Davie Board of Education GOP Candidates: David Carroll

Published 4:13 pm Monday, April 23, 2018

Why did you decide to seek public office?

Carroll: At this time of my life I feel I have the experience, skills, and more importantly the passion to be an effective advocate for the students, teachers and parents in the Davie County School System.

What is the No. 1 issue facing the Davie County School System and what is your plan to handle this issue?

Carroll: There are several important issues facing the Davie County School Board but school safety is presently number 1.

Providing a safe and secure learning environment is one of the most daunting challenges facing K-12 schools today. Education is not just an advantage to the parents but rather it is the life blood to the whole community. Maintaining a safe environment for our schools has never been a more important issue as it is today.

At present there are plans to provide additional structural changes to the schools to allow each school to be locked down after the morning admissions to classes. My plan is to support these facility changes but to focus on an additional major security concern. At present there not enough School Resource Officers (SRO) to be at each school. The reason for this is because there is not enough funding to allow a SRO at each school. While there are Grants that have been applied for, to allow additional Resource Officers, even with these, there will not be enough. This issue, as with much of what the School Board faces, has to do with the availability of funds. After the State and Federal Revenue sources release money to the County Commissioners, the Commissioners, who are also restrained by budget constraints, have to decide how much money can be released to the School Board to meet its budget requests. North Carolina counties are charged with building, equipping, and maintaining school facilities; G.S. 115C-408(b) stipulates that public school facilities requirements will be met by county governments. Under this General Statute, I hold that having an SRO in each school should be an inherent requirement to maintain school facilities. This issue needs to be resolved with the County Commissioners as well as our State legislatures. I plan to pursue this as well as look at the Lottery system and our State legislature for additional help.

Many including myself have wondered why the “Lottery” system does not provide some relief in areas such as this. The fact is that when the NC Education Lottery was established in 2005, counties received 40% of the lottery proceeds, which were dedicated to public school construction needs. Since 2012, the legislature has provided a “lump sum” appropriation of $100 million statewide, a percentage equal to roughly 17% of the proceeds (less than ½ of what would have been distributed under the original statute). 75% of the lottery funds allocated to counties between 2011 and 2015 were spent on debt service rather than new construction.

Therefore when lottery monies are released, the majority of the funds are used to pay for the debt service the County has on new construction.

Fortunately as far as school security, I believe by being creative and rotating each SRO to different schools until we can have one SRO per school and seeking retired officers to voluntarily give of their time to monitor the perimeter of different schools in a way that does not create a detectable pattern can provide additional security.

Should costs of extra security be paid by the school system or the county?

Carroll: I believe the cost of providing a safe and secure education environment is part of a County obligation as stated in General Statute 115C-408(b). The funds should come from the State and Federal Budgets to the County Commissioners and thus to the School Board to spend according to an agreed upon plan. But without careful analysis much money can be wasted.

Fortunately grants and emergency planning with other agencies are common practices among educational institutions to help them reduce costs and share resources. When we talk about funding safety and security, we have to be a little creative in this economy.

The Central Berkshire Regional School District, in Pittsfield Mass. which has seven member towns and six school buildings, recently conducted a district-wide security evaluation in conjunction with local and state police. Its itemized budget for security improvements is $72,000.

• New exterior security cameras (27 units): $40,500

• Cement bollards (23 posts) in front of front doors: $11,500

• New PA system: $9,362

• New portable radios (25 units): $5,000

• Replacing front doors to half glass units (for one school): $3,000

• Phone for computer lab (at one school): $400

• Contingency fund: $2,238

Source: Central Berkshire Regional School District

This is just an example of what an overview might be with the details behind each item available upon request. Part of my platform is that such overviews as well as details should be transparent to the community. There should be more transparency between the State and the County Commissioners and the School Board as to how monies are spent so that teachers and parents can easily understand and provide suggestions as to how they feel monies should be spent.

Fortunately new technologies in this field of school safety are rapidly expanding due to the demand. For example there are technologies that allow lock down in a school within 2 seconds from multiple touchpoints, including mobile and desktop software, as well as a wearable button.

Here in Davie County, teachers have walkie talkies to take with them when their class leaves the class room for recess or other reasons. I plan to make sure every teacher has access to these.

All options should be discussed, evaluated and enacted as funds are available.

Again the issue is cost. Fortunately I believe there are companies who are willing to step forward and help finance such endeavors. The School Board through the County Commissioners should be actively exploring such options.

One option I find it difficult to support is arming teachers. We have in our community enough retired law enforcement personnel who I believe would be glad to volunteer some time to monitor the perimeter of our schools. That, along with the present safety features being discussed along with one school resource officer per school are a good start.

Other Issues

Carroll: We have a good school board. I am looking forward to working with them to maximize the resources available to the teachers and the class room. I am also hoping to gain some success in evaluating how we as a County can influence our legislature to allow more flexibility to the County Commissioners and thus to the School Board as to how money is to be spent. Right now when money is released, it comes marked for specific uses. For example the largest source of money comes from the State. These monies are “ear marked” for specific uses. This is the State’s method of trying to insure that there are adequate monies for various needs. I plan to push for the release of monies without the State dictating how it should be spent. Davie County should make such decisions. An example of specific uses are the following categories: (1) instruction; (2) facilities; (3) salaries/benefits. While each school has some flexibility to move some money within a category, it doesn’t have the flexibility to move monies from one category to another.

However, as the issues of funding require additional discussion and resolution, I believe we have another important issue.

If we were in a for profit business we would measure our success on how much money we made. But we are not. We are in a nonprofit business. Our schools should be providing the environment to educating and graduating individuals who will be armed with the ability to be contributing members of society.

Of approximately 6,338 students in our K-12 programs, published state test scores show approximately 51% proficiency in Math and 52% in English. I find this as alarming and something that needs to be addressed by the School Board. All of us working together can and should improve this.

In addition to my remarks regarding the safety provisions needed, my platform is to also increase our support for our teachers so that they are able to get what they need to insure their students have the materials and instruction they need to be successful.

Teaching in a class where there are a mixture of students who want to pursue further education together with those who just want to do the minimum to graduate and who would do better in a class about plumbing, carpentry, HVAC or auto repair creates an unfair challenge to a teacher to provide each student with what they need. Combine all of that with putting students in a class who cannot speak English.

As a School Board member, I plan to try to establish a closer relationship with our teachers to draw out and act upon their suggestions of how to improve their teaching environment. Having a school system with 51% proficiency in Math and 52% in English is not and should not be acceptable. We need to let our teachers tell us what should be done to change this and to change accordingly.

I have tutored students, taught at the Junior College level and now enjoy my role as a Substitute Teacher in the Davie County School System. I have drawn from my experiences in consulting, training and teaching others how to achieve their goals. This has given me the experience I feel can allow me to be a collaborative team player on the Davie County School Board as we move forward and accomplish our Community’s goals in safely educating our children to be contributing members of our society.

My skills are those of a good listener, a good communicator and as someone who looks at both sides of an issue. I have good analytic skills allowing me to marshal facts and develop feasible solutions to problems. I am a team player and look forward to develop a consensus in coming up with solutions.

Of my experiences and the skills I have developed from these experiences, what is most important to me is the Passion I have when it comes to the students and wanting them to have the best, safest environment in which to develop into productive community members. I have lived in NC for approximately 50 years with about 18 of those as a proud resident of Davie County.

In summary I have the experience, skill and passion to be an effective school board member and I am honored by any help from and consideration by, the residents of Davie County.