the government.

Dustin Lisk

Lisk: I will work diligently to make our schools the best in N.C. As a county, we need a prudent long-term plan that utilizes resources wisely, engages the public and parents, strengthens curriculum and positions students for success.

We need to recruit and retain the best teachers and administrators. We need to strengthen our culture to make everyone feel respected and appreciated for their work.

More specifically, I will continue my effort to renovate our schools, update our technology, expand our career and technical education programs and adjust compensation to become more competitive. Given the substantial needs of our county, state and federal grant programs provide an effective path to accomplish these goals and will minimize the impact to our taxpayers.

I will communicate and coordinate regularly with our county commissioners to advocate for appropriate funding of our schools that also uses county resources in a fiduciary manner.

Critical race theory continues to make its way into NC schools. I will stand strong against this curriculum to ensure all students get treated fairly and without discrimination of any kind. I will advocate for policies that prevent this material to enter our schools and get taught in our classrooms.

Meghan Almond

Almond: Once elected there are three main focuses.

1 – Free up. I will continue to stand against any future unconstitutional mandates.

2 – Catch up. Do away with agendas such as SEL and CRT. This not only divides the community but it takes away from valuable learning time. We need to minimize testing so our teachers can concentrate on teaching instead of preparing students to test on a weekly basis.

I would also like to see textbooks come back into the classroom. Teachers are currently writing their own curriculums. With textbooks we can remove an added burden.

3. Pay up. Our teachers, TAs, bus drivers and all essential staff are all in need of pay raises. Our board along with county commissioners need to come up with a plan to broaden the schools budget to accommodate this need. It’s time we pay them a salary that is competitive with surrounding counties.